Godland (in-person & online)
Elliott Crosset Hove, Ingvar Eggert Sigurðsson
Icelandic writer-director Hlynur Pálmason’s (A White, White Day) extraordinary third feature finds a Danish priest battling both locals and a forbidding landscape in 19th century Iceland.
Lutheran priest Lucas (Elliott Crosset Hove) has been assigned by the Church of Denmark to establish a parish in the barren wilds of Iceland. A foolhardy soul, he decides to take an arduous cross-country route, much to the annoyance of his guide and soon-to-be neighbour Ragnar (Ingvar Sigurðsson), who even has to drag him to their destination when the priest falls from his horse. Undeterred, Lucas begins his work, but finds the locals less than receptive to his spiritual advances – at the same time as his faith is tested by the unsettling beauty and indifference of the natural world around him. Just as he understands language is a barrier between him and his potential congregation, so Lucas sees the landscape as a wildness he must tame.
Exploring Iceland’s colonial past and attempting to see his homeland the way it must have appeared to the Danes who claimed and controlled it until World War II, Godland is a film of tremendous scope and power, offering up an elemental world of transfixing beauty that is entirely unforgiving to those who attempt to live in it, and showing how its slow rhythms and inhospitable forces are far stronger than people, their cultures or their religious zeal.