White Night Wedding (2008)
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But he meets this young girl and the circus is on. Or the chaos. The first half of this film is full of flashbacks. The content is both very tragical and most comical, but in this case, they don't match.
A good try perhaps, but not enough of it to make this a good movie. And the flashback technique could have been used with some moderation.
Love is woven through almost every character in this story, but produces radically different results. Naïve, young Þóra is completely blinded buy her love of Jon. She feels it is her duty to "fix" him, viewing him like a rickety house that she needs to restore to tip top shape. I believe she believes that she truly loves him, but will find much the same road ahead of her as his first wife. In the end, Jon is not all Þóra wanted and she is left to deal with the choices she has made.
Jon himself struggles with love, but the world-weary man does not seem to have had much to begin with. At the beginning, we are presented with a seemingly loving man and a miscommunication between him and his wife. Jon seems to crave love as much as his wife needs it but seems to be incapable of giving it. We see this when his wife is distraught from hitting a bird and he is unable to give her comfort. After she had frustratingly hung up the phone, He continues to talk to the phone, saying 'dear' and 'sweetheart'. Though he may be putting on a show for the man in his office, it is most likely a show for himself and his ideals of love.
There are two characters in this film that put their love of money before their love of people, Sísí and Séra Ólafur. It is not clear how much Sísí loves her husband, but what is clear, is that Sisi loves money. She lives for money and cannot understand those around her who do not do the same. She loves her daughter, and want acceptance from her, but tries to do so by giving her 'gifts' and the feast. This insults her daughter who wants nothing to do with money and who knows her mother cannot possibly understand her love for Jon. Séra Ólafur is entrapped by his love for money as seen by his new bike helmet and his frequent trips to the offering box. Séra seems to have pestered the small community of Flatey by the small continual joke the residences make about the money needed by the church. Séra's love for money shines through when on the day of the wedding, he beseeches god to not, make him do this wedding since he does not believe in it. After finding all the money flying around outside, he seems to have found his belief and goes as far as getting carried out to see to make sure that the couple gets married.
Friendship is another major theme that is explored. The friendships between men mostly, since the women in this film all seem a bit unstable or blindly devoted to love. This friendship of the male characters is built up slowly in the film, and comes to a culmination on the white night, where Sjonni, Börkur, and Matthildur (tied there by her infatuation with Börkur) set up a late dinner for Jon. They all have a wonderful time drinking as Lárus shows up to provide Jon with the money to keep Sísí happy. Jon and Lárus have a heart felt conversation in which their friendship and respect for each other can really be seen.
Nature is another main theme, specifically explored with Anna (Jon's dead wife). The first introduction the audience gets of Anna is when she is driving through the city looking anxious. This scene is cut with birds (specifically swans) that are flying around the city and landing in ponds. These two separate scenes literally collide when Anna hits a bird that had flown in front of the car. Anna is clearly upset by this, and it seems to be the turning point for her, where she decides to leave the city. While watching this, I viewed birds as Anna's spirit or emotional self. Clearly she cannot survive in the city and therefore must leave to be back to where she was from originally. The birds appear frequently on the island, and at very strategic times. When Þóra talks with Jon about leaving Anna, the birds in the background fly up in a great flock. When Jon and Þóra have sex, the thrushes are noisily disturbed and instantly Anna knows something is very wrong. Anna seems to be much happier and better on the island, connected with what she knows and the ocean, but Jon seems incapable of seeing it. When Anna kills herself, she takes a sinking boat into the ocean going back to nature and what she considers to be the mother of nature.
While this film weaves interesting connections between love, friendship, and nature, the main character is extremely hard to identify with. He is ultimately unlovable, which might fit in with his struggle to love, but he has two women that are completely devoted to him. This works with Anna since the audience assumes that at one point he was a better husband from the comments that she makes. But with Þóra this intense infatuation makes her seem stupid and dull. I found the interactions of almost everyone in the story more dynamic and interesting than the relationship between Jon and Þóra. Overall though, it was an entertaining film that was both lighthearted and dark, keeping you glued too it trying to decipher fact from fiction.
In White Night Wedding we meet a literature professor, Jon, who is preparing for his second marriage. The wedding is taking place on a small island called Flatey in Iceland that can only be visited by boat. Jon's soon to be wife, Thora, is one of Jon's former students and about half his age. They seem happy together, and everything should be set for a perfect wedding. However, it is not that simple, Jon has a couple of things he needs to take care of before the wedding can take place. He is in debt to Thora's mother, and she is threatening to call off the wedding unless Jon pays her. He is also haunted by memories of his first wife, Anna. In addition to this, he has to deal with his drunken best man.
I believe the most important theme in this movie is dreams. Jon is in a stage of his life where he struggles to find purpose. He is suffering from his first marriage, he is not able to pay his dept to his future mother in law, and he has no job. Jon wanted to become a professor so that he could make a difference in the world; however, when he realized that his job was not what he pictured it to be, he decided to take a break from teaching. If Jon does not get his life together, he will end up as his future father in law, Lasus. Although Lasus is happy on the outside, his decision to sacrifice his dream of becoming an opera singer for marrying Sisi is clearly affecting him. I believe this represents the kind of suffering that Jon will inevitably have to suffer unless he gets his life back on track. At the end, Jon says, "If you're happy for more than ten minutes then you're an idiot." This statement emphasizes his awareness of having a dream and a goal to strive for.
