is a short film about 14 year-old girl who lives in the northernmost
corner of Finnish Lapland. But Henna and her family are not Finns,
they belong to the Sámi people who travelled to Finland from Russia
hundreds of years ago and speak their own language, which is called
Skolt. The Sámi have a form of folk song which
they call Leu’dd.
It is a very
special form of song as it contains the stories and history of the
Sámi people. Henna's grandparents sing Leu’dd, in fact every one
of their generation did. But Henna's parents didn't: the Skolt language
was banned for many years and singing Leu’dd went out of fashion.
film had interesting subject matter, but somehow the point was
lost along the way
is a tourist commodity. Coachloads of tourists from Norway, the
rest of Europe and America travel to Lapland to eat reindeer soup
inside a reindeer skin tent, served by Sámi people dressed in their
traditional costume who sing Leu’dd.
talks of the tourists quite fondly. She says that it's nice to keep
in touch with the rest of the world, even though she thinks that
the tourists are terribly old-fashioned because they walk around
in the snow with only two sticks to help them, whereas the technologically
advanced Sámi travel by snow-mobile! Servicing the tourists is not
such a bad way to earn a crust after all.
the documentary is all about her, so why do we not hear her
is a very unusual adolescent in that she is learning to sing Leu’dd
in the traditional manner, and is a great attraction with the tourists.
In every other respect she is a normal teenager: we see her at school,
dancing at a disco, riding a bicycle and driving her snow-mobile.
However throughout the film the only time we hear her voice is when
she sings. The film is narrated by her grandparents, and by the
end I was itching to know what Henna thought about it all (in particular
the corpulent American tourists).
She also only
sings one song. We see her learning this, then singing it in the
reindeer skin tent and finally we hear it with a slick studio produced,
"world music" backing. Does this mean that she only knows one song?
Or was this song chosen to make the film musically coherent?
The other background
music was dark and moody, suggesting menace although there was no
menace apparent in the content or the plot. It felt as if this film
had interesting subject matter but somehow the point was lost along
the way. Or maybe it was me who missed the point. And why wasn't
the girl allowed to speak?