#SheReviews Film: Godland

August 18, 2023

Godland the movie is a stunning historical drama that is insightful, mystifying, depressing yet enlightening with its humourous moments.

It was merciless and real given the story, timeline and remote location. A lonely place, the people suspicious and wary of this not-so-friendly priest.  Award-winning writer/director Hlynur Pálmason’s touched all the right emotional buttons and typecast his characters well. 

This thought-proving film captivated me. Set in the late 1800s, Godland is slow-paced although transfixing.  Quiet moments were quickly overruled by the silent powerful breathtaking cinematography of Iceland. Full credit to the crew and their patience to capture the ever-changing majestic beauty and petrifying harshness of Iceland’s landscape.  

The attention to detail was not missed including the images captured on glass plates (ambrotypes) used by photographers in the 19th century. Despite the desolate environment and coarse living conditions, there is a terrifying beauty that is alluring. 

The Story

An idealistic but naive young Danish priest Lucas (Elliot Crosset Hove), is on his way to a remote part of Iceland to build a Christian church and photograph its people. 

With the help of a translator (Hilmar Guðjónsson) and guide (Ingvar E. Sigurðsson), he chose to journey across the spectacular, dangerous largely unexplored terrain, littered with glaciers and rivers. 

He envisaged his pilgrimage across Iceland would expose him to new villages and people where he would gain a sense of the people and environment. His naivety and ignorance are overwhelmingly frustrating. The deeper he and his small team of trekkers advance into the unforgiving landscape, the more he faces the reality of his irretrievable situation. 

Lucas, emotionally withdrawn, is obsessed with documenting and photographing this strange new world and is forced into facing the conflicting truths between a clergyman and a normal man. 

His ideas, identity and moralities are tested.  He is not welcome in the small village. Disappointingly, as their new priest, he makes little effort to hide his mutual feeling. Language barriers add to the frustrations of both locals and him. 

In time he finds himself straying from his purpose, mission and morality, with unexpected and shocking repercussions. 

Cast and Crew

Director: Hlynur Pálmason

Cast: Elliott Crosset Hove, Ingvar Sigurðsson, Hilmar Guðjónsson, Vic Carmen Sonne, Jacob Hauberg Lohmann, Ída Mekkín Hlynsdóttir

Only in cinemas from 17 August

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