Nordic Documentaries or A Mystic Trip

in 27th Göteborg International Film Festival

by Hassouna Mansouri

The Nordic competition of the 27th edition of the Gothenburg Film Festival (Jan 23 – Feb 02 involves both feature films and documentaries. Two of the latter confirmed a kind of Nordic cinema speciality. It seems to be a cultural characteristic of Scandinavian societies to try to understand life not on the level of society but on the level of individuals. Gunner goes comfortable by Gunner Hall Jensen from Norway and Hiding behind the camera part 2 by Carl Yohan De Geer from Sweden are two documentaries where the filmmakers try to understand themselves, to answer a question such as ‘Why is my life going the wrong way?’

For Carl, his problem comes from the situation of his life. His story is connected to his class history, and also with the mutation of society. For Gunner the problem is internal, it comes from his own character. In his search to understand where to find the “sense” of his life he goes deeply into his own soul.

Both of them go on a trip somewhere inside themselves by literally travelling at the same time. Carl chose Italy; Gunner preferred to go to India. The movement in space becomes a metaphor for internal travel.

Gunner tried to find some answers in Indian culture and in relief in this part of world which is far from his country. In addition to the discussion that he had with some people, he defied the Himalayan Mountain. Unsatisfied for the answers that humans can give him he tried looking somewhere else, in another space. Finally he was convinced that the answer could come only from inside his self. In the trip up the Himalayas he found himself faced with his anxiety.

Carl’s trip takes place in a nearer country and in a different way. No conversation with people, only a fictitious journey in which he goes alone up a mountain or into a dark tunnel where he faces his solitude. His only luck is to find a bottle of wine. The challenge of analyzing his existential crises turns, like for Gunner, on going up a mountain.

In these two internal Odysseys, the mystic travel inside the human soul become desire to move in space. At the end there is a return to the beginning, to the origin of the crises. Gunner come back to his country to find his family and start to deal with his house. Carl comes to admit the confusion between the feeling that he has for his “noble” parents and his ideological convictions. At the end, in an interview with a television reporter, he recognizes the truth of his good feelings for his family even if his political ideas go against it. In the two mystic trips the end is a return to reality.