Frozen II Is at the Theaters, and Soon Dubbed in Sámi

Today is the premier for the animated sequel Frozen II here in the U.S. Unlike most Di$ney princess movies*, I will be seeing this one during its theatrical release for a particular reason.

In the story, Anna and Elsa et al. travel to the north and meet a people resembling the Sámi. For their research and inspiration, the Walt Disney Animation Studios not only talked with Sámi people but actually signed an agreement with the Sámi to do it in a respectful, collaborative way.

The Sámi are the only indigenous people within the European Union area. They currently live in the northern reaches of Norway, Sweden, and Finland, and the Kola Peninsula in northwestern Russia.

Disney even invited some members of the Sámi Parliaments to U.S. to see the movie at the world premier, meet some of the makers, and tour the animation studio.

Yle Siv Eli Vuolab Samediggi Frozen II World Premiere

The most exciting part for my linguist brain is that the studio will record and release a version dubbed in Northern Sámi, the largest of the Sámi languages. The voice actors are drawn mainly from Sweden and Norway, among them the acclaimed Sámi musician Mari Boine, but also one Finn. (Yay!)

Yle Frozen II Screencap Northern Herders

While it’s true they aren’t very numerous these days (partly thanks to racial, linguistic, and cultural discrimination), the Sámi do exist and do have a living culture. (Just check out the music scene for one incredibly vibrant aspect—yoik comes almost in all styles now!) I grew up two hours south of the Arctic Circle, and the Sámi were my classmates, neighbors, and teachers. For me it’s delightful that Disney took the time to research, listen, and respectfully pay homage to people I grew up with.

Undoubtedly I will also enjoy scenery that reminds me of trips to Lapland even if the first reports say the northern mountains look too young and rugged to be based on the fells on the Finnish side of the border. 🙂

Yle Frozen II Screencap Valley View

*) The only other exception is Moana, which was also produced in cooperation with indigenous peoples.

Images: Per-Olof Nutti, Aili Keskitalo, Åsa Larsson Blind, and Tiina Sanila-Aikio with their daughters at the world premier of Frozen II by Siv Eli Vuolab / Sámediggi via Yle. Three members of the northern herder tribe from Frozen II via Yle. View overlooking a northern valley from Frozen II via Yle.

In Live and Active Cultures we talk about cultures and cultural differences.

Fantasy Religions: The Divine Presence

151012DionysusDown the crimson marble steps of the temple of Zurukh, god of blood, came a bald priest in the red robes of the Order.

Heathens!” he cried, pointing with his holy whip at Our Heroes. “Heretics! Blasphemers! You shall bow down and worship Zurukh or burn in the fires of the Scarlet Inquisition!”

Silence!” answered Inessa, stepping forward from the party and raising aloft her crosier. “Repent of your wickedness! The power of Adnea, Lady of the Pure Light, compels you!”

Religions are tricky to write. If you’ve delved into much fantasy, you’ve probably seen a lot of faiths that seem oddly familiar. In fact, the religions of some fantasy worlds can be charitably described as “Catholicism with the serial numbers filed off.” Even given a profusion of gods with their own temples and cults and spheres of influence, fantasy religions tend to work more like the modern monotheisms than like the actual ancient “pagan” traditions they are outwardly imitating.

How can you make your fantasy religion feel more authentically ancient? There’s no rules to it, but in this and some future History for Writers posts, I’ll share some of what we know about historical beliefs from around the world that may help you imagine a religious worldview that feels less modern.

Continue reading