Sami Blood

 (107)7.31 h 47 min201716+
1930s Sweden. 14-year-old Sami girl Elle Marja and her sister are torn from their indigenous reindeer-herding family and placed in a government-run boarding school. There Elle dreams of education, of a future, only to find herself classed as racially inferior. When she attempts to escape one world of prejudice and another of old traditions, she learns the true cost of freedom.
Amanda Kernell
Lene Cecilia SparrokMia Erika SparrokMaj-Doris Rimpi
DramaYoung Adult Audience
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Supporting actors
Julius FleishchanderlHanna AlströmOlle SarriAnders BergMalin Crépin
Henrick ZeinLars G. Lindström
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Drug usefoul languagesexual contentviolence
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4.3 out of 5 stars

107 global ratings

  1. 74% of reviews have 5 stars
  2. 9% of reviews have 4 stars
  3. 4% of reviews have 3 stars
  4. 3% of reviews have 2 stars
  5. 10% of reviews have 1 stars

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Top reviews from the United States

FroggieReviewed in the United States on March 16, 2018
5.0 out of 5 starsBe open to this story
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The main character is a courageous young woman who steps out of where she was placed in life, seeking the "civilized" world with its many unknowns. She learns to adapt along the way, and eventually finds herself between two worlds and cultures, realizing valuable losses along the way. It was sad to see the overt lack of empathy displayed by the teacher when female students were being examined and measured by the male researcher (anthropologist?). The adults explained nothing of why they were asking the young girls to do what they asked of them and also lacked empathy for the young women's obvious sense of embarrassment of having to disrobe and be photographed in front of strangers. Excellent story, very rich film with moving scenes, revealing the insensitivity and lack of compassion that exists when people from different worlds make assumptions or hold stereotypes of each other, and thus, losing out on understanding each other as human beings.
35 people found this helpful
J. GreenReviewed in the United States on April 27, 2018
5.0 out of 5 starsGripping tale of one woman's struggle for acceptance.
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This movie tells the tale of an indigenous girl who tries to shed her heritage and become one of the people who look down upon her own kind. It seems she succeeds, but at great cost. In the end, there is regret, not for leaving her culture behind and embracing the culture of those who persecute the Sami, but instead for breaking family ties. At the beginning, you see this nasty old woman who doesn't even want to acknowledge the death of her sister and wonder just what makes her such a bitch. Then it transports you to the past and you learn about all the things that have wounded her and turned her into the hard hearted old woman she has become. The treatment of the Sami by the other Swedes reminds me of the way we immigrants from Europe treated our own indigenous people. I felt a sense of shame when those boys called her names and notched her ear. The boarding school was reminiscent of boarding schools Native American youth were forced to attend to "make them white" where they weren't allowed to even speak their own language. I wonder if the Sami now live on reservations. Wouldn't surprise me. You do have to be in the mood to watch this. Compared to most of what comes out of Hollywood, it is slow and deliberate. If you can pay attention and let the scenes sink in, it is a rewarding experience. I thought it well acted and the cinematography was excellent. Lene Cecilia Sparrok has an incredible career ahead of her. I look forward to seeing her again. I admit I am a fan of Nordic cinema, and this little gem just whetted my appetite for more. Great movie!
20 people found this helpful
shoppityshopReviewed in the United States on December 1, 2018
4.0 out of 5 starsA complex portrait
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This film is about the institutionalized discrimination that the Sami, an indigenous reindeer herding people from Lapland, faced from the Swedish government and people.

Two Sami sisters are sent off to boarding school in order to assimilate to Swedish culture. While they face the indignities of being “swedified”, they are also taught that they are racially inferior and that they will never have the same opportunities that other Swedish people do. This contradiction of being forced to give up their Sami identity and yet still forever being considered Sami, is the tension than drives much of the film.

