Pathfinder (1987 film)
|Directed by||Nils Gaup|
|Produced by||John M. Jacobsen|
|Written by||Nils Gaup|
Sara Marit Gaup
|Music by||Nils-Aslak Valkeapää
|Distributed by||Carolco Pictures (United States)|
|Running time||86 minutes|
It was the first full-length film in Sami, and it was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film in 1988. Nils-Aslak Valkeapää played one of the parts as well as writing the music to the film, together with Kjetil Bjerkestrand and Marius Müller.
In Finnmark around AD 1000, a young Sami named Aigin comes home from hunting to find his family massacred by the Chudes. He flees to a place where he can find friends and relatives, and is chased by the Chudes. He is wounded but makes his way to a community of other Samis who live some distance away. Upon reaching the others, Aigin's wound is treated by the shaman of the group. He gets into a debate with them about how to face the Chude attackers: some argue for meeting them in battle, while others maintain they should all run away toward the coast. Aigin and some of the other hunters remain to meet the Chudes, while the remainder of the group flee. The hunters, except Aigin, who hides, are quickly killed by the numerically superior Chudes, but one of the men, the old shaman-leader is kept alive and tortured. To prevent the torture Aigin reveals himself and offers to act as a Pathfinder for the Chudes to the coastal settlement where a large number of Samis live.
But Aigin has a plan in mind. He cannot overpower the Chudes, but he can trick them. Leading the Chudes across mountainous terrain, Aigin lures the Chudes into a steep area where they are all forced to tie themselves together with ropes for security. Aigin unties himself and flees, leading the Chudes over a cliff where several of them fall to their deaths when the leaders cut the ropes to save themselves. An avalanche takes most of the Chudes, and the few surviving men give up the pursuit, ensuring Aigin has effectively saved his people. He becomes the new Pathfinder (shaman-leader) of the Sami group by virtue of his wisdom and bravery.
Most of the scenes were shot in Finnmarksvidda, in temperatures as low as –47°C. This presented unique difficulties with the cast, crew, and camera equipment in the harsh cold. Most of the cast were Sami, and were used to the cold, but several of the stuntmen refused to work under such conditions.