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July 12, 2005

Zero Kelvin

Kjaerlighetens kjotere
Hans Petter Moland - 1995
Kino DVD

While his newest film, Beautiful Country, appears to have his strongest distribution in the U.S., I first heard of Hans Petter Moland from his earlier film, Aberdeen. That film was a dark comic road trip from Scotland to Norway, about the reluctant reunion between a materially successful daughter and her disolute father. Made five years before Aberdeen, Zero Kelvin is an even darker film of a simultaneous inner and outer voyage.

The film takes place in about 1925. Larsen is a struggling poet who goes to an isolated part of Greenland for one year. His job is to help trap animals for the fur trade and write a journal for eventual publication. Prior to his leaving Norway, we see him with a woman, Gertrude. While they express love for each other, their mutual sense of committment seems uncertain. At the outpost in Greenland, Larsen is assigned to be with a scientist, Holm, and a trapper, Randbaek. The film follows the uneasy relationship of the three men. In particular, Randbaek and Larsen have the strongest dynamic, bringing out the best and worst in each other.

What I especially liked about Zero Kelvin is the sense of wonder conveyed about Greenland. The rocky beach and vast plains and mountains of ice are a landscape that one doesn't see to frequently in films. The sense of maddening isolation is palpable. There are scenes where the only sounds are the wind and the cracking of ice. One image of surreal beauty is of a partially sunken ship, frozen in the ice, with one end sticking up and sideways.

Moland indicates an interest in people in alienated from their environment and each other. Based on the two films I've seen to date, I am looking forward to seeing his first film, The Last Lieutenant, as well as his newer work.

Posted by peter at July 12, 2005 10:14 PM