ICELANDERS IN THE MOVIES - The Reykjavik Grapevine

ICELANDERS IN THE MOVIES

ICELANDERS IN THE MOVIES

Published July 11, 2001

Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974)

Gunnar Hansen, Leatherface himself, was born in Reykjavík in 1956 and moved to the US at the age of 5. Also mans the chainsaw in Hollywood Chainsaw Hookers, as the high priest of a cult which traces the worship of the chainsaw back to the ancient Egyptians, with appropriate human sacrifices. Has been in other films, such as The Demon Lover and cowrote and starred in 1995 horror film Mosquito, but Chainsaw Massacre remains undoubted highlight of acting career.

More American Graffiti (1979)

Anna Bjorns has a part in the flop sequel to Lucas´ 1973 hit. Also billed as Elizabeth: Cromwells Whore in The Sword and the Sorcerer from 1982. Highlight of career probably Get Crazy, wherein Malcolm McDowell plays Reggie Wanker, a decadent rock star who converses with his own penis. Surprisingly, it failed to break the box office. Last seen in episodes of Remington Steele and Different Strokes.

The Carny (1980)

Jóhann Pétursson, known as Jóhann Risi (the Giant), was the tallest man in Icelandic history, and, at the time, in the world, measuring some 2,34 cm. He was born in 1913, and, as he had a hard time finding employment here, left at the age of 22 to become a circus attraction. He starred in the Danish film Hjertetyven in 1943 when he was stuck in Denmark during the occupation. After the war he went to Hollywood, where he played Guadi the Giant in Prehistoric Women (1950). His last role was as himself in 1980´s The Carny, wherein Gary Busey and Robbie Robertson play a couple of carnival hustlers both in love with Jodie Foster. There is currently a museum dedicated to Jóhann Risi in his hometown of Dalvík.

Free Willy (1993)

Four cute, well dressed, demographically diverse kids who also happen to be homeless, beg and vandalize on the streets, until authorities intervene and put the cutest of them to work feeding killer whales. There he falls into the pool, and Willy the killer whale, rather than eating him as killer whales are wont to do, bonds with his lunch, seeing in him a fellow orphan, and performs tricks for him when no one is looking. When evil business men attempt to kill the whale for insurance money, the lad helps him to escape. This prompted authorities in the United States to demand that the actor playing the part of the whale, Keiko, the worlds second most famous IcelanderTM, also be set free. The US Air force fished him out of his tank in Seaworld, and got him back to the Westman Islands, from where he was eventually released back into nature. Was last seen off the coast of Norway, begging fish from passing fishermen, apparently unable to fish for himself.

D2: The Mighty Ducks (1994)

After the United States triumphed in the Cold War, thanks largely to Rocky Balboa´s turn in the ring, the Americans went looking for another worthy adversary and found, well, Iceland. Nazi looking types with names like Wolf and Stahl represent Iceland’s finest (quite apart from the fact that Iceland does not have a hockey team to speak of, nor anyone named either Wolf or Stahl). America seems to have problems keeping its players on the field due to their violent behaviour, and Emilio Estevez is too busy eating ice cream with Icelandic chicks to coach, but nonetheless, they eventually triumph by deciding not to stoop to the Icelanders level. Maria Ellingsen, veteran of Santa Barbara and local films such as Agnes, Foxtrot and A Man like Me, plays love interest/supporter of evil Icelandic children’s hockey team. The Icelanders, for some reason, alternate between speaking Icelandic and English with one another. Includes the classic line “Áfram, áfram, destroy!”. Also includes a rather profound analogy, saying that America is a teenager among nations, awkward and yet on the verge of greatness. On the verge of greatness perhaps, but still seemingly unable to graduate, go to college and stop picking on the smaller children.

The Viking Sagas (1995)

Michael Chapman, cinematographer and director of Clan of the Cave Bear directssomeone named Ralph Möller in this B-movie mish-mash of various Viking tales, shot in Iceland, opposite former Eurovision contender and star of cult hit Veggfóður, Ingibjörg Stefánsdóttir. Ralph Möller went on to star in Conan: The Adventurer TV series and play Thorak in The Scorpion King. Ingibjörg currently serves vegan food at Grænn Kostur.

The Suburbans (1999)

Sometime local pop star Rich Scobie has a bit part, enabling Jennifer Love Hewitt, to show off her omnipotence and address him in Icelandic.

Dancer in the Dark (2000)

And Björk, of Course. The World’s Most Famous IcelanderTM puts in a tear wrenching performance as an almost blind Eastern European single mother who comes to America hoping to find a cure for her sons approaching blindness, and winds up working in a factory, breaking out into song on occasion. Nominated for an Oscar for best song, showed up at said awards dressed in a swan, failed to win. Had a falling out with Danish director Lars Von Trier, blaming him for 600 years of oppression, and vowed never to act again.

K-19: The Widowmaker (2002)

A surprisingly good film about a Cold War Russian submarine that breaks down in the Atlantic, despite Harrison Ford standing out like a sore thumb as the only cast member attempting a Russian accent. A nuclear meltdown is imminent, which might bring about World War III and the annihilation of the planet. Ford and Liam Neeson bicker, while one of Iceland’s most popular actors, Ingvar Sigurðsson, heroically sacrifices himself and saves said planet.

Monster (2003)

The titular monster is an alcoholic insomniac in the throes of an existential crisis, living in Iceland. Seems like he’d fit right in. He’s tired of terrorizing mankind, and want to end it, but is, as it turns out, indestructible. He gets a pretty young girl, whose boyfriend he has previously eaten, to find a mad scientist who can kill him. The mad scientist turns out to be Baltasar Kormákur, director of 101 Reykjavík and star of Devils Island. In supporting roles are almost every local actor that can still find his way to location. This beauty and the beast tale soon turns into a brilliant satire on the modern world, wherein the world is portrayed is it would be if the media were painting an accurate picture, where every trip to the airport inevitable involves encounters with nuclear weapons smugglers and international terrorists (JFK Airport is, interestingly, played by Keflavík´s Leifstöð Airport). Finally, Mad Scientist convinces Monster that there is no need for him anymore, since we have the media to scare us these days. Brilliant.

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