What’s This New Movie ‘SISU’ About + Why Should Minnesotans Watch It?
There's a movie that's opening this weekend called "Sisu." It's an action/war movie set in World War II, where a Finnish man who has lost everything goes on a rampage killing Nazis. Why is the movie called Sisu? What does that word mean? Growing up in Northern Minnesota, this word is near and dear to my heart and my heritage.
According to the Finns, there is no English word equivalent to Sisu. You could try with words like, guts, drive, determination, spirit, and others, but it doesn't do it justice. Sisu is the thing that keeps you going in the darkest of times. It's part of the Finnish culture and what has made them some hearty people.
Many of my ancestors came from Finland in the late 1800s to Northern Minnesota. The climate is similar to that of Finland, and work on the mines of the Iron Range and the promise of the American dream enticed many to come to the region. That also includes other Northern states like Wisconsin, Michigan, and the Dakotas. Iron mining in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan was also a destination. In fact, the UP's Yoopers are made up of 35% of people with Finnish roots.
Duluth, Minnesota was once considered the Helsinki of America because there were so many Finnish immigrants arriving. From there they spread across the region and started their lives, bringing their own traditions and determination to the unforgiving climate of the Upper Midwest.
Sisu is a word I learned when I was very little from my father's side of the family. I'm the first generation that doesn't have a 100% Finnish bloodline. Do you know how to spot a Finnish name? Look for an excessive amount of vowels. For example, some Finnish last names are Lahti, Leiviska, Aho, Torminen, Korhonen, Jarvinen, and I could go on.
I remember asking my dad what it meant, and he said it had to do with what you're made of and what keeps you going. I really think for you to understand Sisu, you've got to live life and see what you're made of. When you get knocked down, do you get back up? When things seem hopeless, what makes you keep one foot in front of another? That's Sisu.
So, when I first heard a movie coming out that was going to be titled "Sisu," I wasn't sure what to expect. I already like what I see from the trailer. Here's a man that has lost everything, finds gold, and then kills the Nazis that try to steal it. I think we can all get behind that.
It's getting fantastic reviews, and I can't wait to see it. This movie may be a foreign film, but it resonates close to home for many of us with Finnish ancestry.
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