The young and fanatical Jon is appointed pastor to a remote church in 17th century Iceland. As is custom, he marries the widow of his predecessor, a woman much older than he is. He is ...
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The young and fanatical Jon is appointed pastor to a remote church in 17th century Iceland. As is custom, he marries the widow of his predecessor, a woman much older than he is. He is ardent in his fight against Satan, and the villagers don't dare to question his authority. When he falls for a beautiful young woman, Jon is convinced witchcraft is at work, and his crusade leads to cruel executions of innocent people. The stronger his lust, the deeper his madness drives him in his religious fervor. Written by
Saw this movie on a snowy night in Reykjavik, in the Icelandic language, with no English subtitles. Didn't need them to get the gist: Even in as God-forsaken an outpost as 17th century Iceland must have been, God was still a great excuse to make human misery even more so.
A fascinating historical tale of life - and death, lots of it - on the fringes of pagan Europe. Man, what a horrible portrait this movie paints. This is Western Civilization at its lowest ebb, with barely literate cavemen scratching out a miserable existence from the rock and ice and entrails of flea-infested dogs and sheep. And those were the lucky ones! For the unlucky, the arrival of The Church (in the form of the Inquisition) means that it really can always get worse.
And a damning statement on Christianity it is. Religion here is the monster created in the brains of these pathetic troglodytes to punish mankind for daring to be human, for daring to think at all. For those of you who enjoy romantic fantasies of life in the middle ages, this film is a powerful reality check.
For those of you thinking about visiting Iceland, see this movie first, then go there, by all means, in the winter. A stark contrast, indeed-the Iceland of today is Xanadu, a spectacular success, a miracle to have survived this nightmarish beginning. Oh, yeah - the director made sure to throw in a bit of lurid sex and unexpected dark humor to keep your attention.
I give it 8.5 stars.
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