#57 – Svalbard

(1985, Swe, 100 min) Dir Tomas Kinnaman. Cast Stefan Gustaf, Harald Solberg.
Another animal-centric film from Kinnaman, following the international success of When I Was Born a Canary with this similarly contemplative but more expansive film. Mild mannered Peder travels to Svalbard to study the seabirds there (his favourite being the long tailed skua) and staying at the Norwegian station. Much of the film is without dialogue, following the characters as they traverse the vast empty spaces of the island – if you get the opportunity to see this on a cinema screen you should jump at it just for the landscapes. There’s a particularly deadpan Scandinavian sense of humour at play here too – you can see it in the way the camera pans from the flocks of birds on the beach to the gathered scientists watching them, huddled together in the brightly coloured jackets that identify them by the country they’re from, Peder in his yellow Swedish jacket by himself on the edge of the frame. The drama of the film is handled in a similarly removed fashion. While on their way back to the station in the coming night Peder and his Norwegian friend Ole are attacked by a bear. There’s nothing heightened in the moment, no music or close up or anything like that – you can see the bear coming from the distance and Peder readying his gun. He shoots it, it falls to the ground and that’s it. You can’t see nature loving Peder’s face in the scene as he’s facing away from the camera but Ole can and his placing his gloved hand briefly on his friend’s arm speaks volumes.


Twitter: @MadeUpFilms


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