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Godland Vanskabte Land

Hlynur Pálmason / Iceland, Sweden, Denmark, France / 2022 / 138 min / Icelandic, Danish

A visually stunning film about a Danish priest facing thousands of challenges in 19th-century Iceland. His mission of setting up a parish is hindered by everything from the harsh environment, volcanic eruptions and midnight sun to his own prejudices and indecision.

“It’s easy to lose your mind there, it has nothing to do with Denmark,” the bishop warns the young, ascetic priest Lucas before he embarks on a mission to the "wilderness". But Lucas doesn't heed his advice: despite impossible conditions, he brings along a load of books and heavy photographic equipment, travels by horse instead of a boat and demands the locals speak Danish. On top of which, his moral principles are compromised when he meets the daughters of his host... Shot in the 4:3 format, the film was inspired by wet-plate photographs taken by a Danish priest that are the first known images of one of Iceland’s more remote coastal regions.

“I think the Danes definitely looked down on the Icelanders at a certain time in history. They don’t anymore, but there was a time it was like that, and if you read the notes or the diaries by seafarers, for example, people travelling between the countries during that time, you see that. People – Danish captains, boat members, sailors – tended to think the Icelanders were, if you read those texts, smelly and ugly, wearing ugly clothes. They were probably right. I like that both sides have flip sides, or both sides have good qualities and negative things.”
- Hlynur Pálmason

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