Mikkel Gaup, Ingvald Guttorm, Nils Utsi

Directed by Nils Gaup
Rolling Stone: star rating
5 0
Community: star rating
5 0 0
April 7, 1989

Like The Navigator, a striking film from New Zealand that was released last year, Pathfinder is a wholly extraordinary adventure that might take some effort to find. Despite an Oscar nomination for Best Foreign Film, this film from Norway is hardly a natural for the local multiplex. The actors are all unknowns, and the movie -- shot in Lapland (the northern parts of Norway, Sweden and Finland) -- is the first feature ever made in the Lapp language. It's easy to imagine the Hollywood studio bosses tripping over themselves to turn this one down.

Any misgivings should vanish with the opening scene. Nils Gaup, a former actor making his debut as a director, shows a startling command of the medium. The less-impressive screenplay, also by Gaup, is based on a thousand-year-old Lapp legend that Gaup recalls hearing from his grandfather. The sixteen-year-old Aigin, played by newcomer Mikkel Gaup (no direct relation to Nils), returns home from a hunting trip to see his parents and baby sister slaughtered by Tchude raiders, masked bandits from northern Russia and Finland who pillaged Lapp settlements. The director's decision not to subtitle the Tchude language (as indecipherable to the Lapps as it is to us) adds to the terror.

Escaping the Tchudes, Aigin takes refuge in a small Lapp camp and tries to persuade the inhabitants to take a stand against the enemy. Only three agree to help, and they are soon killed. When the Tchudes start torturing Raste (Nils Utsi), the camp's noaidi, or holy man, Aigin offers to lead the bandits to the main Lapp settlement in exchange for Raste's life. Aigin must now betray his people to the Tchudes or come up with a new plan.

The plot resembles a High Noon on ice, and Raste's rant on brotherhood ("We are all parts of the whole") sounds like he upchucked the more indigestible parts of The Grapes of Wrath. But director Gaup trusts the mythic power of the tale, and he charges the visuals -- from a fullscale bear hunt to a black boot in the snow -- with a vivid, poetic immediacy. Pathfinder exerts a hypnotic hold.

Movie Review Main Next


Community Guidelines »
loading comments

loading comments...


Sort by:
    Read More

    Movie Reviews

    More Reviews »
    Around the Web
    Powered By ZergNet
    Daily Newsletter

    Get the latest RS news in your inbox.

    Sign up to receive the Rolling Stone newsletter and special offers from RS and its
    marketing partners.


    We may use your e-mail address to send you the newsletter and offers that may interest you, on behalf of Rolling Stone and its partners. For more information please read our Privacy Policy.

    Song Stories

    “Whoomp! (There It Is)”

    Tag Team | 1993

    Cecil Glenn — a.k.a., "D.C." — was a cook at Magic City, a nude dance club in Atlanta, when he first heard women shout "Whoomp — there it is!" Inspired by the party chant, he and partner Steve "Roll'n" Gibson wrote a song around it. Undaunted by label rejections, they borrowed $2,500 from Glenn's parents and pressed 800 singles, which quickly sold out in the Atlanta area. A record deal came soon after. Glenn said the song was meant for positive partying. "If you're going to say 'Whoomp there it is,' and you're doing something negative, we'd rather it not have come out of your mouth."

    More Song Stories entries »