As its title suggests, Iceland’s Oscar entry is all about horses and people. Despite the gorgeous shots of nature and the dry Icelandic humour, it is the horses who steal the show. This is a modern western edging towards surrealism with a liberal dose of deadpan humour. This concoction tempts comparisons between Erlingsson, the Icelandic director, and the Dutch director Alex van Warmerdam. As Erlingsson goes to work depicting the limits of a small, isolated community, the horse’s eye serves to reflect the proud human inhabitants in this colossal landscape and their activities involving air guns, binoculars and whisky flasks.
In an inhospitable valley the villagers brave the freezing weather together with their horses. These squat but hugely strong Icelandic horses have as much personality and balls as their owners. This results in comic and absurd situations in which the party coming off worst is sometimes the person and sometimes the horse. The film is all about the bond between horses and people. We follow various characters, including horseman Kolbeinn. Unapproachable, like a crack soldier in Napoleon’s Imperial Guard, he rides his small Icelandic horse. Proudly, he arrives to see Solveig, his wife and the object of his affection. But a little while later his pride is shattered in a hilarious way. Another storyline concerns the Spanish tourist Juan who has been left behind by his group as the sun sets and the snow continues to fall…
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