Jun 6, 2007
A 1995 film by Friðrik Þór Friðriksson.
Atsushi (a name that means "industrious") is a hard-working Japanese businessman looking forward to a well-earned golf vacation in Hawaii. But his life takes a sharp turn toward the unexpected when his conscience belatedly gets his attention: his presence is needed in Iceland, where his parents died some years before. Atsushi must honor his parents by finding the site where they died, so that their spirits may find rest. Giving up his golf vacation and his dreams of sunny beaches in Hawaii is the easy part.
Atsushi's odyssey takes him to increasingly remote and uninhabited parts of Iceland, where he meets some very eccentric people. We can't help but contrast this with his life in crowded, urban Japan, where personalities are more conventional. He leaves the semblance of the familiar in Reykjavík for mystical, magical country snowscapes where the unreal seems possible--or even probable.
We look through Atsushi's eyes at strange customs and events in a land where nothing is familiar and little is explained. It is refreshing to draw one's own conclusions, or make one's own guesses about this strange land and quirky people. There is so much to pique your curiosity. Does everyone sing in Iceland? What on earth are they eating? Do they really believe in mythical creatures? Do I really believe in mythical creatures?
Roger Ebert, in a very favorable review, admits to knowing little about Iceland prior to watching this film, and concludes: "I can now imagine visiting Iceland...". I hope you can too!
Friðriksson directed Children of Nature, another exceptionally fine film. Don't miss either of these.