Thursday, July 31, 2008

On a Library Thing discussion board some people were waxing lyrical about the book Kristin Lavransdatter by Sigrid Undset. Lazy cow that I am, I decided to see if my local library had the audio book version, and was delighted to see that (bonus!) they actually had a film version. It was filmed in 1995 and directed by Liv Ullmann. The work is a trilogy that spans more than 1000 pages, but I believe the movie only covers the first book. The story is set in 14th century Norway, and describes Kristin's decision to go against her father's wishes and marry a man she loves (who is in disgrace because he already has a mistress and children) instead of the man her father has chosen for her.

In the beginning of the story, we find that although she loved a childhood friend, her father had promised her in marriage to another man. The childhood friend went off to be a soldier and was killed. Heartbroken, Kristin retreats to a nunnery for a year to grieve and avoid the arranged marriage. While in the nunnery, she is sent out to buy provisions and immediately falls in love with a man she sees in town. Who knew a nunnery was the happening place to meet men?

Many secret trysts and intense fumblings follow the initial meeting. It seems rather odd that Kristin, resident in the presumably cloistered and monitored nunnery, has no problem sneaking out at all hours for clandestine meetings with the lover. Eventually, it all comes out, and Kristin, ahead of her time, stomps her foot like a modern, petulant teenager and announces she will too marry the man she loves, no matter what her parents say.

Lots of arguing, mournful looks and wringing of hands follows. Here's the strange part: her father is adamant that she will not marry the older-already-has-a-woman-guy. Then, one night there is a big thunderstorm and the local church is struck by lightening and burns to the ground. In the very next instant, Kristin and older-already-has-a-woman-guy are standing in the burned out church, with family looking on, getting married. Honestly, here is the sequence of events:

1. Over my dead body will you marry him

2. Church fire

3. Wedding

There is no explanation at all for how we got from 1 to 3. This is a somewhat long and slow film, so you'd think they could have added an extra 30 seconds or so for an explanation, but no go.

Final Verdict for Kristin Lavransdatter the film: One Gherkin, for being very slow, not to mention totally illogical


ChefDruck said...

I love your blog! Thanks for entering the Beach House contest at my blog. I'm going to add you to my book review blog roll. Good luck!

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I'm a librarian who is interested in all things British. I try to visit London as often as possible, and am always planning my next trip. I lived in Sweden for a few years with my Swedish husband, so the occasional Swedish reference may occur . . .

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