It’s possible that you may not recognize the title. For some, it may ring a bell. Don’t worry, you haven’t gone crazy and you’re not alone. But take note, as this little gem of a movie is sure to generate a lot of buzz. The truth is that this spring of 2019 has been quite favorable for the film industry in Iceland. And this film starring Icelandic landscapes has already hit movie theaters. Since its premiere, it has managed to garner great reviews at events such as the Cannes Critics Week 2018. If you are interested in enjoying cinematic Icelandic landscapes, then you should not miss Woman at War.
Originally titled “Kona fer í stríð” which means “woman at war”, the film is a comedy with touches of drama directed by Benedikt Erlingsson and starring Halldóra Geirharðsdóttir. If any of you have seen the series “Trapped”, which is also Icelandic, surely you will recognize some of the cast. I don’t want to give away too many details about the film because I don’t want to spoil the story, but a short synopsis never hurt anyone.
Woman at War – What’s it about?
The film is about a sweet, unassuming singing teacher from Reykjavik. Her love for nature leads her to put herself on the warpath against the aluminum industry which is extremely harmful to the environment. Halla carries out her campaign against the Icelandic government in absolute secrecy. And that’s where we start to enjoy the contrast between the two very different sides of her personality.
On the one hand, she is a warrior and an avid fighter, capable of hatching crazy plans to reach her seemingly impossible goal. On the other hand, she is also an endearing and gentle choir director and lover of yoga. She’s striving to find the balance between these two parts of herself which are seemingly at odds. In the end, Halla is not only at war against the Icelandic government but against her own emotions. The same ones that come out when she finds out that her application for adoption has been accepted. She submitted it four years ago and had long ago given up on the prospect. Halla is then faced with a difficult decision: to continue with the campaign that many dismiss as activist terrorism or to renounce it. This will allow her to avoid prison and achieve her lifelong dream of being the mother to a sweet four-year-old Ukrainian girl.
Woman at War – Curiosities About Iceland
One of the reasons that led me to write this article were the curious things about Iceland that you can see in the film. If you like Icelandic culture, or if you simply want to travel to Iceland, you should go see it. Let’s get a little familiar with the country and its cultural touches that can be enjoyed in the film. Here are some of those little details:
Traditional Lopapeysa Wool Sweaters
If you watch the trailer, you’ll see that Halla wears a beautiful, typical Icelandic wool sweater. For those who do not know, they are called Lopapeysa and are part of our daily life. It is the perfect complement to fight against the cold and windy Icelandic climate. The wool allows perspiration, but in turn, keeps us warm. The fabric is water repellent and helps keep the breeze and dew so present in these latitudes at bay. They are made by hand and with the wool of the sheep that we have in the country.
Speaking of sheep, they also appear in the film. And it shouldn’t be any other way. When you come to Iceland, you will discover that the sheep usually roam completely free to graze. So they cross the road wherever they see fit. And our main character comes across this in a wonderful scene. When you see the movie, you will discover why.
Icelandic Public Swimming Pools
These are also a huge part of our culture. You’re also required to shower totally naked before and after entering the public pool. This is also reflected in the movie.
Locations for the Movie
Many parts of the film take place outdoors in the beauty of Icelandic nature. It’s easy to understand why Halla fights so much for the land she holds so dear. Here you can see the typical landscapes of this amazing area of Iceland. The green Icelandic moss, fields of lava, mountains with the mist descending the hills. And of course, we can’t forget the glaciers.
Iceland is a volcanic island, and geothermal activity is a part of our day to day life. Apart from the heated swimming pools, we have these natural baths that we like to use to relax in the middle of nature.
The capital of Iceland also appears in the film. You can easily see the Hallgrimskirkja church in several shots as well as the seat of the Icelandic government.
If you have been to Iceland, you will instantly recognize this spot. And if not, you will soon be familiar. Keflavik airport and some of its exteriors with famous sculptures on the airport grounds appear in the film.
Woman at War – A Showcase of Icelandic Scenery
So now you know. Doesn’t an evening at the movies sound like a perfect plan? You will immerse yourself in the Icelandic culture while enjoying this highly recommended film. I invite you to tell us in the comments what you think and if you have been able to recognize any filming locations in Iceland.