ja, vi elsker
NRK commissioned this new version of the Norwegian national anthem, Ja vi elsker (Yes, we love this country) from Ole Hamre, the man behind Folkofonen. Go on, watch it, its sweet, with so few words in it that you really don’t need to understand Norwegian to get the gist. In fact, I think the only words other than the title “som vi stiger fram”, a slight twist on the anthem’s second line, “som det stiger fram” (as it [the country] as it rises forth). That’s all most of us actually remember, so it’s fitting, really.
The video was made using Folkofonen, which gathers videos of people singing long tones into a video camera and plays them like an organ of people’s voices and faces. You can play a simple version of Folkofonen yourself – here’s a screenshot.
But this video does more than that. It starts off in a pretty traditional YouTube aesthetics way, starting with one face and adding more singing faces to create a chord. After a while, the white backgrounded faces are joined by others, including a children’s choir, some elderly men in suits and ties, a woman pruning a rose bush in her garden and more. I love the bit where technology is given a voice too – although the choice of heavy industry as representing “the nation” is rather dated.
There’s national romanticism too, with the classic mountains and fjords, although by the time this comes around it seems a little ironical. There’s a brief brief section where the glory of Norway is modified a little by images of beggars and sick people, but fortunately for our moods, we’re able to look away and focus again on the mostly white crowds of individual (mostly though not entirely white) Norwegians singing the anthem on their separate screens. It ends with a young girl winking at the camera, encapsulating the mix of authentic love and emotion with irony that runs through the video.
I love this, despite the many ways in which I could/would criticise it. It would be extremely teachable for thinking about interpretation, metaphors, representations, semiotics and about the remediation of digital genres.