Director: Hlynur Palmason | Script: Hlynur Palmason | Cast: Elliott Crosset Hove (Lucas), Ingvar Sigurdsson (Ragnar), Vic Carmen Sonne (Anna), Jacob Lohmannn (Carl) ea | Time to play: 143 minutes | Year: 2022
The young and ambitious Danish priest Lucas travels through Iceland in the 19th century to oversee the construction of a church in a village. He is accompanied by, among others, an interpreter and guide Ragnar who makes it clear in advance that he has nothing to do with the Danes. During his trip, Lucas takes pictures of the tour group and nature.
You have been warned in advance that the world in Iceland is very different from that in Denmark. The eternally shining summer sun makes sleep impossible. Lucas will have to adapt, otherwise he could end badly. Lucas agrees politely. But the longer the trip lasts, the more uncomfortable he becomes. Ragnar thinks he’s a weird guy. The atmosphere becomes turbulent. Lucas finds it difficult to control his horse. He will have to move on, the question is whether he will survive.
the first part of land of god is filled with overwhelmingly beautiful nature images and feels like the Icelandic answer to Aguirre: the wrath of God. In that film, directed by Werner Herzog, the megalomaniac Aguirre wants to conquer the jungle and ends up delirious and crazy on a raft. Lucas’s ego is much smaller than Aguirre’s and the jungle cannot be compared to wild Iceland, but here too man is reduced to an ant. Also, director Hlynur Pálmason creates the same dreamy atmosphere with the enchanting soundtrack. As if Lucas had escaped from reality and now he had to save himself in another universe.
The images are beautifully staged with precision, with great attention to detail. The film elevates dirty fingernails, a fly in someone’s eye, and even handwashing to art. Miniatures that have been assembled with great attention and care. In fact, they are just very well composed photos.
Something remarkable happens in the second half. The group of travelers arrives in the town safe and sound, the church is built and Pálmason introduces the townspeople. Lucas’s part is still important (he’s still the priest) it seems land of god pushing it slightly towards the bottom. Very subtly, the movie changes Carl and his two daughters. The older clearly has a crush on the priest, Carl doesn’t like that. Why is not entirely clear.
The first part focuses on the grueling journey, but the second part fans out with different ideas resulting in shots that are too abstract and vaguely motivated. A little more clarity would have been nice. It’s as if Pálmason really needed more time to better resolve this part.
Fortunately, the first part is strong enough to make a deep impression. Slow movie lovers come with land of god Still, they are attractive. They will revel in Lucas’s long and exhausting journey.