Set in the late 19th century, Godland tells a story of a young Danish priest who travels to a remote part of Iceland to build a church and photograph its people. But the deeper he goes into the unforgiving landscape, the more he strays from his purpose, the mission and morality.
National Jury´s motivation: At a time when many nations have to examine their past with a magnifying glass, director Hlynur Pálmason’s new film is both a grandiose and intimate human reflection on Denmark’s missionary past in Iceland.
A Danish priest travels through the rugged Icelandic landscape armed with good intentions, but soon succumbs to his own physical and mental weaknesses, and the Danish-educated Icelandic director depicts his journey with a unique mix of Carl Th. Dreyer’s calm, liberatingly twisted sense of humour, and a nuanced gaze at the dark side of religion and the difficult encounter between the two cultures.
The film is based on the first photographs found in Iceland, and unlike the priest, Pálmason does succeed in his difficult mission: To make the past come alive for us with an unpredictable story and beautiful images, the encapsulation in 4:3 format makes the landscapes stand out in a new light.
Pálmason brings together the themes of masculinity and his incredible aesthetic sense from the previous films in his career’s largest and most thought-provoking work to date.