Godland was inspired by seven wet-plate photographs taken by a Danish priest in the late 1800s, when Iceland was part of the Kingdom of Denmark. They are the first known images of one of Iceland’s most remote coastal regions.
Lucas, (Elliot Crosset Hove) a young priest, is advised by his colleague to learn how to adapt to the extremes of the land, weather and people before settling off with an expedition overland to build a new church in a remote area before winter sets in.
Horses are packed with supplies which include a large wooden cross and bulky photographic equipment which he will use to record the journey.
They are to travel for many days over snow-covered plateaus, rolling green mountains, swamps and glaciers.
It becomes apparent that Lucas has not ridden a horse. He is ridiculed by the expedition leader Ragnar ( Ingvar Eggert Sigurosson) and tension develops between them. They do not speak the same language and are polar opposites.
Lucas’s missionary zeal is tested on the gruelling journey when the translator (Hilmar Guojonsson) dies. He prays for deliverance from an unbearable situation. But with a rather startling edit the film changes when the expedition eventually arrives at its destination and the church is built by the community it is to serve.
This is the third feature film from award-winning director Hlynur Palmason (White White Day). He is a native of Iceland who is interested in the history and the relationship between Denmark and Iceland. Using round edged film stock and toned lenses on a small screen, he started filming two years before the arrival of the actors, who have worked with him on previous films.
Maria von Hausswolff beautifully filmed the awesome vistas, and the score, which evokes howling winds was composed by Alex Zhang Hungtai.
This is a meditative film of visual splendour about the arrogance of colonialists, faith, and the eInffect nature has on humans. There is a great deal to think about.
Spoken in Danish and Icelandic with English subtitles.
Two hours and 23 minutes.
Showing at Somerville Nedlands until Sunday 26 February at 8 pm.
Watch the trailer…