Reviewed at Cannes Film Festival (market), May 21, 1993. (In Edinburgh, Telluride film festivals.) Running time: 86 MIN.
Woman … Anne Krigsvoll
Man … Ketil Hoegh
Children … Eirin Hargaut,
Skillfully blending docu inserts with an abstract art movie approach, “Stella Polaris” is a slim but moving portrait of a Norwegian fishing village forever changed by the Nazi occupation of World War II. First feature of documentarian Knut Erik Hansen is a choice bauble for fests and arthouse webs.
Set in Finnmark, land of the midnight sun, pic focuses on a couple and two children.
It’s a film of small events: The couple make love in the fjords; a German soldier shoots the kids’ cat; the women labor in the fish factory.
When the Germans raze the village to the ground during their retreat in 1944, the villagers are evacuated south.
Latter section shows a postwar freedom parade in Oslo (convincingly doubled by St. Petersburg), and the villagers’ return north to rebuild their lives, capped by ironic modern-day footage of factories and intensive fishing techniques.
Pic grew out of Jensen’s mammoth eight-hour docu on the region, “Finnmark Between East and West” (1986).
Though details are often vague — thanks to the almost complete lack of dialogue, with the passage of time marked only by glimpsed newspapers — the general line is clear enough.
The raw beauty of the locale, plus Arne Nordheim’s churning score, build to an arresting elegy on a simple way of life forever changed by history and modernism.