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Saturday, October 1, 2011

Ugh! Ugh! Here I Smell the Blood of a Christian Man!

To begin my month of monster movies I’m starting (early) with the 2010 film Troll Hunter (Trolljegeren) from Norway.

This movie comes as a bit of a surprise.  We’ve seen vampires to death. And Zombies. And Werewolves.  We’ve seen countless variations on Frankenstein’s monster.  We’ve watched giant lizards destroy Tokyo over and over and over again.

But Trolls?   Trolls?  When have we ever seen a monster movie about trolls?

This is a sly little film, clever and funny.  And probably more than I recognize.   I recognized some of the references, nods to Norwegian culture such as the music of Edward Grieg – In the Hall of the Mountain King- and the painter Theodor Kittelsen. I recognized references to some Norwegian fairy tales, including the Three Billy Goats Gruff.  But I’m sure that there’s just as much that I missed, not being Norwegian.

But the movie works well even if you aren’t familiar with these things.  My kids watched it with me and they loved it. 

The film is ostensibly the found footage of a team of college filmmakers who set out to make a documentary about bear poachers, and discover something more mysterious.  Hans, the alleged poacher, in reality is a government employee of the TSS (Troll Security Service).  There is danger and fear in his work as he tracks and kills rogue trolls who have escaped from their designated lands.

Some reviewers of Trollhunter have complained that the movie is too long (one saying by as much as 20 % too long) with long driving scenes filmed through the windows of cars and land rovers – but the scenery is beautiful. Norway’s rugged landscapes and overcast and foggy skies set a solemn backdrop for the dry humor of the film. 

The trolls are mostly heard and not seen.  Their bellows and howls off camera are effectively disturbing. And when the monsters are seen they are wonderful. The movie was made with a comparatively low budget, but you wouldn’t know that from the quality of the special effects. Like the trolls of myth and legend they are large and ugly and foul smelling.  They are as dumb as the stone they eat.  They come out of their caves only at night, as their bodies are unable to process the vitamin D in sunlight.  It builds up in their bodies and causes them to calcify (turn to stone) or to explode.

And they hate Christians.

They are physically incensed by the smell of Christian sweat and blood.  At one point the troll hunter lures a troll out by playing a schmaltzy Norwegian version of What a Friend we Have in Jesus” through a loudspeaker.

"Ugh! Ugh! Here I smell the blood of a Christian man!" - Excerpt from ‘Soria Moria Castle’ -a Norwegian fairy tale

It seems that Troll hatred for Christians is ancient and deeply rooted but only vaguely understood.  Some suggest that troll hatred for Christians stems from that fact that before Christianity came to the fjords of Scandinavia the trolls were themselves worshiped by the Nordic pagans. As the people turned their devotion to Christ and away from the trolls, the beasts were forced to retreat to the rugged and lonely mountains where they nursed their resentment.

Whatever the reason for their aversion to Christians, they appear in the film, to be unfazed by Atheists and Muslims.  Go figure.

Our lives are a Christ-like fragrance rising up to God. But this fragrance is perceived differently by those who are being saved and by those who are perishing.
2 Corinthians 2:15


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