The director, Kormakur, did a phenomenal job representing Jon's memories of Anna in flashbacks throughout the movie. His way of jumping from the present to the past without warning the audience is an original way of portraying a story that is indeed built on the past. He dares to explore new effects that can make the story challenging to follow, but does it with such a perfection that the viewer wants more flashbacks to get a deeper understanding of Jon's actions.
Other main themes in this movie are relationships and greed. We see a relationship that is falling apart in Jon's memories, a relationship with Thora that is insecure in Jon's present life, a forced relationship between Thora's parents, and a starting relationship between Borkur and Mathildur to mention a few. Greed is represented in Sisi. All she cares about is money, and she is determined to get back the money Jon borrowed to build a golf course. Sisi's greed is contrasted in Lasus and Jon whom are not motivated by money at all.
The location chosen for this movie is a great representation of Icelandic culture. The idyllic climate and unpopulated atmosphere on Flatey confirms my stereotypic Icelandic environment. Also the acting in White night Wedding is phenomenal. The emotions brought to life are so natural and honest that you fall in love with the characters one by one. Borkur's passion, Mathildur's honesty, the priest's anger, and Jon's fare are some of the emotions that will bring the viewer on an emotional roller-coaster.
I recommend this movie to everyone that has some interest in Nordic film. The themes of dreams, relationships, and greed are themes we can all relate to, and you will at some level be able to relate to the situations that occur in the White Night Wedding. Kormakur is a world-class director who is not afraid to explore new methods to create movies. Let the actors charm you and let the director challenge your mind. This movie is worthy of all its awards. Dare to see it!
Base on an Chekhov's Ivanov, the film alters back and forth wonderfully over time on events before and immediately leading up to a wedding on an island between an professor and a young girl. While the story's theme obviously stated in the movie and told by the director in Q&A, is about searching for happiness and doing the "right" thing, many hilarious moments are interjected directly with the dramatic moments and vice versa. And these moments of emotional swings are very immediate creating a push and pull effect. And this might affect some audience immersing into the story.
Q&A also brought out the same cast also acted in a stage production of the same play during the same time as the film's release in Iceland and was a very successful run. At times though, I did find a certain "lecturing" aspect in a few of the scenes. So although good, still a very idealistic or somewhat protruding kind of meandering.
One of the main themes we can see in the film is money. Iceland's economic state is not very strong, so money is a common theme in Icelandic films. When Jón and Anna move to Flatey, Jón meets Börkur, who dreams of building a golf course on the island. Börkur convinces Jón to invest in this golf course, including cutting a deal with the family of his future bride, Þóra. Jón rents land from Þóra's family, but does not pay for it. This deal is central to the plot, as Þóra's mother continuously nags Jón and Þóra throughout the film, threatening to call off the wedding if he does not pay her. Þóra's father is frustrated by his wife's obsession with the money and secretly gives money to Jón to be used to pay for the land. However, Jón passes out outside and the money blows away to be found by the island's priest. The economy of Iceland clearly impacts the lives of those on the island and leads Þóra's mother to worry more about money than her own daughter's wedding.
While dealing with his fiancé's mother and her obsession with his debt, Jón is also feeling more and more guilty about the events leading up to his second marriage. We learn from a few flashbacks that Jón cheated on Anna with Þóra and when Anna caught them, she rowed a leaky boat into the sea and drowned herself. As we get closer to the wedding, Jón becomes increasingly quiet and distant from Þóra. At the wedding, Jón asks Þóra to step outside with him and calls off the wedding, telling her that he does not want to drive her to madness and death as he believes he did to Anna. She begs him to stop thinking that way, saying that she will make him happy and help him until the day she dies. During this argument, the entire wedding party comes out to watch the unfolding drama. Jón runs to the sea and gets in the same leaky boat that Anna used to drown herself. He prepares to kill himself the same way until Þóra and the rest of the wedding party make it to the sea. Þóra swims to him and they decide to get married in the sea. The priest is carried out and they take their vows, seemingly ending the movie on a positive note. Although Jón has had a hard time with his marriages and is unsure about marrying again, Þóra seems to have saved him and made him happy. However, the final scene tells us that that is not how the marriage works out. Ironically, Jón becomes the satisfied married man, while Þóra seems to become the one sneaking off and looking for something better, as Jón did with Anna. As cheating was a central theme in the plot of the film, this seems to be a sort of poetic justice for what Jón did to Anna and tells the viewers that cheating is usually not the best way to start out a relationship.
The action takes place in a small island off the coast of Iceland. Jon, a former college professor, has escaped to this isolated spot after being fed up with his life. He came with Anna, an artist, with whom he has been living. Anna shows signs of depression, or perhaps another affliction that keeps her emotionally apart from Jon.
