15 Dec

Inspired by Iceland

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The soaring beauty and devastation of Godland

The soaring beauty and devastation of Godland

Hlynur Palmason's Godland will be Iceland's contender in the 2024 Oscar race for best international feature.

A still from Godland of Danish priest Lucas (Elliott Crosset Hove) on Iceland's shores. Photo: Maria von Hausswollf

A still from Godland of Danish priest Lucas (Elliott Crosset Hove) and men carrying supplies. Photo: Maria von Hausswollf

Iceland's breathtaking landscapes play a staring role on the big screen in Hlynur Pálmason's Godland.

Under Pálmason's direction, Godland juxtaposes the stunning Icelandic scenery with the complex interplay of faith, human nature, and colonialism and transforms it into a gripping psychological epic.

Set among the rugged terrain of late 19th-century Iceland when the country was a Danish colony, the film follows Danish priest Lucas (Elliott Crosset Hove) on a formidable mission to establish a church on Iceland's southeastern coast. His journey is a vivid exploration of human resilience as his resolve is thoroughly tested when confronting the harsh terrain, temptations of the flesh, and the reality of being an intruder in an unforgiving land.

Chosen as Iceland's contender for the Best International Feature for the 2024 Oscars, Godland is a testament to Iceland's cinematic prowess in recent years. Celebrated globally, with festival screenings at Cannes, Telluride, and Toronto in 2022. Godland has been a critical hit with the Guardian's Peter Bradshaw rated Godland with a 5-star review, saying, "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." 

The trailer for Hlynur Palmason's Godland.

The film's artistry has not gone unnoticed, earning numerous awards, including the Gold Hugo at the Chicago Film Festival and Best Feature Film at the Riga International Film Festival in Latvia. Pálmason was honored as Director of the Year at Iceland's 2023 Edda Awards.

As Variety's Peter Debruge says of Pálmason, "It stands to reason that a director with such patience does not tell breakneck stories, but instead expects his audiences to lean in and engage with the project's strange and sometimes taxing rhythms. He's a cinematic original whose voice grows stronger and more certain with each film."

A still from Godland of a man taking a photograph. Photo: Maria von Hausswollf

In the US, Janus Films distributed the theatrical release in early 2023, followed by Criterion Channel streaming, bringing the film to an even wider audience. For serious film buffs, check out this fun video of Hlynur Pálmason picking out some of his favorites in the Criterion Closet.

The film's production, a collaborative effort between Denmark's Snowglobe and Iceland's Join Motion Pictures, highlights the flourishing partnership that previously brought us Pálmason's A White, White Day. 

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