So maybe all of a sudden we’re in a golden age of hiking films. Last summer, Klara Harden spent 25 days hiking through Iceland by herself. In a feat of impressive accomplishment, she shot her trek and edited into this beautiful, moody little film.
“Made in Iceland” is one long 15-minute kiss to this island nation astride the North American and European tectonic plates, where the forces just beneath the surface make it appear as if the land itself is on fire. The visuals are muted and saturated, deep lemony-lime greens dashed with burnt umbers and soil so black you have to see it in person to believe it, and the music is spot on contemporary and appropriate. Walking across Iceland, one can be overwhelmed by the sheer breadth of an emotional landscape, but Harden brings it to a more personal scale with lots of macro and shallow depth of field.
What’s missing is a narrative or a sense of forward motion. There’s no attempt at building a story; there are no signs to ground you in place or suggest a journey made. For all the viewer knows, Harden could have been wandering in circles (though Landmannalaugur is a right spectral place to do it). If that’s the artistic vision, okay, but the risk of building 15 minutes of video without context is that people will click away. And that would be a shame, because impressionistically, Made in Iceland is gorgeous.