Lamb: A Mind-Bending Icelandic Film

Foreign films are nothing new to the United States. Most of them are Bollywood productions from India or horror films from Japan and Korea, like the Oscar award-winning ‘Parasite’ released in 2019. But now, with the release of  “Lamb,” Director Valdimar Jóhannsson may be making Icelandic film history.

The trailer for “Lamb” left many wondering about the film, and soon theories started to form in the comment section of the trailer’sYouTube video. The film is rated R and is advertised as horror. However, “Lamb” will most likely be seen more as a thought art-house film than a horror film to the American audience. The movie has very little dialogue, leaving much of the plot for the audience’s brain to figure out. And the ending is so abrupt, viewers will be shocked it’s over. For an hour and 46-minute movie, it leaves a lot for the brain to ponder.

The film takes place in the mountainous lands of Iceland. The two main characters are sheep farmers who live a typical life until one of their ewes gives birth to a lamb with a significant abnormality. The lamb is half-human. She resembles a lamb from her head to her right arm, and the rest of her is human. We can assume our two main characters, Maria and Ingvar, are desperate for a child due to their immediate acceptance of bringing the lamb child into their life. They name the little female lamb Ada. The name has a special meaning to the film, but that is for the viewers to find themselves. When Uncle Pétur shows up, their lifestyle with Ada is challenged. Not only by Pétur but also by something far more sinister.

The characters are well-rounded but also mysterious. To the viewer, they can either be seen as protagonists or antagonists, depending on their perception. Their outfits are typical modern-day Icelandic sweaters that help them keep warm in the freezing climate of Iceland. One big question from fans is how Ada’s character was formulated? When asked how he approached Ada’s look, Valdimar Jóhannsson highlighted patience.  “The actors were also very important because we used lambs, children, and puppets to shoot those scenes, so shooting took a long time, and they had to be very patient,” he said to Screen Daily.

When asked where the inspiration came from, Valdimar Jóhannsson said, “I was inspired by so many things: films, folklore, books, paintings, images. I started to create a sort of sketchbook with some elements of the story and drawings…” he said to Screen Daily. 

“Lamb” is an intriguing humanity versus nature story that will keep you trying to figure out the plot for the entirety of the film and keep you engaged throughout the movie. If bizarre and abnormal concepts are your thing, “Lamb” is the movie for you.

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