Disney Film To Be Dubbed Into Sami

By Ahrvid Engholm: Disney’s coming Frozen 2 will be dubbed into Sami language! It’s an animated fantasy film for children, and such movies are often dubbed in Sweden, because most children can’t read subtitles. (Animation Magazine: “‘Frozen 2’ Will Get Sámi Language Version”.) Frozen 2 is said ro be based on Sami culture. (I haven’t seen it or the first Frozen film.)

The traditionally reindeer herding Sami people are, sort of, the Indians of Scandinavia. They are some 65 000-100 000 — the span due to how to define belonging to the group — shared between Sweden, Norway and Finland (plus a couple of thousand in Russia) in the North. (Wikipedia entry: Sámi people.)

Today most are integrated into the regular society but about 6,500 of the Sami are still into reindeer herding. Smoked reindeer meat is considered a delicacy and can usually be found in supermarkets all over Sweden, and some is also exported. (Sorry, all of you who are thinking of Santa’s reindeers… We eat them.)

One snag with dubbing this film is that there are several Sami dialects (a Finno-Ugric branch on the language tree, not related to Indo-European languages) not always intelligible bewteen speakers, but North Sami is the biggest dialect so I supposed that’s what they’ll use. Some Sami languages are near extinction, now spoken by just 20 people… See Sámi languages. It’s the first time I think a major film is dubbed into Sami! (But there have been regular feature films shot in Sami before.)

As I googled around I stumbled upon the debate around the Frozen films – KnowYourMeme –  “Disney’s Frozen Whitewashing Controversy”:

 A “debate /that/ has come to include accusations against Disney of “whitewashing” the Sámi, the indigenous people of Scandinavia. The controversy began on Tumblr, and is largely driven by social justice bloggers who accuse the movie of racism, and fans of the film who are outraged by these accusations.”

I haven’t dug deeper into this, but anyone interested can probably find more info.

A trailer for Frozen 2:

More resources:

10 thoughts on “Disney Film To Be Dubbed Into Sami

  1. The “Disney’s Frozen Whitewashing Controversy” was mainly generated by people who had some assumptions on what native people had to look like, and were backing that up with 19th century sepia-tone photos and oil paintings. Rather than, say, photos and video of existing Sámi people.

    Mostly well meaning, but tinged with ignorance and assumption. Then some of the people promoting the idea went full blown crazy, and claimed that the existing Sámi people aren’t the real Sámi people…

  2. Interesting. I always think of the Ice Princess stories as being Russian or Polish. It will be fun to see what Disney does to tell us about the Sami. Lets hope that some Sami people are advising on this.

  3. It is originally inspires from HC Andersens The Snow Queen. It is so far from Andersen’s story that it can be ignored, but the Snow Queen lived in Lapland in the original tale.

  4. Kristoff is thought to be canonically Sami due to his reindeer, and clothing. So Anna’s love interest is a disparaged minority. Also, the leaks of Frozen 2 seem to show more Sami characters as Elsa is sent on a quest for something something reindeer.

    And yeah, since Kristoff is blond, the “WHITEWASH!” cry went up.

    Of course, it wasn’t as loud as the cry that went up when Jelani Aladdin, a black man, was cast as Kristoff on Broadway.

  5. Here’s a picture of a sami school class in Sweden, for those who are interested in how people can look.

    But honestly, it is a fairy tale. And even in the story, the owners of the reindeer weren’t sami. They were robbers. But the reindeer sure enough was from Lapland.

  6. There are about four Sami kids who weren’t told they were supposed to glare at the camera.

  7. I went to a class on runes at ConVocation years ago, and the presenter, Jane Sibley, said that the Sami were glommed onto by the Scandinavian New Age folks,like the Native American cultures were glommed onto in the U.S.

  8. @Hampus Eckerman: interesting picture. From what I read of statistics (as opposed to US stereotypes of the population), that’s somewhere around as many blonds/blondes as one would see in a random class in southern Sweden; is that guess correct? I suspect the whitewashing claims come from the belief that Sámi are kin to North American people-of-the-cold*; IIUC, genetic markers point to these peoples coming over Beringia from eastern Asia like the rest of the first inhabitants of the continent, where Wikipedia describes the Sámi as originating in the Urals.
    * (for which I find no good collective — “Eskimo” is deprecated, but “Inuit” is uninclusive, cf an argument against saying “Burma” rather than “Myanmar”)

  9. Ahrelia:

    That was new to me. The New Age people I know are into Wicca or some types of Kelticism and I have never heard of anyone adding Sami culture to the mix.

    Clip Hitchcock:

    The whole thing is fraught with politics, but there have been studies showing both that Sami and ethnical swedes have the same DNA (see link in swedish) on the fathers side.

    Studies on DNA show origin from both Siberia and from western Europe. The European DNA seems to dominate.

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