One of Jon's students, Thora, arrive with a group of friends in Flatey. She has ties to the island. Her parents own the main store. It appears she was always attracted to her teacher, who is about twenty years her senior. Their affair plays heavily into Anna, who becomes even more despondent, leading ultimately to her own demise.
Director Baltasar Kormakur, whose "The Sea" made an impression, is at it again. The film is not exactly easy to sit through. The narrative may confuse his audience, but we realize there are two situations taking place at different times. The film was co-written by the director and Ogaful Egilsson. The creators tried to give the film a lighter pace, what with the idea of the golf course running through one small island into Flatey and different holes running among the residential area. The result is a film that needs to be viewed with an open mind because Mr. Kormakur has proved worthy of our attention. The Icelandic cast does justice to the director's intentions.
When the struggling couple moves to Flatley, Jon makes a business deal with, the parents of Thora, Sisi and Larus. The business plan was to open a golf course that stretched across the town in rather inconvenient locations. The golf course is poorly executed and which results in Jon accumulating an insane amount of debt. In the midst of this ridiculous golf course investment, Jon and Anna continue to grow further apart. Jon starts to become annoyed by Anna's creative and insane nature. He then develops an attraction for Thora, which results in a heated affair. Anna finds out about the affair and has a mental breakdown that ultimately puts an end to their life together.
Though the end of Jon's previous marriage is tragic and the beginning of his current one seems like a hopeless case, there is a dark comedic element to the film. I think this element is shown in the supporting roles and their pathetic nature. For example, Jon's best man, Borker, is an incredibly oblivious and clueless man who only makes Jon's life more difficult. In fact, it is ironic that Borker is Jon's best man as the golf course was his foolish idea that led to Jon's falling out between Thora's parents. Additionally, I think Jon's friend, Sjonni, brings a comedic element, as he is a complete drunk who spends half the movie trying to find his clothing. I found it rather comedic that a professor would have these kinds of friends and would want an alcoholic as an organist and a loon as a best man. It also showed how little Jon cared about the wedding and the haphazard nature of Jon's relationships outside of his marriage.
As I mentioned before there are flashbacks that show Jon's past relationship with Anna intermediately between Jon and Thora's wedding. There were several cinematic techniques that were used to emphasize this contrast. For example, when there were flashbacks the lighting changed to a duller yellowish/sepia tint whereas the present showed colors that were bright and clear. I felt like this contrast emphasized Jon's perspective and how he felt bored and trapped with Anna but had hope for his future with Thora. The director also used a lot of natural light which emphasized Jon's perspective. For example, on the night before Jon's marriage, the sun never goes down and Jon continues to talk about new beginnings. It looks almost as if Jon can live in this timeless capsule where the day never ends nor begins. However, this timeless and hopeful imagery is shortly shattered in the flash forward to Thora and Jon's actual marriage; which ends up being just as boring and loveless as his previous one.
Along with contrasts in lighting there is also a contrast between rural and urban setting as the characters move between both sceneries. The city is shown as slightly cramped and congested and the rural setting is isolated, picturesque, and spacious. I feel that these settings impacted Jon's attitude in various ways. For example, when Jon was in the city he appeared level headed with some deeper knowledge about the world, but while in the rural setting Jon's emotions fluctuate frequently and he has no real reason to his actions.
Overall I felt like the main character had a narcissistic personality and a stuck up demeanor when approaching his relationships. This aspect of the movie definitely detracted me from enjoying the film. That being said, I did appreciate the comedic effect the movie had despite the dark subjects of adultery, mental illness, and loveless marriages. I would recommend this movie for anyone who enjoys dark humor, outrageous characters, and tragic drama.
On the other hand the story was somewhat hard to understand for me. It took me half of the movie to actually understand that the movie is basically a big pile of mess assembled from scenes from "the past" and scenes from "the present". These scenes are blended so homogeneously that they actually seem to be single linear yet surreal story. Actually I was not sure if there is one lead character who has one wife and tries to marry another one or if there are identical twins or what the hell happens. I was confused. The cuts basically do not give any clues about temporal relations of individual scenes.
So I have started to untangle the storyline mess only at the end - and the resulting story was not something I would like. Especially the lead character is very ugly in the resulting picture - cold, weak and immoral. His first wife was much more interesting and true character. Maybe it would be better for me if I spent the rest of the movie in false idea that it is just visually beautiful, surreal, experimental movie.
In contrast with Kormákur's film 101 Reykjavik, this movie portrays the city as positive and intelligent. We are introduced to the films main character, Jón, as he is teaching his college class. Reykjavik seems like a pleasant city where Jón can stay occupied, productive and happy. While the country-side, and island, where is wife, Anna, is from is a static, boring place, seemingly reminiscent of his relationship with his wife whom is mentally ill.
