Friday, June 24, 2011

Dreamland (2010)

Dreamland / Draumalandið (2010)
Dreamland / Draumalandið (2010)

Genre: Documentary
Director: Þorfinnur Guðnason, Andri Snær Magnasson
Duration: 89 min.
Rating: 6.0

A nation standing at cross-roads.  Leading up to the country’s greatest economic crisis, the government started the largest mega project in the history of Iceland, to build the biggest dam in Europe to provide Alcoa cheap electricity for an aluminum smelter in the rugged east fjords of Iceland.  Today Iceland is left holding a huge debt and an uncertain future.

Dreamland is an Icelandic documentary directed by Þorfinnur Guðnason and Andri Snær Magnasson.  It is based on a book titled Dreamland: A Self-Help Manual for a Frightened Nation by Andri Snær Magnasson.

Tracing Iceland's economic history from its independence from Denmark in 1918 to the eve of its current economic crisis, Dreamland attempts to bring to light the environmental impact and cost of exploiting its surplus of natural energy resources.  After the US decided to close their forward military base in Iceland, the government was desperate to find a way to replace the lost jobs and stimulate the economy.  So they invited multinational aluminum giant Alcoa into the country with promises of cheap energy.

That's a strong premise for an important, insightful, and fascinating documentary, unfortunately it fails to deliver.  The directors seem more interested in scare tactics than fact, using interviews from 'experts' who spout doom and gloom (one of which is the co-director and author himself), showing unrelated footage of Union Carbide's 1984 disaster in India, and the heavy handed attempts at pulling heartstrings by showing various farming families and random flocks of animals who are displaced by the building of the mega hydroelectric dam (including a Herzog-esque scene of a mother goose and a drowning nest of eggs) just feel manipulative and don't have the impact they should.

However, this is still worth watching if only for the stunning aerial footage of Iceland's breathtaking glacial landscapes, volcanos, and waterfalls; and a beautifully composed soundtrack by Valgeir Sigurðsson that really suits the mood of the film.

Dreamland / Draumalandið (2010)

Dreamland / Draumalandið (2010)

Dreamland / Draumalandið (2010)

Dreamland / Draumalandið (2010)

Dreamland / Draumalandið (2010)

Dreamland / Draumalandið (2010)

Dreamland / Draumalandið (2010)

Dreamland / Draumalandið (2010)


Bonjour Tristesse said...

I haven't been either, but that song should be Iceland's national anthem.

Bonjour Tristesse said...

Its amazing the amount of artistic output they have with a population of only 320,000

Bonjour Tristesse said...

Yeah but nowhere near as gruesome as The Cove.

d_4 said...

This one will only depress me. It's good to get it out there, but if it's also just scare tactics? Eh.

The Angry Lurker said...

Iceland still has these problems.

Beasts in Human Skin said...

Another film from Iceland!  Those guys and gals sure do like their cinema.

FrontRoomCinema said...

Think I might pass on this one!! Although I do love Iceland, not that I have been there just seems a cool place to go. I do love me a Viking!!

The mention of Iceland makes me think of Led Zeppelin for some reason..

We come from the land of the ice and snow,
From the midnight sun where the hot springs flow.
The hammer of the gods will drive our ships to new lands,
To fight the horde, singing and crying: Valhalla, I am coming!

From Immigrant Song, and referencing Iceland as far as I was told by a icelander!!

Sorry for the waffle, its FRIDAY!!


Hoi-Ming Ng said...

Mmm, manipulative documentaries? Reminds me of The Cove.

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