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.

A screenshot of folkofonen

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.


4 thoughts on “ja, vi elsker

  1. Folkofonen – Ja vi elsker « Undrelyd

    […] Share this:Like this:LikeBe the first to like this post. Leave a Comment by Undre on December […]

  2. frøken nettopp

    Video: NRK commissioned this new version of the #Norwegian national #anthem, Ja vi elsker via @addthis

  3. Kristoffer Jul-Larsen

    I too love this video, but I don’t really understand why the representation of industry is dated. It’s still there isn’t it? In addition to a plethora of other businesses, not least the oil drilling that comes after the sections showing metal works in the video.

    According to Magnus Marsdals Frp-koden, there are more people employed in Norwegian stone industry than in the wole of Norwegian media. Those statistics are getting older by the minute, of course, but a professor of digital culture should be careful to cling too close to the idea of the non-existense of material industries in western countries.

  4. Jill

    You’re right, industry certainly exists and I shouldn’t thing digital culture is everything!

    I was reacting to the very stereotypical romanticizing of industry, which really follows the romanticized images of mountains and fjords. It’s so routine that it comes across as almost (or perhaps completely) ironic.

    I am not an economist, but a quick look at SSB’s figures for how much each industry contributes to the Gross National Product (Bruttonasjonalprodukt) I see that in 2010, “Bergverksdrift” (the stone industry, I imagine?) earned Norway 4 121 million kroner, culture and entertainment 44 158 million kroner, education 104 201 kroner and information and communication (which includes media) 82 821 million kroner. So it seems doubtful that Magnus Marsdals figures are correct, unless there’s a huge contingent of stone workers outside of “Bergverksdrift”, which is of course possible – I’m not an expert.

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