For his second film, WOMAN AT WAR, Benedikt Erlingsson paints the beautiful portrait of a strong woman, connected with nature and committed to its defense.
With WOMAN AT WAR, the producer Benedikt Erlingsson and his co-writer Ólafur Egill Egilsson give further proof, if any were needed, that two men can perfectly imagine a beautiful character inspired, strong and independent woman. Benedikt Erlingsson, we met during the presentation of his film at the International Film Festival of La Rochelle, think the art and the way of telling the stories that must lie beyond the genre. It was especially the desire of composing for a time, “a heroine like Joan of Arc with the spirit of Artemis”, and has had the good idea to add friends but no “love story or sex, so cliché“.
The picture the director paints of this warrior, activist of modern times, in a struggle against a multinational corporation that produces aluminum but destroyed the surrounding nature, is particularly successful. There are several reasons for this. First of all, through the course of this woman, determined and fearless, the director offers the viewer the opportunity to learn about Iceland, its culture, its rites and the life of its inhabitants. The actions that leads Halla (Halldóra Geirharðsdóttir) to defend a cause environmentally friendly as it considers just, are thus quite in tune with the very strong connection that icelanders have with the Mother Nature.
Because “The Woman Montages”, as Halla called it, draws its energy in the nature. It is often seen lying on the ground, hands in the earth, nose in the heather and the moss, it breathes and on which it is based. For the developer, “Halla has a mission very difficult because she is convinced that she is in war against the nasty capitalists that it accuses of irreparable damage”.
Oscillating cleverly between political film, a feminist film and fable, WOMAN AT WAR questions the consciousness of the spectators on the future of the Earth
But it is a long way from the fight for the environment and claims grouped. Certainly there was Baldwin, who works for the government, and with which it exchanges on the strategies to carry out. It is a little exceeded by the risks sometimes unwise that Halla, sure of his good right, takes only. Even his twin sister Ása is not in the secret acts of sabotage. Benedikt Erlingsson made this choice story of twin zygosity, which we can also blame some of the facilities, because he was in need of “show two ways of seeing the world and consider a solution: a violent, through the radical actions of Halla, and the non-violent Ása, who undertakes a work on itself in order to be able to change the world”. It was thought for a time to find twin actresses, before offering the two roles to the great Halldóra Geirharðsdóttir.The other point cultural fundamentally different from our Latin american culture discussed in WOMAN AT WAR, it is the difficulty to show emotions. The director said himself said that “the fact that people do not express what they think, leaves a lot of space to imagine what is going on in their heads and to tell stories in a nordic-style”. And this is what he manages to do really well in externalizing metaphorically and music the feelings of Halla. Three musicians of a band are evolving with their instruments around the heroine, mainly during the action scenes and sabotage. They sometimes even characters who inter react with Halla and meet his gaze. Then there is the heart of the three singers Ukrainian, that is seen especially when Halla sorrow. It is for the director, the symbol of “the spirit of Mother Nature, whose songs touch the heart”.
Because Ukraine plays an important part in the history of WOMAN AT WAR, and not only because the film is a co-production with ukraine. For Benedikt Erlingsson “this nation in the heart of Europe has not really changed, it is in war and has left many orphans“. And it happens that the other mission of Halla, it is to save an orphan girl Ukrainian by adopting it. The other two characters are very touching and sources of smiles. And the distant cousin that helps Halla in his fight, and the young migrant who, as a running gag, is always found at the wrong place and the wrong time. The look he has on aboriginal people is quite gratifying. Oscillating cleverly between political film, a feminist film and fable rassérénante, WOMAN AT WAR encourages without proselytizing the audience to examine their conscience, or even to bring about these environmental issues of concern for the future.
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• Production : Benedikt Erlingsson
• Screenplay : Benedikt Erlingsson, Ólafur Egill Egilsson
• Main players : Halldóra Geirharðsdóttir, Jóhann Sigurðarson
• Release Date : 4 July 2018
• Duration : 1h40 min