Trapper Lars is living on Spitsbergen, an island far north of Norway. His life consists mainly of hunting and fishing for survival. Being in peace with his environment, the sudden arrival of Ellen, a student, is quite a disturbing event. Lars, who permitted her to visit and live with him during the dark and cold winter in the first place, soon is challenged by her attraction and also by her strict will only to gain experience. The relation between the two unalike persons - who don't even have a language in common - is stressed from the beginning, and when Ragnar, another trapper, comes over, the situation is about to change. Written by
Julian Reischl <email@example.com>
I first saw "When the Light Comes" on television late night movies six years ago. Due to the usual timing problems associated with the late night presentation, the ending was cut off. I waited unsuccessfully since then for this film to reappear. Apparently, it's only available on DVD as a PAL European version so I had to wait until I found a Region-free DVD player so I could see the whole movie.
I'm glad I did because the ambiguous ending minimizes the film's other imperfections. Do the ending scenes with Ellen and Lars playing snow golf show that Ellen did return to Spitzbergen to live with Lars? Did Ellen return to Robert and are the ending scenes just Ellen's happy memories? The book might provide a clue but it's never been translated to English so North Americans who don't speak Dutch are left to ponder the ambiguous ending. Maybe people from the Netherlands are also out of luck as I can't locate a Dutch version either.
The European version DVD doesn't come with English subtitles, just in Dutch or German. That's a small impediment because most of the film's dialogue is in English. In my case, I could remember the Dutch dialogue from the English subtitles in the TV version. It consists mostly of Ellen's feelings in letters to Robert, which you can sense from the action and the English portions, boring stuff for a guy. As a bonus, the European version includes the story how the movie was made. This is mostly in the Dutch language but many scenes are in English because not all the crew and actors spoke Dutch.
Some reviews of the movie commented on Francesca's lack of experience when this movie was made. I think it worked in this movie as it could be a part of Ellen's initial awkwardness at the strange situation of a young woman being cooped up for months with an older man. Joachim Król is an experienced actor. I don't know how he was able to speak English with a Norwegian accent when he sounds quite German in real life. Check out his accent in English in the Special Features.
This is not a classic movie but it is much better than average. It's well worth the effort of finding a copy.
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