8th October 2017 9.15pm at Vue West End
9th October 2017 3.15pm at Vue West End
A moving meditation on the challenges of farm life in Sweden and a disturbing psychological exposé of how it is to struggle with an unchosen vocation, Korparna (Ravens) by Jens Assur is a haunting, visually stunning work. As an award-winning photographer, the director brings mesmerising Ansel Adams-style perfection to each frame, the imagery and solemness of the film reminding of the iconic Ingmar Bergman.
Every shot by cinematographer Jonas Alarik is a work of art, bucolic, showing nature moving, breathing and undulating with its own emotion; the stillness of a boy sitting amid an ethereal symphony of birdsong, or serenely walking through tall grasses, buried in them. This stark beauty contrasts with the harshness portrayed in farming life, a grittiness, the strenuous burden of toil and labour, an overwhelming stress that the farmer Agne (Reine Brynolfsson) is unable to manage. Cows are mysteriously found dead in far removed locations. One suspects this might have some connection with his landlord, who is trying to buy him out.
Having had a desire to attend college and become a meteorologist, Agne’s father insisted that he succeed him in the running of the farm, a task he undertook reluctantly but with loyalty. It is suggested that duty is not enough and that perhaps the farm is failing because the passion is lacking.
Agne’s wife Gard (Maria Heiskanen) is a caring, supportive companion. Intimate scenes between the two are slightly voyeuristic, as if we are peeking into the bedroom of people one would not normally imagine as sexual. Their son Klas (Jacob Nordström) is a pensive boy who forms a tender friendship with a new girl, Veronika (Saga Samuelsson) from Stockholm, and who wants to study, but is doomed to the same fate as his father. The latter becomes increasingly desperate and depressed: “Everything’s going against me. I can’t take much more…40 years, what have I got to show for it?” In a harrowing instance with a wood saw, he self-mutilates in a desperate attempt to feel, a foreboding of his downward spiral.
Well acted and magnificently composed Korparna is poignantly lovely but unsettling, contemplative but viscerally harsh; it is an affecting, powerful film.
Korparna (Ravens) does not have a UK release date yet.
Read more reviews and interviews from our London Film Festival 2017 coverage here.
For further information about the festival visit the official BFI website here.
Watch the trailer for Korparna (Ravens) here: