CHILDREN OF NATURE (Boern Natturunnar)(director/writer/producer: Fridrik Thór Fridriksson; screenwriter: Einar Gudmundsson; cinematographer: Ari Kristinsson; editor: Skule Eriksson; music: Hilmar Örn Hilmarsson; cast: Gísli Halldórsson (Thorgeir), Sigridur Hagalín (Stella), Bruno Ganz (Angel); Runtime: 85; MPAA Rating: NR; producers: Wolfgang Pfeiffer/Skule Hansen; Metro Films/Northern Arts Entertainment; 1991-Iceland-in Icelandic with English subtitles)
“An unencumbered magical fable, that is intelligent and unsentimental.”
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
Icelandic director and co-writer Fridrik Thór Fridriksson has created an unencumbered magical fable aided by the splendid camerawork of Ari Kristinsson, that is intelligent and unsentimental. It was co-written by Einar Gudmundsson. It’s a refreshingly beautiful drama that reflects the stunning scenery of Iceland and in a lyrical way questions the choices one makes to live a valuable life.
It’s about Thorgeir (Gísli Halldórsson), an elderly farmer who sells his sheep and land and moves into the tiny Reykjavik high rise apartment with his daughter and son-in-law and their daughter. When this doesn’t seem to be working out as planned, Thorgeir is shuffled off to a rest home. There he encounters his childhood sweetheart, the 79-year-old Stella (Sigridur Hagalín). After she complains how miserable she is in the home, they together scheme to return to the remote northern part of the country of their childhood. After closing their bank accountants and settling all their affairs, they sneak off by jump-starting a parked jeep. Meanwhile the authorities are searching to bring them back to the retirement home.
When the couple leaves the congestion of the city and enter the stunning beauty and isolation of the village and the fjords of their birthplace, the inhospitable landscape that they are crossing over becomes overwhelming and the film moves into fable territory. In its simplicity it tells in a lighthearted but significant way the couple’s need to live out their lives in freedom and not be bullied by others, no matter how well-intentioned their aims might be. It’s a film of sublime beauty and of the couple’s quiet voices calling out for dignity and of how the modern world lost something vital by losing its feel for nature.
It was the first film from Iceland to be considered for an Academy Award nomination as Best Foreign Film.
REVIEWED ON 2/18/2004 GRADE: B
Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”
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