Tag: Iceland


January 21st, 2016 — 1:59am

 Screen Shot 2016-01-20 at 5.57.46 PM**

RAMS (Icelandic with English subtitles)-sp

This was the Icelandic film entry for best picture in the Oscar foreign film category. It did not make the final cut for nomination. It is written and directed by Grimur Hakornason and stars two experienced Icelandic actors Sigurdur Sigurjonsson and Theodor Juliosson who play two brothers. The film is set in the mountains of rural Iceland in a small sheep farming community. This is definitely not a familiar setting for American film goers. What is familiar is that we are presented with a story of a sibling conflict. There are two brothers with adjacent sheep farms who have not spoken to each other in more than 40 years. An outbreak of sheep disease (scrapies) is dramatically discovered which requires the slaughtering of everyone’s sheep in this small community, which would take away their livelihood for at least the next two years. It would also mean the wiping out of the stock of animals that has been in these two brother’s family for many generations.

There are lots of moments of drama and tension in this movie. Certainly, the filmmaker, who we met at our screening, knew this setting quite well. He mastered the depiction of man and sheep in the beautiful countryside and the deadly snowstorms that can occur. He injected a subtle sense of humor into the various serious dilemmas, which the characters are facing.

Of course, the main theme of this story is the antagonism between these two brothers. As mental health professionals, we know that this universal theme can be one of the most painful conflicts of the human condition and often plays out with many heartbreaking, heartwarming and fascinating variations. By taking on this issue, the filmmaker had the opportunity to provide not only new insights into this universal story, but also to enrich it by highlighting the cultural layers from the Icelandic setting.

We are sorry to say, in our opinion this movie did not live up to the potential possibilities we envisioned for it. We know nothing about the brother’s family, childhood or any insight whatsoever into the nature of their conflicts that led to 40 years of not talking to each other despite living within sight of each other’s houses. There are no other family members in this story. The two older main characters are seemingly single with no spouses or children. In fact, there are no significant friends in the movie although we see the townspeople occasionally interacting with them. The film while trying to show us a poignant ending, still gave us no insight into the characters who are doing the emoting. The direction, acting, photography, editing were of high quality. We understand that this movie was well received in Iceland. We can only imagine how well it would have gone if there had been more of a story. (2015)

Comment » | 2 Stars, Foreign

The Deep

December 9th, 2012 — 10:27pm


The Deep- sp

It is easy to see why this movie is  currently the  #1 film in Iceland and is that country’s entry for the best foreign film. It is a fairly authentic depiction of the frigid North Atlantic Ocean and a man’s survival in it for 6 freezing hours. This true story is well known to inhabitants of this country and especially  those from the off shore island from where this  ill fated fishing trawler departed. It is here that we meet the small crew the night before as they get ready to leave their friends, families and, for some, the usual night out on the town. The viewer is lulled into the boring routine of another fishing excursion in the brutal cold water trawling the nets for fish. Without warning we are thrown into the water with Gulli (Olafur Darri Olafsson) as he creates with the help of director Baltasar Kormakur the journey which defied medical science. Kormakur did not have CGI effects or a large bathtub to film this picture and actually used the real sea, huge waves and all. Credit should go to this team for the realism which they achieved (even though we felt that it  looked like the hero  was treading water most of the time rather than swimming a distance which was documented  (although his rescuers and doctors said they could  not believe was true.) Nevertheless, the overall effect was quite dramatic and knowing that it was a true story, we shared the awe that the doctors had after extensively examining this man after this feat. ( 2012)

Comment » | 3 Stars, Drama, Foreign, History

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