“Reply to a letter from Helga” (Svar við bréfi Helgu) has a special place in the hearts of Icelanders. Published in 2010, the novel is only 106 pages long, but through an explosive story about a peasant in the Strandil region, famously isolated during World War II, the human being of love and regret. It seems to capture the whole experience of
The story begins with Bjarni, a farmer, replying to Helga’s letter, but decades too late, about to express his regrets to his former lover. The novel is brilliantly written by Bergsfein Birgisson, a doctor of Nordic studies. He has a unique way of combining literature and research, which is featured in another of his works, the great historical novel Black His Vikings.
Reply to a Letter from Helga is currently being filmed and is sure to be one of the most exciting film events in Iceland this year.
“This story is about how epic emotions can be,” says filmmaker Artha Helga Hjorleifsdottir, who brought this incredible story to life. This is Ása Helga’s second feature film, following her critically acclaimed debut, ‘The Swan’, based on her Guðbergur Bergsson coming-of-age story about a girl who finds herself in the Icelandic countryside.
Adopting “Reply to Helga’s Letter” for the screen takes courage, given how strong the connection Icelanders have with the novel.
“The great thing about this story is that everyone who reads it feels like it belongs in some way,” says Ása Helga.
Concerned book lovers can rest assured, however. Bergswein himself contributed to the script, along with Artha Helga and Otto Gale Borg. The stories they love are in capable hands. Ása Helga says the story caught her eye several years ago as a potential film adaptation. “When I first read it, I had no idea it was going to be a movie, but I immediately felt connected to the story. is unique,” explains Asa Helga.
“The great thing about this story is that everyone who reads it feels like they own it in some way.”
This movie is also making waves thanks to its all-star cast. Hera Hilmarsdóttir plays Helga after a string of international successes with her movie ‘Mortal Engine’ and her AppleTV’s ‘See’ starring Jason Momoa. While earning her a reputation as one of Iceland’s premier film stars, Bjarni honed her skills at Juilliard and Oxford University, and like Hera, Thorvaldur, her Davies, her Christian brought to life by Son. Ása Helga said it was an honor to work with them, adding that they are emotionally brave actors.
“They were capable and ready to live in a gray area of emotion, and there was complete trust between us,” she says.
The film will premiere on September 2nd. English subtitles on Bíó Paradís.