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Heart of Lightness (2014)

Eight British actors and a narcoleptic director travel to the Norwegian Arctic Circle to film Henrik Ibsen's play. Thinking it will be an easy task, they are soon overwhelmed by the surreal surroundings and the never ending daylight.


Jan Vardoen




Credited cast:
James Bachman ... Max Buchanan
Michael Colgan Michael Colgan ... Arnholm
Rosie Day ... Hilde
Laura Donnelly ... Ellida
Jannicke Stendal Hansen Jannicke Stendal Hansen ... First AD
Daisy Head ... Bolette
Sam Heughan ... Lyngstrand
John Hodgkinson John Hodgkinson ... Jason Malvern
Richard Lumsden ... Ballested
Dominic Mafham ... The Doctor (Wangel)
Matt Ryan ... Stranger
Anja Maria Svenkerud ... Guest role
Jan Vardoen ... Director


8 British actors and a narcoleptic director travel to the Norwegian Arctic Circle to film Henrik Ibsen's play 'The Lady From The Sea'.Thinking it will be an easy task, they are soon overwhelmed by the surreal surroundings and the never ending daylight. This magnifies the internal tensions in the cast and influences their personal lives and the film itself. We follow them through their strife, joy and adventures to the culmination of what turns out to be a great film and a success for everyone involved. Written by Anonymous

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis




Did You Know?


Laura Donnelly (Ellida), Rosie Day (Hilde), and Sam Heughan (Lyngstrand) all appear in the TV series Outlander. Heughan and Ellida actually play siblings, Jamie and Jenny. See more »

User Reviews

Original meta film version of Ibsen-play The Lady from the Sea
1 July 2014 | by OJTSee all my reviews

London-born Norwegian multi-doer Jan Vardøen has with his debut in film made a strange and uneven, but still extraordinary and remarkable meta film story which is both nonsense as well as a lovely played version of the classic 1888 Henrik Ibsen-play "The Lady from the Sea".

Vardøen is known as a musician, writer and restaurant owner, as well as a TV show host, and has financed this film by himself, and not the way the claim to have done it in this meta story.

A narcoleptic unexperienced director has got a funding for a film, but hasn't got a clue, and have started using the money when he realizes that he rally have to make a film if he isn't to pay back the money. While attending the last show of a Ibsen-play in a theater in London, having a hangover and sleeping through the whole show, he gets an idea of taking the whole ensemble to play the same play in his film against beautiful scenery in Lofotoen in the North of Norway.

The serious play is brilliantly played by the British cast, and the meta scenes where the actors are being themselves out of the filming of the classic story is paralleled all through the film in such a manner you have to concentrate to understand in which reality you are along the way. The funny bits are the meta story, and the serious parts are the result on film - the Ibsen story. The film will be differently viewed by those knowing their Ibsen and those ignorant to the famous classic play writer. The director and producer of this film, Vardøen, is also playing the narcoleptic director and producer in the film, though not as himself.

It's actually a brilliant idea, and the film has some seriously funny parts, and then some brilliantly acted serious scenes in awesome landscapes, but I think this could have been so much better still. On the minus side is both amateurish camera movement and sound in the start of the film, which gets better along the way. There's also other minor things to put the finger on, though I'd like the film to be more tightly narrated. Vardøen himself, I'm afraid to say, is the only actor not able to do top notch work. His amateurism shines through. Such a pity, for the rest of the crew is great.

After a interesting start, the film struggles to work on the premises in the second part of first half, but when the real play really starts running, the actors manage to go through the screen in a way that saves the film up to a decent standard.

A couple of scenes are absolutely hilarious to such a grade that the film should also be labeled as a comedy, though I rarely seen a film which is so divided into two so different genres as heavy drama and comedy back and forth.

An interesting way of telling one of Ibsen's classics in a new setting, showing that this film will probably not be the only film the multi talented Jan Vardøen will be engaged in.

The film is spoken in both English and Norwegian with subtitles back and forth also making the film different. Not a master piece by no means, but still an interesting take on a film meta story.

An interesting film made by a film lover, but not a professional film maker, and this is nothing to be embarrassed about. Fresh.

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Official Sites:

Official site




English | Norwegian

Release Date:

30 May 2014 (Norway) See more »

Also Known As:

Heart of Lightness See more »

Filming Locations:

Lofoten, Arctic Circle, Norway See more »


Box Office


NOK7,500,000 (estimated)

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Beacon Isle Films See more »
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Technical Specs




Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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