Iceland is terrible and beautiful.
A wooden trunk is uncovered with seven photographs in it from a hundred and fifty years ago in Iceland. The trunk belonged to a Danish priest who died there. Among the images are snow covered mountain ridges, a waterfall, glacier, and a portrait of a girl on a horse. Godland imagines the circumstances of how the photographs were taken.
A young Danish priest, Lucas, is assigned to a remote Icelandic village. He is told to adapt to the people and place, but because he is arrogant, he does neither. Against the advice of his guide and despite freezing rain and snow, Lucas insists upon going into the mountains and crossing a treacherous river. By the time they make it to his assigned village, Lucas is miserable, detested, isolated, and barely alive. Lucas is destined to become a part of Iceland, but not in the way he desires.
The sights and sounds of Godland are exquisite and resplendent. Listen to the women and birds singing, the ocean swells, the roar of a waterfall, a fierce river current, and volcano rumbling. Peer beneath the surface of the river, look across ice fields and canyons, see raindrops beginning to fall on smooth and sable stone, find your way through the thick fog, and gaze up close into a woman's eyes.
One of Lucas' greatest mistakes is seeing himself apart from nature, animals, and the local people. In showing the cycles of the seasons, and of life and death, Godland gently makes us aware of this crime. It is just one of the many wonders and complexities of this compelling, visually stunning, and thought-provoking film.
Godland premiered in Cannes and I saw it at the Toronto International Film Festival.
Keywords: photographycultural conflictyoung priest
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It's the 19th century and Iceland is a Danish colony. Young Danish priest Lucas, played by Elliott Crosset Hove, embarks on a voyage to build a church in remote Iceland, taking an arduous journey on horseback across the harsh landscape. Fragile, snobbish Lucas engages in a battle of wills with Ragnar, played by Ingvar Sigurðsson, his gruff, experienced Icelandic guide. How this priest will fare living among a people connected to the forces of nature, rather than the will of God, is his true test. Filmed across many years, director Hlynur Pálmason showcases the landscape of Iceland and how it ravishes life on the nation island, requiring all who live there to commune with nature in a spiritual act.
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A priest becomes a part of Iceland, but not in the way he desires
Iceland is terrible and beautiful.
Saw this at TIFF and was blown away. The cinematography and scenery are beautiful, and really drew you in to the setting. The inclusion of short experimental imagery was a brilliant touch that helped the viewer focus on the environment/nature going on around the characters and almost made the ecosystem a character in its own right.
Plot wise, this did not follow the arc I was expecting, and only exceeded my expectations. Other creators might have softened the ending, or toned down some of the harsher events, but I felt that it perfectly suited the tone of the story and mirrored what I imagine what life must have actually been like in that time and place.
In addition, the casting was spot on and the acting superb. (Ida Mekkin Hlynsdottir steals each scene she's in, and the dog is pretty much the most adorable creature ever.)
Stunning film worth watching
This movie is a feast for your eyes. The colors, sounds and scenery are lusciously incredible and pull you into this terribly, beautiful world that is Iceland. The story moves in a continuous slow beat that makes you feel every moment of the journey. The story unravels slowly but keeps your interest throughout. Some parts were shocking, a few funny in a dark way and some even puzzling. The attention to detail is striking, in every scene the contrast and saturation of color is near perfect. There isn't anything I disliked about this movie. I thought it was a true piece of art. I recommend seeing this movie and being patient throughout.