Godland (2022) - 6/10
There’s instantly something like about the aesthetic of this film. It’s desaturated palette, it’s stark tone and who doesn’t love a well presented 4:3 frame. We meet Lucas (Elliott Crosset Hove) as he’s about to undertake his journey at the beginning of his priesthood in Denmark, with a posting to Iceland where he’s to spread the word, build a church, mingle with the locals and y’know… do Gods work. Simple tasks for a simple time. He seems a bit naive perhaps, but understands it won’t be easy. That he’s there to learn too. That he’ll need to adapt. Lucas is something of a photographer. A detail of which is used to explain the inspiration of this film, but I won’t spoil that. It marks him out though as a modern man in this early 19th century world or at least his desire to be seen that way. He likes the control of the camera, the precision required, the satisfaction of the resulting photograph. He seems hopeful, but I’m worried for him. Life is not as easy to control as a camera. His guide on arrival in Iceland is Ragnar (Ingvar Sigurdsson) a weather beaten man of the land with little time for religious nonsense. Shot on location in Iceland, the landscape is both brutal and beautiful. It matches the tone of the film perfectly. Wild and windswept, unspoilt and the dialogue only interjects when necessary with the simple score doing the same. An action film it is not, the camera when it does move is glacial, but the tension slowly clicks up notch by notch the further the horseback party delves into the country. I’m not going to lie, although it’s pacing feels natural, the first hour is a bit of a slog. That’s the point though, we’re to be as broken as Lucas. There’s no getting around it. It’s bleak. It’s worth sticking with though. Finding a small settlement in which to build his church, Lucas finds himself on an altogether different journey, one that will test him and those around him. Godland feels like a film that hides a lot from its viewer. It requires you to dig in, immerse and have faith. It’s a challenge, but nevertheless an interesting piece of cinema.