The theme of the country vs. city is a common one among Icelandic film. This film seems to give a very negative and depressing portrayal of the countryside. The island can only be reached by boat and contains somewhere around ten houses and a church. There is a small community store, and it appears that viewers are introduced to at least half of the inhabitance of the island, of which ten percent might be crazy. This small island in the middle of nowhere makes Jón so bored, that he is convinced by one of his crazy/quirky friends that it's a good idea to invest, and try and build a golf course to bring tourists to the island. The only reasoning I can think for him to go along with this idea is at least it gave him something to do, just emphasizing how bored he is on this god forbidden island in the middle of nowhere. Once he realizes how ridiculous this idea is he acquires a large debt to the local store owners and in return starts doing their daughter, a former student, which brings me to the next topic of morality.
In one of the scenes Jón is teaching the class about how things can be relatively right or relatively wrong in situations. An example of this might be it is morally OK to kill someone if it was in defense of your own life, but not morally OK if you had no reason to kill that person. He runs into his own moral dilemma when he get's caught cheating on his wife, by his wife, with a former student. Not to mention a girl twenty years younger than him. This is morally wrong on many levels, as he has a sick wife whom can't help her situation. Not only that, he is the only one who can stick with her and help her out, but he is so selfish that he decides to abandon her and the promises he made to her in order to indulge in a younger girl. Because his wife sees she has been abandoned, she abandons life, committing suicide in the open ocean. Maybe some part of Jón thought having sex was relatively morally OK because his wife was nuts and he didn't love her anymore, but that doesn't make you like this dismal protagonist anymore. Whatever his reasoning he begins to feel some regret after she kills herself. In an effort to make killing his wife relatively morally OK, he decides to marry Thora, because only him marrying his "True Love" would make her death a little bit OK, at least in his mind. Jón teaches others about morality, but either needs to listen too his teachings or uses it's relativity to make him feel better about his awful decisions, either way the anti-moral decisions from the film add to the films depressive outlook on life.
Although the story itself is depressing it is very well filmed and edited. The most memorable piece of filmography for me is the beautiful shot of Jón as he is passed out on the table. The helicopter shot shows the beautiful landscape of Iceland and the quaint, BORING town. The town is as isolated as the main character himself capturing the emptiness of his life. A
Overall the movie is well made with good cinematography, but the story itself is very dull and depressing. The film is consistent with other movies from Iceland at the time with the of the countryside vs. city, but gives a more bleak outlook on the conservative way of life. I would not recommend this movie for someone who would like to stay in or be put in a good mood, but if you want to watch an Icelandic film, apart from the story, this is well made with good acting and could be worth your time.
Jón and Thora are to be married but disadvantageous circumstances threaten the wedding and the couple's happiness, due to Jón's past as well as a fiscal dispute between the family of the bride and the family of the bridegroom. Jón faces immense disapproval by the local pastor and his future in-laws, from whom he borrowed large sums of money to fund an entrepreneurial venture that fails miserably leaving him with little hope of paying back his loan. Jón's past involves a mentally ill wife who he was never willing to listen to or help. He agreed to move back to her hometown, but resents her for this and pays little attention to her. Eventually, Jón begins to kindle a relationship with Thora, who coincidentally happens to be from the same small town as Anna, culminating in a sexual affair.
Kormákur's film presents several themes that all seem to lead to one question; What is the meaning of life and happiness? Each of the characters feel a strong sense of longing for something or someone that is unattainable to them in their current situation. For example, Thora's father aspired to be an opera singer but is woefully stuck married to a bitter woman obsessed with the financial bottom line of every situation. Anna longs for the companionship of a faithful partner, while peripheral characters such as the priest and Thora's sister aspire to be accepted and respected despite their quirky and often awkward nature.
Jón runs from his problems with Anna, and the foundation of his new relationship with Thora can be described as shaky at best. Viewers can sympathize with Anna who is trying in every way possible to connect with her husband, including literally throwing herself at him in a playful manner, but he never indulges her in attention. It is harder if not impossible to connect man who is so narcissistic and unwilling to engage in conversation with his wife and pay attention to what is really happening in his life. The over dramatized ceremony at the end of the film and events that follow may lead one to believe that humans are forever stuck in a never-ending cycle of disappointment devoid of quality interpersonal communication.
White Night Wedding features sweeping landscapes of the picturesque island during late summer or early fall. A stark contrast from the few city shots that are presented in the beginning, the setting of the island creates the premise for the city vs. rural life that appears in the film. The story spans only over the course of a day, but the sense of time is elongated by the numerous flashbacks that create the storyline between Jón and Anna, as well as setting the stage for Jón's wedding to Thora. While it was sometimes hard at first to distinguish between the past and the present, the use of flashbacks was particularly effective in conveying the events that lead to the dysfunctional and chaotic wedding that is to come.
The dialogue, while sometimes cringe-worthy, is also witty in nature. Background noises such as chirping birds, rolling waves, and moving vehicles created a natural and realistic environment. This is especially true when paired with the wide landscape shots. The music in the film is mainly soothing, and somewhat experimental, instrumental music. There are also a few folk and jazz influenced pieces that add a lighthearted touch to the film. Close-up shots that allow viewers to get a good impression of the character's reactions to what is happening around them.
