From Iceland — Another Side Of The God Of Thunder

Another Side Of The God Of Thunder

Published August 13, 2012

Another Side Of The God Of Thunder
The Norse gods have certainly made their mark on popular culture. Just
look at last year’s ‘Thor’ or this year’s ‘Avengers,’ where it takes a
whole gang of superheroes to defeat one old god (ok, Hulk eventually
does it with one hand, but still). The American version of ‘Thor’ is
predictably black
and white, dividing everyone up into gods, good or bad. Stressing the
subtle shades of grey that make the mythology so fascinating is the
Danish comic book series ‘Valhalla,’ which was also made into a cartoon.

Both draw on the same source material (the latter more faithfully), the
stories and poems written down by Snorri Sturluson and scribes unnamed
right here in Iceland. Even Neil Gaiman wrote a book on the subject,
although he decided to call it ‘American Gods.’ It seems everyone has
been pilfering our mythology except ourselves. This is beginning to
change, though. In 2010, writer Gerður Kristný won the Icelandic
literature award for her book ‘Blóðhófnir,’ about Frey’s “supposed” rape
of Jötun maiden Gerður, and last year brought us Óskar Jónasson’s
‘Legends of Valhalla: Thor,’ a cartoon about the exploits of a young God
of Thunder.
This version is glaringly different than  the Marvel version. Thor no
longer looks as if he stepped out of a Nazi poster, instead regaining
his red hair. Loki, sidekick in the Danish version and nemesis in the
American one, is entirely missing. Instead, the enemy here is Hel, the
Goddess of Death. Ironically, Hel looks rather like an American Cruella
de Vil dressed up like Cate Blanchett in ‘Elizabeth,’ riding a dog that
looks like it stepped out of ‘Ice Age.’
Nevertheless, there is fun to be had, and references to the old
literature abound. We get Thor’s dance with old age and Þrymur’s
pilfering of the hammer, although the thunder god’s transvestite scene
is sadly missing. Then again, it might be more fun to see the Marvel
Thor in a dress. Most amusingly, we get a mix of mythologies, with a
leprechaun trying to cross the famous rainbow bridge looking for his pot
of gold.
‘Legends of Valhalla’ is on at six every weekday this summer at Bíó
Paradís. It’s part of the Cool Cuts festival, which showcases classic
Icelandic films with English subtitles. But there’s more. Starting with
the reggae festival in mid-June, every Thursday will showcase a local
band. Coming up soon are Sudden Weather Change, who will also debut
their documentary.
Meanwhile, there is the new Jack Black comedy ‘Bernie,’ shown three
times daily. French films are a staple in any arthouse cinema, but it
has to be said that the two on offer here, ‘Summer Hours’ and ‘Goodbye
First Love,’ plod along rather slowly, even by such standards. Far more
exciting is the local crime thriller ‘Black’s Game,’ also with English
subtitles. See it while you can.
Legends Of Valhalla: Thor is on at 18:00 every weekday this summer at
Bíó Paradís.
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