"GRACE OF GOD," DIR. KRISTJÁN LOÐMFJÖRÐ
Almost the entire film by Kristján Loðmfjörð "Grace of God" consists of "talking heads," extraordinary stories, which are intimate confessions to the director. There are only a couple of scenes which reveal to us the landscape of north-eastern Iceland, but when they do appear, they have some kind of unique power and strength, exactly what the characters often mention.
The idea for the film - as the director says himself - arose when he was reading a book from the half of the last century, "True Tales of Animals." Kristján Loðmfjörð, inspired by the stories discovered in the book, decided to find, on the Icelandic province, the people who experienced extraordinary events featuring animals. As a result, he portrayed thirteen characters, who in front of the camera tell about their relations, friendships and contacts with animals, both farm animals and pets. There are amazing stories, emphasising intelligence, self-sacrifice and supernatural abilities of the pets. There are also such stories which tell about heroic deeds of animals saving people's lives, as well as supernatural, transcendental tales, because some of the characters talk about messages and signs from their deceased animal friends, about their ongoing spiritual presence in their lives.
What is lacking in all this is a little bit of ordinary, common everyday life of the storytellers, the everyday life in which these souls undoubtedly lurk. Long shots of the cool Icelandic landscape, which appear quite rarely, have something magnetic in them, they are soaked with the narrators' stories, and certainly, they could make a break in their long monologues much more often.
In "Grace of God," a religious song keeps on returning from time to time, and it can also be heard in the film's finale. Long live the sheep given by the grace of the Lord, we hear from one of the protagonists. This scene is set against the background of a farm interior, in which animals have been slaughtered, and fresh meat hangs on the meat hook. This discord between the spoken word and the image casts a shadow over the stories described in the film - these are the tales of beautiful, sensitive creatures, utterly devoted to people, but the fate of which seems to be already determined.