The film is often compared to the Russian play Ivanov by Anton Chekhov. With an almost identical plot line, except for a few details as well as change in geographical location, the two bodies of work seem quite similar. White Night Wedding is also comparable to many of Kormákur's other films as it features characters struggling internally with feelings such as guilt, and a loss of purpose in life. According to an Icelandic cinema publication, the film was by far the most popular Icelandic movie screened in 2008, judged by overall viewing numbers in theaters.
White Night Wedding is a successful film in its distinct characterization of certain elements of modern Icelandic film. The sweeping landscapes of the nearly uninhabited island exaggerates the theme of city life vs. rural existence, and we are entertained by the actions of atypical and quirky characters. I recommend this film because of its humorous confrontation of issues regarding happiness, companionship, and the will to live. These are deep issues that take on a dark tone, but are also paired with several comical characters and an outlandish series of unfortunate events in such a way that viewers are able to grapple with these existential questions without the gloom and doom that often accompany such topics.
One of the main themes in this film is time. Director Baltasar Kormakur uses a very unique technique for his portrayal of time. This film is all set in one day, the day before Jon's wedding to Thora, but there are repeated flashbacks to when Jon and Anna first moved to the island. These flashbacks play a significant role in deciphering Jon's anxieties about his second marriage.
Throughout the progression of the film, the viewers learn that Jon and Anna's relationship had reached a level of complacency, so they moved to the island of Flatey in order to start over. However, the change of scenery does not help their relationship and Jon starts to develop feelings for Thora. Either from the guilt from cheating on his wife or the constant reminders of his past marriage, Jon begins to reconsider his marriage to Thora. The flashbacks offer the viewer a glimpse into Jon's mind as audience members begin to empathize and become as apprehensive as Jon about the wedding, which is only a few hours away.
Love and relationships are very obvious themes in this film. There are three separate relationships being portrayed in this film; Jon's marriage to Anna, as represented in the flashbacks, as well as his engagement to Thora, which is happening in the present, Thora's parent's dysfunctional marriage, and the forbidden relationship between Börkur and Matthildur. The film focuses on primarily on Jon's relationships so I will focus on the other two. Thora's parents have such an odd marriage that it is almost comical. Thora's mom is basically a bully who pushes everyone around in order to get her way. On the off chance that she loses an argument, she reverts to acting like a child by either shouting or crying so that the other person will give in. The audience assumes that Thora's father puts up with his deranged wife because he loves her, yet it is later revealed that that was not always the case, and now Thora believes that her father is too much of a coward to break off his marriage after so many years.
The relationship between Börkur and Matthildur is even more strange, mostly because the two of them are the outsiders of the community. Börkur is a greasy man as well as a type of entrepreneur who is helping Jon build a golf course on the island, whereas Matthildur is a superstitious, awkward woman who spends her time and money playing the lottery. On the most part, they are forbidden to be together because Matthildur's mother deems it as such.
Lastly, the themes of dreams and aspirations are constantly portrayed on-screen. Anna just wants to create art and have Jon still love her and find her interesting. Thora wants to be with Jon no matter what anyone else says. Thora's mother wants Jon to pay his debt and leave her daughter alone, whereas Thora's father gave up his dream of being an opera singer to live on an island and run a small hotel with his wife. Unlike the other characters, Jon's ambitions seem to change as the film progresses. First, it seems as if he wants to be with Thora, but then he is haunted by the memories of Anna. Then it seems as if Jon wants out of his engagement in order to go back to his old life, but that is impossible since Anna is dead. It is difficult to say whether Jon finds happiness or not. At the end of the film he goes back to teaching, yet his personal life with Thora seems to mirror the complacency he had with Anna. Will things turn out the same, or will Jon get his 'happily ever after'? The viewer never knows.
The themes of time, love, and dreams are all present in "White Night Wedding". The theme of time is present not only in the two timelines that are being presented simultaneously of Jon's relationships with Anna and Thora, but also in the fact that time is quickly ticking away as the wedding draws ever more near. The theme of love is present not only between the main characters but also between some of the minor characters as well. And finally, the viewers learn of each character's own hopes and aspirations yet they do not know whether or not they are seen to fruition.
The plot revolves around Jon, a 40-some philosophy professor, on the eve of his second wedding. The first scene portrays Jon as apathetic and uninterested in his young bride Thora, as the film progresses his behavior is slowly justified as we learn about the tragic events of his past marriage that haunt him. The film blurs past and present as the scenes alternate between the comedic escapades of the groom's best friend's drunken late-night activities, Jon's conflict with Sisi (Thora's mother), and flashbacks of Jon's struggles with his late wife, Anna.
One of the film's most intriguing aspects stems from the delicate way that Kormakur stretches and obscures the passage of time. The "White Night" of the film's title refers to the day of the year when the dark of night is shortest. This creates a strange visual experience for the viewer: although the primary events of the film occur over the course of night, the constant presence of the hazy Icelandic sun obscures our reference point for the passage of time. Because of the importance of the impending wedding the next day, the viewer feels a heightened sense of discomfort upon this temporal confusion. Additionally, Jon's flashbacks further disrupt our sense of time. The transitions between past and present are subtle, and with significant overlaps in setting and characters, the viewer is not always aware in what time or space the events on the screen are taking place. Overall, this temporal obscurity enhances our understanding of the pervasive emotional turmoil to which Jon, Anna, Thora, Sisi, and many of the other characters are subject.
