Scandinavia House presents the film series 'Figures in a Landscape: Nature and Narrative in Norway' September 28 through December 9, 2011. Screenings are on Wednesdays at 6 pm and Fridays at 6:30 pm.
Norway’s natural landscape has historically played a role in shaping form, content, and metaphor in the country’s cinema. The vicissitudes of a hard climate, dramatic variations of daylight and twilight, dominance of the sea and wilderness, remoteness of rural and urban environments (and the traditional struggle to control) have all played a distinctive role, even contributing to a sense of national identity. The series presents a historical perspective on the relevance of natural phenomena and landscape in Norway’s cinema, expressing changes over time.
The Growth of the Soil/Markens grøde
September 28 & September 30
Directed by Gunnar Sommerfeldt (Norway, 1921). Isak (Amund Rydland) and Inger (Karin Thalbitzer) are pioneers in the wilderness of Northern Norway. They struggle with their homestead, but see results of their hard work: their turf hut is replaced by a real house; they get cattle and have children. But when one child is born hare-lipped, Inger kills it and is sent to prison. While she is away, the society changes – a copper mine is constructed and more settlers arrive. But Isak keeps on with his farming, which is what most of the settlers must to do after the mine fails. The film is based upon Knut Hamsun’s 1917 Nobel Prize-winning epic by the same name. 117 min.
The Bride of Glomdal/Glomdalsbruden
October 5 & October 7
Directed by Carl Th. Dreyer (Norway, 1926). Injured in a fall from her horse, and cast out by her father, Berit (Tove Tellback) is cared for by her fiancé Tore's (Einar Sissener) parents until a reconciliation is effected; and the marriage takes place, but not before Tore has had to make a hazardous crossing of the river on horseback.
After focusing in on the details of daily life in Tore’s tiny apartment, the film opens outwards and Dreyer turns his lens on log cabins tucked away in great rolling hills, Berit on horseback galloping across the fields, valley peasants dancing in the smoke of a lakeside fire, and two wedding parties standing helplessly on opposite sides of the river watching as Tore and his horse are swept down towards the rapids. With live piano accompaniment by Ben Model. 115 min.
October 12 & October 14
Directed by Tancred Ibsen (Norway, 1937). The arrival of some kind of “free spirit” — usually a dark, handsome stranger — that upsets rigid local customs is a frequent theme in Norwegian film; adapting Gabriel Scott’s novel, Tancred Ibsen created one of the most moving renditions of this classic plot. Josefa lives with her uncle while waiting for her fiancé Oskar to return from the sea. Fearing her uncle’s intentions, she runs away and seeks shelter in the boat of Fendrik, a “sea gypsy” who wanders the coast. But Fendrik soon develops his own lust for her, as he attempts to draft her into his shady lifestyle. In Tramp Ibsen had clearly mastered all the conventions of Hollywood-style melodrama, with stark delineations of good and evil and progress towards a final resolution. And yet while Fendrik clearly falls into the “evil” column, there’s a sense that Josefa’s time with him introduces her to a sensuality and freedom that her eventual life with the upstanding Oskar most probably won’t provide. 95 min.
Nine Lives/Ni liv
October 26 & October 28
Directed by Arne Skouen (Norway, 1957). This harrowing account from the real life of Jan Baalsrud – Norwegian resistance fighter during World War II and the lone survivor of a Nazi attack in the winter of 1943 – is based on his struggle, related in flashback, to escape across northern Norway to neutral Sweden neutral. Blind from the snow, frostbitten, and dependent on the mercy of strangers, he manages to endure for weeks. Based on the book We Die Alone by David Howarth, Nine Lives was nominated for best foreign language film, and was entered into the Cannes Film Festival. In 1991, Norwegian television audiences voted it the greatest Norwegian film ever made. 96 min.
November 16 & November 18
Directed by Arne Skouen (Norway, 1969). The film is an adaptation of the well-known trilogy Bread of Night by Norwegian writer Johan Falkberget. The plot, set in the ravishing natural landscape of the Norwegian countryside, offers a slice of 17th-century life in a rugged region of ore mines and smelting furnaces. The heroine, An-Magritt (Liv Ullman), is a simple woman who thrives because of her beauty and her exceptional survival skills. The village of her birth is a harsh environment dominated by men; as an orphan girl it was all she could do to survive. She learned to handle herself as a man in husbandry and trade, and even to read and write. Her adult life is full of daily drudgery and adversity as she struggles against poverty, prejudice, and the natural elements. Then her pride is broken by the arrival of a stranger – Johannes (Wolf von Gersum), a German scholar and builder of waterwheels. Charmed by his noble masculinity, An-Margitt experiences the power of love, but human malice and resentment can still do their work. 101 min.
November 30 & December 2
Directed by Erik Løchen (Norway, 1959). The wave of formal experimentation in cinema in the late 50s/early 60s was represented in Norwegian cinema by Erik Lochen’s intriguing first feature, The Hunt. The film tells the story of three people — a married couple and the husband’s best friend, who go off together on a trip to the country. Along the way, and once they arrive, we hear their thoughts, memories, and fears, moving between each characters’ private visions and the story world often without warning, until personal and public space blur. Like another 1959 release, Alain Resnais’ Hiroshima Mon Amour, The Hunt shows how the past can be so alive that it overwhelms the present. The three central performances by Rolf Søder, Benedikte Liseth, and Tor Stokke are outstanding, and help anchor Lochen’s innovative approach to storytelling to a very emotional drama. 94 min.
Lake of the Dead/De dødes tjern
December 7 & December 9
Directed by Kåre Bergstrøm (Norway, 1958). Six friends on a weekend outing far from Oslo discover that one member of their party, an early arrival, has disappeared. According to local legend, a phantom with one leg stalks the nearby lakeshore. A fascinating thriller based on the book by Bernhard Borge (alias André Bjerke) about para-psychology and mysteries in the deep forest. A cult film among contemporary young film makers in Norway today. 76 min.
Individual Tickets: $10 ($7 ASF Members); Series Pass: $55 ($40 ASF Members)
Dinner & a Movie @ Scandinavia House
Ongoing, 5-10 pm (Last seating 9 pm)
$31 per person ($27 ASF Members)
Pairing top-notch Scandinavian cinema and music with fine Nordic cuisine, Smörgås Chef @ Scandinavia House continues its popular Dinner & a Movie and Dinner & a Concert three-course prix fixe dinner menus. Available from 5 to10 pm, these ongoing offers feature a selection of favorite dishes including herb-roasted chicken, cured gravlaks and Swedish meatballs, and include one admission to that evening’s film screening or concert.
For more information, please call Smörgås Chef @ Scandinavia House at 212.847-9745 or visit www.smorgas.com.
Film screenings are held in Victor Borge Hall, named in honor of the legendary Danish entertainer and in recognition of his generosity to Scandinavia House.