Culture

Woman at War

This brilliant, brave, funny, tender and profoundly original Icelandic film rises to the challenges of our times

This brilliant, brave, funny, tender and profoundly original Icelandic film rises to the challenges of our times. The heroine is a musician torn between two callings - ecoterrorism and adopting an orphaned child. Our charismatic lead dives headlong into her mission lighting a way for us to follow. How do we protect our children and also the planet they hope to live on? Halla's answer is action.

Most of humanity going to the cinema in this age watch idiotic, formulaic super hero films which endlessly churn out the same dismal distractions. Super-powered and super muscled / boobed fantasy characters battle to save humanity who quiver passively in the background. The narratives draw us out of our lives, out of our power and into the pockets of the giant culture-shaping corporations that are actually destroying our planet.

Avengers: Endgame has made more money then any movie in history hitting $1 billion in just five days. Disney, the studio behind the "Marvel Universe" paid its Chief Executive, Bob Iger $65.6 million in 2018 – 1,424 times the median salary of a Disney employee. Their violent fantasies don't just provide epic circuses in which the anxious minds of our times can find some light relief. They are a deeply conservative and dis-empowering cultural force which fortify and extend the patriarchy.

Woman at War opens with our hero returning by stealth to the beautifully shot Icelandic wilderness to once again take down power lines to disrupt the operations of a Rio Tinto aluminium plant. Fully aware of the catastrophic risk large-scale industry poses to us all she steps up and takes radical action.

Of course, for all of us who blockade roads as part of Extinction Rebellion, the question is writ large. Are we doing enough? Is blockading a road adequate when just 100 companies are responsible for 71% of global emissions. Why block roads when these companies have head offices with publicly listed addresses and we can disrupt their operations directly?

Perhaps the greatest challenge for all of us communicating around environmental issues is how can we hold people's attention and empower them when the story is so scary. Our planet is dying. Most people switch off. It takes immense skill to tackle these issues with both humor and grace.

Woman at War culminates with a phenomenal twist and an ambiguous ending both joyous and sad. I left the cinema inspired, heartened and filled with renewed grit and purpose. The content I create can be bolder and funnier. Also, I am going to get a bow and arrow.

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