Obfuscating our sense of time in the film is just one of many ways that Kormakur evokes a strong emotional response from the viewer. There is significant contrast between the emotions of the past and present events portrayed in the film. The humorous exploits of Jon and his friends as they gallivant drunkenly through the town are strongly juxtaposed with vignettes of Jon's past life. We acutely experience Anna's severe depression, the priest's anger and frustration, and Sisi's domineering abuse alongside comedic dreams of a golf course gone awry, the passion of new love, and whimsical mountaintop serenades. Through this juxtaposition, we experience each set of emotions all the more profoundly. The breathtaking setting of the island of Flatey perpetuates these emotions well: a rather garish lighting of the bright island hills somehow fits the essence of both the raw unhappiness of the past and the inescapable imminence of the immediate future. The high contrast between land, sea, and sky captures the high contrast of the character's emotions and our responses to those emotions.
The wide variety of characters in the narrative allows us to experience the full range of human emotions, and is a source of great entertainment and poignancy in the film. Through mere glimpses into the lives of these characters, the audience feels a deep sense of compassion and understanding of each of their walks of life. One of the film's most lovable characters is Lasus, Thora's father. Though dejected by his domineering wife, Lasus find solace in music and entertaining Flatey's visitors. However, Lasus' jovial spirits are bittersweet: he has left behind his dream of becoming an opera singer. A shot of his plump, naked body bobbing alone in the sea as he sings a lonesome folk tune profoundly captures the essence of this emotionally duality. Another highlight of the island's residences is Malla, Thora's delightfully contrary sister. Though Malla is a social misfit and is constantly chastised by Sisi, she too finds a form of love and learns to have the gumption to triumph over Sisi's bullying. This ramshackle bunch of eccentric characters allows us to experience the entire spectrum of human emotion that is so critical in the film. Their wants, desires, and dreams fulfilled and unfulfilled tell a tale of life's many journeys, good and bad. Like the sun's perpetual trek across the sky, we are at times unable to change the course of events that befall us. Love and life is at times lost. However, life is not lived with the arrival or disappearance of night and day, but rather in the spaces in between: in the white night, in the perpetual and unavoidable journey that life itself entails. Overall, White Night Wedding offers a painfully honest tale that wonderfully captures the countless complexities of the human journey.
Love abounds in the film, in all of its varying stages. Indeed, as the movie progresses, we see it take the shape of puppy love between soon-to-be newlyweds, guilt-ridden love between an aging couple, and despairing, persistent love between Anna and Jon. Rather than confine White Night Wedding to a single, stereotypical romance, Kormákur depicts human emotions as they truly are: wild and changing as the sea surrounding the island of Flatey. All emotional extremes are mapped throughout the plot of this movie. The audience is captivated and saddened by Anna's desperate, and increasingly manic attempts to cling to her distant husband, while at the same time allured by Thora's flirtatious behavior and equally shocked by the dramatic discovery of their affair. We are simultaneously immersed in the marriage of Thora's parents, Larus and Sisi, who each are so wounded and blinded that they cannot comfort or support each other. Sisi is brutally absorbed in money, so much that her loyal husband Larus is left uncomforted to nurse his own unfulfilled dreams of becoming a famous opera singer. Throw in an uptight hairless priest, an overweight jovial best man, Thora's introverted, irritable sister, and a scrappy delusional golf-course owner, and the plot has expanded to encompass a motley group of characters all in the never-ending search of love and happiness.
Despair also plays a key role in the movie, as a stark contrast to the jovial celebration in preparation for the wedding. Frequent flashbacks to Jon's previous marriage with an unstable, and desperate wife blur the lines between present and past. Anna's depression and metal problems are constantly on the edge of the plot, and are depicted in the form of pill bottles and hysteria without a clear diagnosis. The pity we may feel for Jon coming home to a dead swan in the garbage and seaweed placed throughout the house is equally tempered by the sympathy we feel for Anna, who is abandoned and cheated on by her silent husband. It causes the audience to wonder where Anna's mental instability has come from. Is it possible Jon's neglect is the cause of her lunacy? We see a common theme of unrequited love surface. The more fervently Anna yearns for her husband to be present, physically and emotionally, the more he shuns her. As a final blow, after a failed attempt to seduce him to "roll in the grass naked" with her, she catches him doing exactly that with young, fierce Thora who is determined to marry Jon from the day she set eyes on him. Anna is driven to the depths of despair, and an ultimately tragic ending. The audience is left to wonder, will the same fate will someday befall Thora?
