Tuesday, 30 September 2014

Of Horses and Men

Benedikt Erlingsson debut film reinforces my belief that there is no point to any beast unless they serve a legitimate purpose.  Written as well as directed by Erlingsson this Icelandic black comedy is, to say the least, a strange affair, not an unenjoyably one, just strange! Of Horses and Men (201,3) is beautifully shoot in the bleak rural Icelandic countryside by Bergsteinn Bjorulfsson, it’s the story of an isolated community who are smallholders and horse breeders that have a weird kinship with the Icelandic ponies that seem to inhabit their part of the country in great numbers. There is an underlying sexuality, a constant threat of death or injury and where its community imbibe very large quantities of alcohol seemingly to null the pain of their lives.

Strange goings on in Iceland!

We first meet Kolbeinn (Ingvar Eggert Sigurossen who played the police officer in the wonderful Jar City in 2006) who after saddling up a small white pony, that he’s obviously a little too fond of, is seen riding across the valley to court the passionate widow Solveig (Charlotte Boving).  Joined by her mother and young son - tea and cake are served. On leaving to return home Solveig’s frisky black mare rises to the occasion and mounts the wee white mare with Kolbeinn still astride!  The valley looks on with the aid of binoculars and Kolbeinn’s embarrassment is resolved when he tearfully shoots his pony - dead. Another of the local male population is seen riding a horse into the ice-cold sea to intercept a Russian trawler to allow him to collect some very strong alcohol, ignoring the warning the crewmembers give him - tragedy follows. A dispute over a barbwire boundary fence also ends in disaster producing a second widow and another man loosing the sight in one eye. This incident is followed by a Spanish visitor getting stranded at night in below zero temperatures with one of the ponies and is forced to take an action that I promise you will make you look away.
Tragedy is never far away....

....nor is alcohol!

As you can see a film that’s somewhat different, but none the less enthralling with an excellent soundtrack by David Thor Jonsson that consists of choral sounds and primal drumming underscoring the power of its deadpan humour. And just remember that if you take off your rain pants it’s bound to rain!

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