As Black Friday swept the malls of America, Iceland too was swept up in the Christmas spirit. Sunday many celebrated the first day of advent, typically a family affair. There were also gatherings in downtown Reykjavík, and, yes, the malls went a little crazy.
But something is missing this holiday season, as demonstrated on the first day of advent. In addition to the religious thing, Sunday is a weekly secular holiday here: it's the day locals go to the movies.
Often mentioned in the international papers, Icelanders go to the movies as much as people in any other country... per capita. More impressive, they go to see real stinkers. This week, for example, one can see "Alien vs. Predator", "Shall We Dance", "Dodgeball", "Forgotten" or "Mindhunter", with the new "Bridget Jones" movie and horror flick "The Grudge" rounding out the stock. Not good stuff.
For those few interested in arty movies, there is some kind of Noir festival at the university cinema.
So I decided to stay home last night, despite offers of free tickets if I would help with a review. (A hefty offer, mind you, as tickets here are the third most expensive in the world, according to the BBC.)
Then I remembered the fanfare last year at this time. Everyone I knew was pre-ordering Lord of the Rings tickets, or, as it was called here, Hringadröttins Saga. All the cool 101 artists and wannabes, all the kids from the suburbs, all the foreigners, everyone wanted tickets. Seeing a story inspired by Icelandic folklore on a cold winter night-it was the kind of social event that I'd always heard movies were supposed to be: so much more than just the summer blockbuster.
I'm not saying I wish things were as they were. This Thursday, a bold new documentary will be released about Iceland's peace corps. An important film, I'm sure. And the new Wes Anderson movie may make it to Iceland before 2006. But the traditionalist I-fear-winter-and-want-some-way-to-vent in me really enjoyed seeing those hobbits beat up spiders and trolls, things that creep up in the long, long nights. BC [email protected]