Finally, the eccentricities of the characters are especially prominent. Much like a dysfunctional family, the inhabitants of Flatey all share a wild white night before the wedding - which may be an allusion to the odd behavior of the characters in Shakespeare's Midsummer Night's Dream. While Anna is the only person who is clinically labeled as mentally unstable, all of the characters exhibit strange behavior at some point throughout the night. From Sjonni's drunken revelry to Larus's nude opera in the sea, the audience finds themselves personally intertwined in the odd lives of Flatey's inhabitants. Through exquisite filming technique that balances between wide sweeps of scenery and intimate close-ups, many of the scenes in the film attain a dream-like quality which leaves the audience unsure of reality. In this way, while depicting and creating flawed, and brutally realistic characters, Kormákur uses filming techniques to create varying tones of surreal passion, grief, and chaos. The traditional Icelandic folk music perfectly complements the landscape to portray Icelandic culture and set this film apart from the stereotypical romantic comedy. Indeed, the passionate nudity, harsh suicide, and extreme quirkiness of the film all are qualities often absent in Hollywood but is a hallmark of starkly realistic Nordic cinema.
7.1 / 10 stars
--Zoooma, a Kat Pirate Screener
This is all on an island in northern Iceland. It is a small island where everyone knows everyone else's dirty laundry, yet somehow fools still believe that they can hide their lives. There are the tourists from all over, who come to this island where there is basically nothing. Still, to scare up tourism, the locals foolishly believe that they can advertise the place as a tourist mecca. The groom and his childhood friend dream of the money that they will make when they build their golf course (basically, teeing off from the a rock out in the water).
The movie is sad. The professor groom really hurt his wife, driving her to suicide by bringing his bride to be to the island for a wedding. In his perverse guilt, the groom believes that somehow he will bring peace over his adultery and abandonment of his wife. While not as good as The Sea, this is still a delightful movie that is filled with good witticism.
The premise of the film revolves around the main character Jon Johnson and his relationship to his wife Anna. Both, living together in Reykjavik, are dismally set in a routine of perceptual avoidance of one another – Jon refusing to take phone calls from Anna while teaching and Anna experiencing a worsening of her mental condition. In order to both remedy their marriage and better themselves they decide to move to a small island off Iceland from which Anna was originally from. This is where things began to get a little dicey both morally and technically. Jon having uprooted from his teaching position finds himself at odds with Anna and portrays a feeling of being trapped by Anna's condition and her perpetual wants and needs of him while he portrays that he gets nothing in return. With no work to divide his time from Anna, Jon invests in a nine hole golf course; the point up till now reflecting how relationships can become strained by the needs and desires of both parties especially when the initial honeymoon stage is over. Jon then begins to court and later has a affair with his former student Thora – Anna witnesses the affair and presumable kills herself – leaving Jon to marry Thora and start the cycle over once again.
The plot though somewhat unique is an old story in divorce and cheating scenarios in which one member of the marriage (Jon) feels that he is sacrificing his life and work for Anna and her condition, while Anna feels that Jon has become increasingly distant and no longer loves her. This clash is culminated after Anna witnesses Jon having intercourse with Thora, Anna dumps her medication and proceeds to drag seaweed into the house and demands that Jon makes love to her; Jon, presumably more shocked by her actions and behavior declines and thus Anna appears to sail out to see to end her suffering. Though much quicker than a divorce, the act leaves Jon in the arms of Thora who vows that she will help him recover himself if it's the last thing she does, however, in the end the two – married – appear to be in the same place as Anna and Jon were at the beginning of the film. The implication of love and happiness being that it is found only in the chase and never lasts beyond that time.
The question of marriage as an institution of benefit is only half the question presented within this film, the broader question and concern questioning whether happiness and love can even be found in life in a permanent means. Whether looking at Thora's parents and their lost dreams – her father wanting to be a famous opera singer – or Anna and Jon's relationship marriage as an institution seems to be a compromise which leaves both parties disappointed with one another and at odds than promising any form of happiness or love. This is one of the most dismal aspects of the film, yet even worse is the notion that love and happiness in anyone's life is ultimately fleeting. The film ends with the professor explaining this philosophical notion to his class, yet it is up to debate whether he has learned his own lesson. The question of which brings us to the final thought on this film, is someone morally obligated to leave a relationship which they are unhappy within? With the perception from the film being that happiness and love are fleeting fancies of pursuit rather than obtainable goals it would appear that the answer to this question is no. However, the film in Thora's persistence that she would recapture Jon's life if it was the last thing she did and Thora's father's perpetual longing to be an opera singer the question remains. To better the life of another and to better one owns life seem to be the two sides of this coin. Whether for better or for worse we as a species and as portrayed in this film seemed destined to fall in love and be happy in the process, yet this love and happiness is ultimately our curse as they are fleeting with time.
The setting of the movie takes place in beautiful Iceland which was settled by the Norwegians in the 9th century. It's a really interesting place for a setting because it always seems like its day time due to the plentiful amount of sunlight. This movie was filmed during the summer solstice where Iceland experiences 24 hours of sunlight or just every morning to get this affect. With that being said we get to experience both the city and country life in this movie.
