By Dirk Sonniksen | February 28, 2014
Director: Jessica Oreck
Writer: Jessica Oreck
The Aatsinki family make their living herding reindeer in the far north of Finland. Brothers Aarne and Lasse are our leads in the film and they are no slouches. Their day is spent in near-constant motion with the flow of the herd, the backdrop a stunning forested expanse of white. But with nature’s beauty comes the whirring of helicopter blades and the growl of snowmobile engines. Technology has created efficiencies and controversy as the family balances old traditions with new, faster methods of herding.
Aatsinki: The Story of Arctic Cowboys follows the Aatsinki family for one year, providing a window into the inner workings of the family business. It’s a lifestyle that is, on one hand perfectly in tune with nature, but on the other, straying from that harmony with the encroachment of mechanization. Is the family remaining true enough to their old ways, or is reindeer herding in the upper reaches of Finland on its way to becoming another automated corporate enterprise?
Aatsinki: The Story of Arctic Cowboys contains no narration with only the occasional conversations of Aarne, Lasse and family, the drone of a motor, or the stomping of hooves to break the wintery silence. The audience is provided only images to come to their own conclusion. The absence of narration makes for a slow ride at times, but also helps to intensify the cinematography and does indeed force the viewer to think. Without assistance, the film can become frustrating as society has grown accustomed to being force-fed the beginning, the middle, and the end. The only relief is to get lost in the vast arctic landscape.