This week, BUFS is pleased to present Rams Directed by Grímur Hákonarson and starring Sigurður Sigurjónsson, Theodór Júlíusson, and Charlotte Bøving
Set in the rural north of Iceland, Rams is a narrative feature drama about two unmarried elderly brothers, Gummi (Sigurður Sigurjónsson,) and Kiddi (Theodór Júlíusson), who work and live next door to each other as sheep farmers in a remote Icelandic valley. The two men haven’t spoken in over 40 years. They communicate with one another by tying a note to a dog’s collar and they only communicate when it’s absolutely necessary.
In the community where the two brothers live, a man’s sheep represents their pride. This becomes evident when the oldest brother Kiddi wins first prize for the most highly-prized ram in the valley community. Funny enough, Gummi comes in second place directly behind his brother who he despises. Kiddi, in an attempt to prove his superiority, holds it over his younger brother’s head. This victory is quickly off-set when Gummi, who is jealous that his brother has won yet another local award for his prized sheep, sneaks onto his property to take a look at the animal. He discovers his brothers prized ram has scrapie, an illness that attacks the sheep’s brain and spinal cord and is highly contagious and incurable. This discovery devastates the local community as they find out they must slaughter entire herds of sheep and that a prohibition against sheep farming will be implemented for two years.
The two brothers, so closely tied to their sheep both for livelihood and as a way of life, don’t respond well to the current situation they are facing. Kiddi begins to drink heavily and Gummoi refuses to let the authorities kill His sheep. Gummi instead promises to do it himself. However, instead of killing them he makes a risky decision to hide a few of his most prized sheep in his basement not really thinking about the consequences. When Gummi’s sheep are eventually discovered the two brothers realize they must put aside their egos and come together to save what they hold dearest to them, their sheep.
Rams is a one of a kind must see film. The audience cannot predict where this film will lead as they are taken on a journey of remoteness and solitude through a very deeply rooted culture. The cinematography of the vast region in Iceland is absolutely breathtaking. Director Grímur Hákonarson captures the beauty and stillness of the remote landscape wonderfully. He also manages to balance the drama unfolding between the two brothers with some black humor, humanizing the story and adding to the compelling complexity of the brothers’ relationship with one another.
Rams screens Wednesday at 7:00 p.m. at the Landmark Theatres, Pen Centre. Visit brocku.ca/bufs for details.