Writer/Director: Anders Elsrud Hultgreen
Cast: Torstein Bjørklund, Ingar Helge Gimle
70min Norway Sci-fi Fantasy
Norwegian auteur Anders Elsrud Hultgreen found his way into filmmaking from a Fine Arts degree from Bergen University and brings this craftmanship to his feature debut DAWN, which he has directed, written and produced on a shoestring budget of £5000.
Set in an imagined future, DAWN is primarily a Sci-fi mood piece that developed from an intended short. With a two-handed cast, Hultgreen conjures up a strong sense of place in the rugged and desolate moonscape of Southern Iceland, where it was filmed and later selected for Reykjavik Film Festival and Bergen International Film Festival. The tale follows two survivors wandering vaguely in this hostile terrain, where a threadbare narrative focuses on their search for water, driven forward by a sinister and brooding tone that pervades the early scenes of ‘first light’ gradually becoming more doom-laden as the film draws to a slightly unsatisfactory finale in the full glare of high noon.
Nicolas Winding Refn’ Valhalla Rising comes to vaguely to mind as the younger of the two men, Rehab (Torstein Bjørklund) – and this is very much a tale of age versus youth – is pursued by an older man, Set (Ingar Helge Gimle), across the barren scenery. Bound by a daily ritual of drawing a circle in the sand and setting himself a frame between three silvery stones for prayer and protection, Rehab is completely shrouded from head to foot. In a nod to silent film, Bjørklund relies on the expressiveness in his eyes as the only indicator of his state of mind which ranges from fear to delirium. This is a slow-paced affair that occasionally drags, stretching the limits of its dramatic tension to near-breaking point, with no release from a pounding ambient score as the two search for aquatic Nirvana in the barren wilderness.
Landscape has always been a crucial feature of Norwegian films, and nowhere more so than in DAWN. Shot on the widescreen, Hultgreen has taken a wilderness and turned it into somewhere quite magical and alien with the help of titled angles, purple tinting, and inventive framing which has a pleasing sense of rhythm. For speakers of other languages, Norwegian has an ancient ring to it and these elements coalesce to create a sense of ‘otherworldliness’. The inclusion of a wrecked aircraft is the only thing that brings the piece into the context of the 20th century, slightly puncturing the mystical reverie. Clearly, Hultgreen has done his research and created an inventive piece of genuine Sci-fi with an impressively low budget, marking him out to be a talent in the making. MT
DAWN SCREENED DURING SCI-FI WEEKEND AT THE BFI 29 MAY – 5 JUNE 2015