close up of the characters from Frozen II

© Disney, 2019

After a debate on social media about how the Sámi culture was represented in the 2013 box office hit movie “Frozen,” Disney took the time to address the audience’s concerns and looked to the experts. The animators collaborated with a group of Sámi people to get their input on the film.

The Sámi parliaments of Norway, Sweden and Finland, along with the Saami Council (a non-governmental organization of the Sámi people) reached out to Disney to collaborate on the sequel. Both parties signed a contract to work together to “ensure that the content of Frozen 2 is culturally sensitive, appropriate and respectful of the Sámi and their culture.”

The Sámi experts acted as cultural consultants for the animation team. The group worked very closely with the filmmakers and approve of the final outcome. Anne Lajla Utsi, a member of the group said, “It has been a very, very good collaboration, I must say. We are really proud of that, and happy about the film, as it is now.”

The Sámi influences can be seen throughout the sequel. The fictional community featured in “Frozen 2,” Northuldra, is inspired by the Sámi. Two main characters, Anna and Elsa, head north to meet the Northuldra, a group that lives closely with reindeer, much like the Sámi in real life. The clothing worn by the Northuldra characters was inspired by the traditional Sámi clothing known as gákti.

Additionally, a South Sámi musician and composer, Frode Fjellheim, who wrote the intro song for the original “Frozen,” also has music featured in the sequel. This time, the Northuldra characters sing the song. Fjellheim’s music uses joik, an ancient chanting type of singing from the Sámi.

In exchange for the input provided by the Sámi for the film, Disney agreed to produce a dubbed version of the movie in the North Sámi language—the most commonly spoken form of the Sámi language. The Sámi dubbed version will be released alongside the Norwegian version later this month in Norway. “Frozen 2” is currently playing in theaters across the U.S. and Canada.