Heart of Light tells the story of a family in Greenland torn apart by conflict between past traditions and the modern world. The point of departure is a bloody tragedy when Nisi, the older son, suffers a mental collapse a... more »nd goes on a killing rampage before pointing the gun at himself. Grief, disgrace and shame invade the world of the involved and his father Rasmus, faced with a growing contempt from his younger son Simon, decides to leave the community. He heads for the icy inland on a broken dogsled. He encounters an old hermit who magically takes him into the past. It is a perilous journey between a stark reality and a mystical world in search of an inner compass. The location shooting was carried out under extremely tough conditions with temperatures down to 70 degrees centigrade below zero. The cast and crew had to stay in a camp near the ice cap and sleep in tents raised on the bare ice.« less
Placed me inside of Intuit culture and enriched my life.
Linda Linguvic | New York City | 02/15/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Filmed in the Greenlander Inuit language, this 1998 film works on two levels - realism and myth. Native Greenlanders who were colonized by Denmark in 1947. Now, fifty years later, their culture has been marginalized by alcoholism. Rasmuth is typical of his people. He drinks too much and embarrasses his family. And when he tries to go hunting, he doesn't even have the proper clothing. One of his teenage sons has drifted into the mainstream culture and despises him. The other son has a mental breakdown and goes on a murderous rampage before turning the gun on himself. Rasmuth is shamed beyond belief, and goes on a journey into the heart of the frozen world to redeem himself. Along the way he meets a hermit who helps him on his quest. This is where the film turns mythic. Usually I don't like films that bend reality. But this film was different because it was told from inside the Inuit culture. The acting was of high quality. And the cinematography was excellent. I felt I was picked up and put down in a world I know little about. And when the film was over, I knew that my own life was enriched because of it. I didn't even mind the slightly uneven pacing. I therefore highly recommend this film for anyone who doesn't mind a bit of sadness and is willing to learn about a way of life outside our everyday world."
The mythic past meets the modern world
Linda Linguvic | 09/27/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"What a fascinating and unique film! I think this is the first film to be produced in Greenland, using Inuit actors, since Knud Rasmussen produced his silent classic "The Wedding of Paolo" back in the 1930's. I had heard that "Atanarjuat: The Fast Runner" was the first film to be produced in the Inuit language, but this film is primarily in Inuit too ( and some Danish). This is a film about the human side of a culture in transition- the Inuit people are proud, self sufficient and live in beautiful modern houses, but something is missing. What is missing is a piece of the soul, both the soul of the protagonist, Rasmus, and the soul of the whole culture. The Greenlanders quick advancement into the modern world, an issue that is dealt with in the film, leaves a fractured and incomplete culture struggling to adapt. The beautiful church were Services are held does not completely fill this gap, because some of it lies in the past and in the pre-Christian myths that are so important to a culture's identity. On one level the film is a brutally real look at the worst aspects of modern times, on the other it is a surreal journey into the mythic past and into a man's hidden Psyche that allows him to piece together what is missing to make him a whole person again, and also to help heal a community torn by a tragic murder and suicide. The scenery is beautiful, and as a sled dog enthusiast I enjoyed the scenes with the beautiful Huskies pulling the sled with tails happily waving- Rasmus cracks his little whip but does not beat his dogs like the villain in Atanarjuat. Rasmus is a kind man to other people and his dogs- he will not abandon his team to be rescued by helicopter when stranded, and when he runs out of food and bullets so he can not feed himself or his dogs, he decides in desperation to kill one of the dogs to feed the others ( animal lovers, this does not happen due to an intervention, in fact no animals are killed on camera). In a particularly touching scene, he slowly and gently leads the dog away from the rest, strokes it tenderly, and says "easy boy" before he is stopped by a strange hermit who helps him find food. The hermit is both a Human and kind of a magical being, as he takes Rasmus into the past and into his own memories, and shows him the inspiration to keep going. Rasmus' wife comes across as a very strong, wise and compassionate woman who deals with her husband's failures with humor and evening optimism, even after she loses one of her sons and is shunned by the community. And she is a bit psychic, which even sceptics like Peter Freuchen noticed was a real, effective, and accepted part of life among the Inuit, as was stepping easily back and forth between the "real" and mythic worlds to learn and heal and remain whole. The film's use of this concept makes it particularly Inuit in it's viewpoint, though it may seen odd to outsiders.
The film shows a particularly traumatic flashback associated with, of all things,the nursery rhyme "Itsy Bitsy Spider" - but you have to see the film to know what I am talking about. Cultural oppression takes some pretty bizarre forms sometimes!"
I agree with one of the other reviewers,
W. Killion | Spokane, WA | 12/19/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"you forget that there are subtitles and it is very refreshing to watch a movie without a 'movie-star' and alot of production. It is not a 'Hollywood movie', filmed on a set made to look cold with a star wearing caribou skins acting like she is an 'Eskimo' with the trials & tribulations of that life.
This is not a movie for someone who needs a 'big name', and/or alot of car chases/explosions. I do not think this is a chick flick or date movie.
I do not usually do reviews but i had to weigh in on this one.
I really like it."
Human, nature and deep respect
W. Killion | 01/06/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Heart of Light is one of the best movies I have ever seen. It tells a story of a man finding his identity after huge changing of society. This combined with experiences in his childhood - experiences that he felt like a runaway from his roots - sends the man out on a quest. And what a quest! A beatiful, genuine and deep story - I cried every time I saw it. And I guess I will all the future times I will see this movie, again and again. Rasmus Lyberth, though not an actor, has the power of the Greenlandish people - power of nature, power of life. A masterpiece by Jacob Gronlykke. Congratulations!"
Gem of a film!
W. Killion | 10/21/2000
(4 out of 5 stars)
"The title, "Heart of Light" is what this film is all about. The deep darkness of a lost soul is cleansed by the shining purity of winter's light. This is a film about revisiting the past in order to overcome its demons. It is a film about recovering a lost time and a lost culture. It is a film in a language that you are unlikely to hear often, if ever again...the language of native Greenlanders. It is a film with images of a harsh but beautiful landscape. With its shining crystal ice images, it is indeed a gem of a film."