It took eight years and a very enticing look book before Lamb co-writer and director Valdimar Jóhannsson got Iceland’s current Oscar entry off the ground.
The A24 theatrical release follows a childless couple, Maria (Noomi Rapace) and Ingvar (Hilmir Snær Guðnason), who are desolate sheep farmers in the cold countryside. Then something wonderful happens — you could call it divine – and without spoiling too much a special someone comes into their lives. They name her Ada.
The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo actress told us during during the film’s panel at Deadline’s Contenders Film: International that Jóhannsson’s pitch was of few words, but rather a bulk of pictures in a heavy volume of illustrations he created. “I was drawn into the universe of Lamb,” Rapace said.
The filmmaker co-penned the screenplay with Icelandic poet Sjón. Jóhannsson even created a clay scale model of the farm he yearned to create for the film.
In finding that farmland location in Iceland, Rapace laughs that the filmmaker was “driving around the islands to find the matching farm to his clay farm.”
When finally discovered, let’s just say the location was bliss.
“You drove into the valleys and everything just died,” Rapace said. “It felt like you were swallowed by the universe, and everything was fading, and we were just going deeper and deeper into the world of Lamb.”
Explaining how the Christ-like movie relates to today’s world, Rapace remarked: “It’s quite a universal story. It deals with parenthood, loss, healing.”
“Humans versus nature and how far are we willing to go,” she added. “How much have we taken and when will nature hit back at us?”
Lamb has grossed $2.7 million at the domestic box office for A24 and holds a Rotten Tomatoes score of 84% certified fresh. Jóhannsson won the Un Certain Regard Prize of Originality award at this year’s Cannes Film Festival.
Check out the panel video above.
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