Keswick Film Club - Reviews - Woman at War

Reviews - Woman at War

Woman at War

Reviewed By Pam Newns

Woman at War
Woman at War
What a treat to see a film about saving the environment that is actually fun to watch! 'Woman at War' comes from Iceland, and director Benedikt Erlingsson stated that his aim was to make a feel-good film about the most serious issue of our times.

His powerful woman lead, Halla, is a choir teacher focussed on fighting the local aluminium industry - a solo eco-warrior who goes around shooting down powerlines and blowing up electricity pylons within a ruggedly beautiful landscape. There are many quirky characters (a cycling tourist who keeps being wrongly imprisoned, a supportive 'alleged cousin' sheep farmer) and funny moments, plus a marvellous soundtrack with live musicians gracing many of the scenes. It all makes for a highly original film, which was well received by the large audience.

Halla, aka 'The Mountain Woman' is on a mission - but she is forced to juggle her environmental crusade with the equally important task of adopting a daughter, Nika, a Ukranian war orphan. Halldora Geirhardsdottir, as Halla, is as equally effective playing a fierce environmental activist as a sensitive adoptive mother; she also plays her own sister, Asa. Indeed the film highlights such dual female roles - Halla as a fit, 'can do' woman, in contrast to Asa, a yoga teacher, who prefers self-reflection to direct action. Or are they both different sides of the same person?

Halla strides through the landscape, an indomitable spirit overcoming numerous obstacles and getting covered in mud and sheep's entrails, wet through and frozen. She is eventually hunted down, but an identity swap enables her to bring her longed-for daughter home though, even in this, she is hampered by environmental disaster. As she carries Nika through rising floodwater the musical trio who accompany her everywhere and take part in the action hold their instruments aloft. A chorus in Ukranian national dress sings folksongs and laments throughout.

What an unforgettable heroine, and an inspiring film.

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Keswick Film Club won the Best New Film Society at the British Federation Of Film Societies awards in 2000.

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