Reel Norden : Nordic Film & History

Kautokeino Rebellion -- Setting, Details, & Design

The setting, details, and design of Kautokeino Rebellion transport the viewer to 1852, Norway. Filming the movie in northern Norway maximized the authenticity of the film.  This emphasis on accuracy is carried throughout the film with the sets, costuming, and details surrounding the action of the film.

Setting and Details

Nils Gaup, the director of the film, was born in Kautokeino nearly one-hundred years after the rebellion originally happened.  The uprising still causes discussions today regarding the native group behind the rebellion, the Sami.  Gaup himself is a descendant of the Sami.(1) The director created a film about a historical event in his hometown led by his ancestors, it is reasonable to assume he wanted it to be accurate and respectful.

One detail of production to maintaining accuracy was the filming location.  The Internet Movie Database lists near Kautokeino as the primary location for filming.(2)  Filming in the region the revolt actually took place helps the viewer feel more like they are actually there and watching it unfold.  The authenticity of the setting transports someone to Northern Norway and back in time with the firelit goahte, or dwelling of the Sami,(3) and the dark merchant store of the antagonist.

Gaup focused in on the reindeer, an important aspect of the Sami’s lifestyle, to help maintain a historic lens on the film.  Reindeer herding was the primary livelihood for many Sami communities and like other nomadic herding tribes, the reindeer dictated their living patterns.(4)  After the initial disagreements over alcohol, the source of the tension shifted to the reindeer and remained as an indirect plot driver for the rest of the film.  Gaup could have chosen a relationship that continued to center on the alcohol, or an internal purpose of a character to drive the action in the second half, but he chose the migration of the reindeer.  This maintains a historical depiction of the film, rather than a romantic, religious, or hero-figure centric depiction.

Costume Designs

Each Sami tribe had their own original folk costume based on where in the country they came from, however they all had commonalities. Since the clothing had to function in a severe climate, they were made out of reindeer skin to keep them warm. 

The Sami folkedrakt (folk dress) was decorated with different symbols that they valued. The look of their folkedrakt depended on who they were and where they came from.  The Sami hats were very different from men to woman, also the shell ties were different regarding the situation, for example for everyday use or party. In the past the kirtles (tunics) were often made out of leather, but today they are often made out of homemade woven or industry-produced fabric. Wool is common, though silk and cotton have also been used to make the kirtles. Tunics and hats are decorated with lace, ribbon, pewter thread embroidery and leather. The folkedrakt is also decorated with braiding, mainly at the bottom of the sleeves. The purpose of decorations on the clothing is to show the origins of the different Sami groups. The folkedrakt also indicates traits such as your marital status. It can also be decorated to represent a particular religious view. (5) 

The Sami folkedrakt from northern Scandinavia is mostly in the color blue.  In the past they were made out of homespun, nowadays they are sewn in many different colors. This is shown in Kautokeino Rebellion where the Sami folkedrakt were not so colorful and were made out of homespun. The new style of dressing includes changes in the way the shoulder pieces and kirtle edges are decorated.  They are now quite similar all over Samiland, and are typically constructed of red- and some green- and yellow- colored cloth. (6) 

Sami people mainly lived in lavos, (lavvu)  They were usually constructed of leather, dirt or wood. In the Sami language they were called goathe. There are two different types of these structures, the permanent one was covered with turf, the other one was mobile and because of that less heavy than the permanent one. The lightweight goathe consisted of poles and a tent fabric, very much like a lavvu. In the middle of the goathe they had a campfire which was their main source to keep it warm inside However, today the Sami live in modern houses, but occasionally they use the goathe as a dwelling place in the summer.(7)

(1) “Nils Gaup,” Norwegian Film Group, access date February 23, 2017,
(2) “The Kautokeino Rebellion: Filming locations,” Internet Movie Database, access date 23 Feb, 2017,
(3) Sunna Kuoljok, The Saami: People of the sun and Wind, (Jokkmokk: Atjtte, 1993), 34.
(4) Sari Pietikäinen, "On the Fringe: News Representations of the Sami," Social Identities 7, no. 4 (2001) : 637. Academic Search Premier, EBSCOhost (accessed February 23, 2017).
(5) "Samiske folkedrakter" Riddoduottarmuseat, accessed February 23, 2017.  
(6) Martin Marstrander, "Samekoftene," accessed February 24, 2017.
(7) Sunna Kuoljok, The Saami: people of the sun and wind (Jokkmokk: Ájtte, 1993), 34.

Written and edited by Marah Moy, Ulrik Sagbakken, Morgan Kelly and Katie Tuel.

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