The Guardian um VOLAÐA LAND: Fegurð og hryllingur í mikilfenglegri stúdíu um prest sem byggir kirkju

Peter Bradshaw gagnrýnandi The Guardian fjallar um Volaða land Hlyns Pálmasonar og gefur henni fimm stjörnur. Sýningar hefjast í Bretlandi 7. apríl.

Bradshaw skrifar:

Harshness is transformed into beauty and then terror by this extraordinary film from Icelandic director Hlynur Pálmason about a 19th-century Danish pastor sent to establish a new church on Iceland’s remote south-eastern coast. I left the cinema dazed and elated by its artistry; it is breathtaking in its epic scale, magnificent in its comprehension of landscape, piercingly uncomfortable in its human intimacy and severity. There is such superb compositional sense in the still life tableau shots and the almost archaeological sense of time, creating something deeply mysterious and unbearably sad. There are echoes of Werner Herzog’s Aguirre, the Wrath of God, Roland Joffé’s The Mission, Lisandro Alonso’s Jauja – and even Howard Hawks’s Red River.

Pálmason announces in the opening credits that the story was inspired by the supposed discovery in Iceland of seven glass-plate photographs of people and places taken there at the end of the 19th century. While the claim is a deadpan fiction, his screen has an almost square 1.33:1 aspect ratio, perhaps in honour of the still photograph motif. This smaller-size, in such contradistinction to the movie’s CinemaScope ambition and spectacle, gives a density to the viewing experience.

Elliott Crosset Hove plays Lucas, a highly-strung young clergyman instructed by his bishop to travel to a pioneer community in Iceland (then a Danish dependency), superintend the church-building and install himself as parish priest. Lucas makes this arduous journey first by sea and then overland with horses, taking among his luggage a huge and burdensome cross, climbing mountains and fording rivers with it. But Lucas has a secular-ethnographic project to go with the imperial Christian mission: he dreams of taking the first pictures there, capturing the people with new technology. His cumbersome tripod goes on his back, its three spiked feet poking up behind his head, a version of the points of a crucifix. The camera is Lucas’s ordeal as he visits his stations of the cross.

Driven to the edge of madness by hardship and physical pain, Lucas has a thwarted friendship – or something more – with his translator (Hilmar Gudjónsson), and finally finds an erotic connection with Anna (Vic Carmen Sonne), the daughter of the local parishioner, who takes him in. But his life is dominated by his cantankerous, contemptuous Icelandic guide Ragnar, a tough, weatherbeaten veteran tremendously played by Ingvar Sigurdsson, the cop from Pálmason’s previous film A White, White Day. Palmasón shows that Lucas is humanised and possibly even redeemed by his encounters at journey’s end, particularly his relationship with his quasi-host, the level-headed widower Carl (a shrewdly judged performance from Jacob Lohmann), who is bemused by Lucas’s self-harming decision to come to Iceland in the most difficult way possible, and then suspicious of his potential designs on his eldest daughter. Anna’s younger sister Ida (Ída Mekkín Hlynsdóttir) has an attractively emollient role and her relationship with Lucas is gentle and sweet and brings out the nearest Lucas has to warmth.

The film’s mightiest figure is the implacable Ragnar. Far from helping Lucas across the terrain, Ragnar embodies it; he is the very personification of its hostility. As an Icelander, he hates the high-handed Dane with his book-learning. Lucas comes in turn to hate and fear him. And yet Pálmason shows that Ragnar softens imperceptibly even as he sabotages Lucas; he needs someone to confess his terror of God to while exorcising a lifetime of buried rage. In Godland, these emotions are projected out on to the stunning, daunting landscape to the accompaniment of spine-meltingly beautiful choral music. That austere, boxy screen looks like a window on to a vast, unfathomable world.

Klapptré er sjálfstæður miðill sem birtir fréttir, viðhorf, gagnrýni og tölulegar upplýsingar um íslenska kvikmynda- og sjónvarpsbransann. Ritstjóri er Ásgrímur Sverrisson.