Celebrated for his theatrical work, Benedikt Erlingsson (born 1969) wows audiences with his debut film Hross í Oss (Of Horses and Men), premiered in autumn 2013, which explores the horse in the man and the man in the horse. The film is Iceland’s contender in the race for the Foreign Language Oscar 2014.
Published in the 2013 October-December issue of Iceland Review – IR 05.13. By Ásta Andrésdóttir. Photo by Páll Stefánsson.
1: Of Horses and Men is a country romance, interweaving dramatic vignettes, all featuring man and horse. What was the idea behind this film, which you wrote and directed?
I wanted to create a context; a multilayered film. A portrait of the human being and the animal—and of the two together as a part of nature. A good story is entertaining, but also lingers within you, touching on your values and earning a place in your heart. Actually, the film must speak for itself. All I can say is that I hope that people enjoy it.
2: Icelanders have always had a strong relationship with horses, haven’t they?Yes, everything has changed since the first Viking settlement, except for the way we interact with our horses. In Icelandic we don’t say that we break a horse. We train a horse. We’re companions, equals.
3: You’re an equestrian yourself, aren’t you?
I’d rather call myself an aficionado. I own a few horses and enjoy spending time with them and taking good care of them. This was a project close to my heart.
4: Despite its multi-national set of characters, the film isn’t subtitled. Why is that?
There’s no need. Audiences sense what the characters are saying by their tone of voice and their gestures. One of the film’s layers is an international perspective of Iceland’s multi-cultural community. In a way, it is an ode to the tourist—that beautiful flower in Iceland’s flora.
You can read the remainder of this article in the October-December issue of Iceland Review – IR 05.13. Five times a year the print edition of Iceland Review & Atlantica brings you a wealth of articles on all aspects of life in Iceland including Páll Stefánsson’s latest images of the country’s majestic landscape. Click here to subscribe and here to view a selection of pages from the current issue.