What makes the main character Elle Marja so interesting is not just the fact that she is smart and headstrong but her ambivalence and confusion about her heritage. She rebells against her own culture as well as the demeaning Swedish attitudes she faces. Refusing to stay in her box, she is the perpetual outsider trying to push her way in. Sadly Elle Marja also begins to internalize the racism she encounters. This is not a feel-good Disney film about the noble savage who proves that she indeed is to be respected or the My-Fair-Lady-upstart who manages to charm her way into society. This is a painful and complex portrayal of what cultural dominance and oppression can do to an individual, even a strong one.

While the material is rich and layered there do seem to be occasional gaps in the storytelling itself. The camera work can be a little overactive at times especially when circling Elle Marja’s intent face played by the very expressive Lene Cecilia Sparrok. Some of the secondary characters would have benefitted from a little more development as well. Overall an interesting film that is well worth watching.

Sadly the use of education to erase indigenous culture is not unusual and was attempted with both the Native Americans and the Aborigines in Australia. Another movie that documents this practice is the Australian film “Rabbit-Proof Fence” from 2002.
15 people found this helpful
LorenaReviewed in the United States on March 7, 2018
5.0 out of 5 starsMust see
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I don't usually write reviews but this movie is so powerful and the actors are all amazing! A lesson in geography, history and humanity. Lene Cecilia Sparrok is truly a wonderfully gifted young lady.
25 people found this helpful
RedBobReviewed in the United States on March 19, 2018
5.0 out of 5 starsThe story is captivating and not easily forgotten. It is not necessary to understand Swedish ...
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Sami Blood is a very powerful account of a period of Swedish history that many in Sweden would wish to remain forgotten. The indigenous Sami culture is treated in a very sympathetic way. The film represents a black mark in the historical record of the Swedish People. The story is captivating and not easily forgotten. It is not necessary to understand Swedish to feel the emotional impact of the events portrayed.
19 people found this helpful
Maple SugarReviewed in the United States on April 13, 2021
1.0 out of 5 starsKao
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A young girl raised in Lapland wants to move to Sweden to attend school. Instead, her mother sends her to a government run school where she is beaten, brutalized and photographed naked all in the name of science. The elite Swedes believe the Laplanders or Sami's are less then human. Think of the antebellum slave period in the US or the Australian government's systemic brutalization of their native Aborigines. She runs away to a Swedish boarding school but can't pay the tuition so she returns to the Arctic Circle to ask permission to sell her reindeer herd for tuition money. Her mother refuses so she murders the entire reindeer herd with a blunt knife that she carries on her.Her mother finds her lying in the reindeer blood. Then, fast forward 60 years. She's an old woman at a funeral. The last scene shows her climbing into a wooden coffin. The end.

I have no idea what the hell this movie was about. The young girl was awful. I didn't like her and had no empathy or sympathy for her especially after she mutilated the entire reindeer herd. I won't be going to Sweden or Lapland ever.
One person found this helpful
Buddy1492Reviewed in the United States on April 13, 2020
5.0 out of 5 starsVery well done
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The movie takes a hard look at how Laplanderrs were treated in Sweden in the 1930's. All the acting was good. The actress playing Elle was just about perfect, showing her as vulnerable but at the same time independent and tough. Her goal is to get an education and she does whatever it takes. I liked the scene at the birthday party where the movie didn't back off and take a more sentimental direction. But after all, we knew that had to happen because we had already been shown the ending in the first scene. The movie starts slowly and I almost turned it off, but so glad I didn't.
3 people found this helpful
DetectorReviewed in the United States on July 30, 2020
5.0 out of 5 starsA brilliant Coming of Age film of one young woman's path from tribal nomad to modern Swede
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Not an easy watch, these are an indigenous people, Sami reindeer herders, marginalized, and objectified by the dominant Swedish society. Breaking free of family and tribe is wrenching and guilt-ridden; breaking through innumerable barriers into Swedish society is daunting, a lonely and long trial full of humiliations and disappointments. Powerful film, and an eye-opening treatment on the circumstances of the last indigenous people on the European continent to stubbornly cling to an ancient nomadic lifestyle, while under Swedish administration.
2 people found this helpful
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