The film will be screened in Norwegian with Slovenian subtitles.
Norway in the mid-1800s: A poor farmer's son, known as Espen ‘Ash Lad’ (17), is the youngest of three brothers. He is a cheerful and adventurous young man with a big heart, but is easily led astray. He has never quite seen eye to eye with his brothers Per (20) and Pål (19), mainly because Per has zero tolerance for Espen’s boyish shenanigans and colourful imagination.
At the palace, Princess Kristin is set to marry the dashing, but evil, prince Sigurd against her will. She escapes, flees on horseback and runs into Espen. With a sharp tongue and a quick wit, Kristin is Espen’s match in every way. That night she is taken by a giant troll known as the Mountain King, who puts her into his pantry as snack for later. The next day the king announces that he will reward whoever rescues his daughter with a sack of gold. Prince Sigurd promises to retrieve Kristin, and rides out to search for her.
Meanwhile, back home, Espen accidentally knocks some hot coals onto the floor, burning down the farm. Their only hope to rebuild their home is to find the princess and collect the reward. Espen and his brothers – angrier with Espen than ever – embark on their quest. In the forest, the brothers encounter an old woman with an absurdly long nose that has been wedged in a tree stump. Espen frees her and by way of thanks, she gives him a magic map, which will show him the way to anywhere he wants to go – as long as he asks it politely. She tells him that a magic sword called Tvegir is the only weapon that can defeat the Mountain King.
During their quest, the brothers fall under the spell of some shapeshifting, seductive hulders (fairy-like creatures, forest nymphs), defeat the malevolent water spirit Nøkken, ride on a moose and find Tvegir before losing both the sword and their magic map when they are captured by Sigurd and his men. Just as the brothers have lost all hope, the Mountain King attacks and grabs hold of both Sigurd and Pål.
Espen and Per eventually find the Mountain King’s cave and manage to free Kristin, Pål, and hesitantly, Sigurd. On the way out of the cave, Sigurd accidentally wakes the troll by stepping on its tail. They scramble up a mountain with the troll in hot pursuit. It’s almost dawn. Trolls turn to stone in sunlight. Just as they think they are doomed, the sun comes up and saves them. But not before Kristin has kissed Espen in what she thinks are her final moments.
Princess Kristin returns to the palace and her overjoyed parents – she is now free to marry whomever she likes, in her own time.
A few months later, the farm has been rebuilt, thanks to the king’s reward. The brothers are getting along better than ever before – they have finally learned to see past each other’s differences and respect one another.
»These tales come from the belief that nature contains miracles in a sense. I love the idea of getting the audience to go back to nature. Norse mythology and folk tales are full of inspiring classic stories of good vs evil, individual achievement and bravery. I was keen to bring back the traditional Norwegian storytelling to today’s younger audiences and adults. The original tale from the 13-14th century comes from the oral tradition and in the 19th century it was them written down by Peter Christen Asbjørnsen and Jørgen Moe. The original story was not humorous and had a strong notion of punishment. If you made the wrong choice, your skin would be peeled off, you would end up in a pit with a snake or your ears would be chopped off. Showing this on screen would have been gruesome for the young audience in our target group. However, I tried to retain the realistic feel in the dialogue and in the situations. I wanted the characters to change and grow through the journey.«
- Mikkel Brænne Sandemose