April 23, 2021
HUSAVIK, Iceland – This is a small folktale with otherworldly elements, such as elves. And glittering gold statuettes. It’s also about some nice things that happened to a small town in Iceland, which unlikely found itself the setting for a major Hollywood movie – and now the namesake for an Oscar nomination for Best Original Song.
The 2020 Netflix comedy “Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga” is hardly a high-level art. A review of critics’ reviews on the Rotten Tomatoes website gave it a re-rating of 63%. Robbie Collin in the Telegraph newspaper said: “Not a film as much as two hours of audiovisual paste without lumps, vaguely similar to a film”. It is not “Nomadland”.
But if the film is silly, it’s also sweet, and audiences have gorged on it, sitting on their own layers in the midst of a pandemic.
The film follows the arc of musicians Lars Erickssong and Sigrit Ericksdottir (brothers “probably not”, they re-read their surnames), played by Will Farrell and Rachel McAdams, who hail from the real but fictional fishing village of Husavik (2,300 inhabitants) on the North coast of Iceland (341,243 inhabitants).
After a ship explodes carrying Iceland’s most famous singers, Lars and Sigrit are chosen to represent their country at Eurovision, the kitsch sequined Olympics, and the over-the-top musical extravaganza that is the most watched non-sporting event. in the world, although mostly ignored by the Americans.
The film’s tear-jerking finale features McAdams’ lip-syncing to the Oscar-nominated song “Husavik (My Hometown)”, sung great by Swedish artist Molly Sandén, with lyrics like:
“Where the mountains sing amid the screams of the seagulls /
Where whales can live because they are kind people /
In my hometown, my hometown … “
A pre-show Sunday at the Oscars will include a recording of Sandén singing “Husavik” in the real Husavik. And the citizens have high hopes for a victory. They produced – and starred in – fake promotional videos about their hometown and “what may be the most important night in Husavik’s history”.
“Obviously everyone makes fun of us. But we make fun of ourselves, so it’s okay, “Orlygur Orlygsson, who owns a hotel and runs Husavik’s Exploration Museum, told the Washington Post.” We loved the movie and loved the song. “
What is the real city like? “It’s tiny,” Orlygsson said. “Everyone knows everyone.” He said this positively, but added that the city has long, cold, dark winters and was closed due to the coronavirus and there were no visitors. “I think people were feeling down,” he said.
There are a couple of drinking establishments and a few small hotels in Husavik, and some of the movie stars have visited the mountainside hot springs overlooking the sea. “We usually wear swimwear,” he said.
The city once made a living from fishing, but now relies on tourism and whale watching. It was visited in the 1960s by Apollo astronauts, who trained for their mission there. Why? “NASA was looking for a place that looked like the moon and they chose us,” Orlygsson said.
Steingrimur Hallgrimsson, 73, a retired truck driver, grew up in Husavik. “I’ve never wanted to live anywhere else,” he said. “This is the navel of the world for me.” He said he hasn’t seen the movie yet, but he loves the song, which includes some Icelandic lyrics.
Sigurdur Illugason is a longtime actor in the city’s theater company and starred in a scene from the film, which was cut. But in the promotional videos he plays Oskar Oskarsson, “Husavik’s only Oskar at the moment.”
“I tried to live in Reykjavik for two years,” he told the Washington Post, “but I was just homesick and went home.”
“I’m a country mouse,” he said.
Kristny Geirsdottir, 20, who works in a hotel and theater, said living in Husavik is “like a bubble, so it’s a bit strange to go to other places”. She marveled: “Imagine that somewhere in Japan or Poland or somewhere in the world someone is watching this movie and now they know what Husavik is – it’s a lot of fun.”
Solveig Kristjansdottir is a priest in the city. “This song is a blessing,” he said. “Something that made us proud, even though, to be honest, we didn’t really do anything.”
All the children in the city can sing the song, in Icelandic and English. “We are aware of humor,” he said.
Strangers think it’s funny that people in Iceland still believe in elves. “That’s true. It’s our legacy. Now, the young people ask, did Grandpa really see an elf?”
The priest said everyone in town will stay awake until the early hours, Iceland time, to see if the song wins.
“If we don’t win, it won’t break our hearts. How do you say? We have already won, “he said.” It brought the city together during difficult times. “
Booth reported from London.
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