Kormákur takes an interesting approach simultaneously showing you the past/present throughout the movie as you get to know the goods about each character. For example we get glimpses of Jon teaching and walking the streets of Reykjavik which occurred earlier in time line. As we're taken back and forth we get to witness first hand the struggles Jon had with his traumatic marriage and how he struggles in the present days before his second marriage. Jon is a man full of problems because you soon find out that he is debt with the mother of his future wife and we get to see how the escalated situation got to this point. I've always enjoyed this approach because in my opinion it has helped me better understand the movie. These "flashbacks" serve as a reminder to me and help me follow the movie. Just like in the epic Fight Club, the past/present film technique really helps you understand the struggle Jon is having with himself and not his wives.
I think its way to easy to label Jon as a bad a husband or a bad man but honestly I saw his actions as a warning. It's not like he tried to get his ex student to fall for him but with that being said he doesn't prevent it and that causes the whole mess. Jon is just a writer looking for inspiration and cant handle being both a husband and a writer; I think this movie is a perfect example of a man torn between his two loves; work and pleasure.
Oh the golf course and how significant it is, in my opinion it is a huge factor that lead to the domino effect. It all starts with the move away from the city and when Jon feels he needs something to do up pops up the GOLF COURSE IDEA. This leads to the debt, enhances his marital problems, and possibly a second wife ..
In conclusion White Night Wedding has imperfect characters in an imperfect world that everyone can relate too. With that being said I think Jon is just a guy who knows what his worth as a partner is and doesn't want to hurt anyone. He understands that he is not suitable for the life as a husband but more of a bachelor. In my eyes this movie was the story of George Clooney getting hustled into a marriage and what becomes of it. The fun is in the chase or being chased after.
Nature evokes a great deal of emotion in this film and the symbolisms that accompany it are difficult to ignore. The first encounter the audience has with the drama surrounding nature is when Anna, Jon's first wife, strikes a swan with her car. We are met with the vivid image of crimson blood on white feathers. Shortly thereafter, the couple moves back to Anna's home town which is a small but charming island. Here, Anna's deep connection with nature comes alive. Though it is clear she is mentally unstable there is something charming about her devotion for nature. She tends to the sea like her garden when she creates a web of seaweed. In addition to Anna's devotion to nature, Kormakur frequently uses aerial shots of the island. Through these shots the audience is able to view the exquisite serenity of the Icelandic land.
Other themes emerge throughout the film, such as the theme of infectious mental illness. We can see Anna's mental illness and how it leaches into the lives of others. Anna forces Jon to leave his position of professor because she longs to be home. After moving back to her home island she loses trust in Jon, and any love left in their marriage slowly fades. After Anna encounters Jon during a sexual affair with a previous student, Þóra, her depression worsens and she is driven to suicide. Jon, wears the weight of her suicide around like a heavy cloak. Though, his affair did not help his wife's depression, he blames himself fully for her death and repeatedly says that he killed her. This notion that he was responsible for sucking the life from Anna, is the barrier that stand between him and his love for Þóra. This debt that he feels to his deceased wife is not relieved until he flings himself into the sea where she committed suicide. Jon's debt does not end there however.
Jon is also a debtor in the monetary sense. When Jon returns to the Iceland for his second marriage to Þóra he is sought out by his friends and family who hound him for money. We encounter his soon to be mother in law, shortly after arriving to the island. Immediately upon meeting her we can see that she is not pleased with his past actions. In fact he owes her a great deal of money for a golf course plan run amok. His mother doesn't trust his intentions with her daughter and is so hung up on his debt she can't see the devotion between Þóra and Jon. Nevertheless, this is not his only debt owed on the island. The morning of his wedding, Jon is awoken by breaking glass as golf balls are flung through his window. Börkur, an angry friend of Jon's is also here to collect a debt owed to him. From every angle, Jon is bombarded by his debts and his sins which again do not appear to be reconciled until his plunge in the ocean.
Quite possibly my favorite theme in the movie, is that of music. Music seems to permeate all areas of this film. The first experience we have with music being performed in the film is through the musical talent of Anna. Anna requests that a piano be sent to her island home. Later it is during times of turmoil that we see her passionately playing. Other characters are deeply involved in music also. Lárus, the soon to be father in law of Jon sings beautiful opera throughout the film. My favorite scene is most definitely his early morning dip where he awakens the inhabitants of the island with is booming operatic voice.
There is also a great deal of parallel between the "old" life of Jon with his deceased wife and his new life with Þóra. About half of the movie is made up of flashbacks, these flash backs are presumably the memories of Jon. At times it is difficult to differentiate between the present and the past. This is done to portray the stark difference between Anna and Þóra and the difference between past unhappiness and current happiness. This is enforced by the dreary and dark weather of past scenes compared with the bright scenes of the present. At the same time this is in contrast with the static portrayal of the island and its people. The audience can see that life for Jon changes dramatically while the small sleepy town remains consistent and folksy. This theme of rural life is a common theme in many Icelandic films.
In conclusion Kormakur puts on a great show. Though this film is not similar to his past success, 101 Reykjavik, it holds its own position in his collection of films. The message of a search for happiness is theme that most can relate with. Along with this the audience enjoys the gorgeous nature in the film and beautiful music. All elements in combination make a quite striking film.