ICELAND – In Netflix’s latest movie, Eurovision Song Contest: The Story Of Fire Saga, Will Ferrell and Rachel McAdams play two childhood friends who live in a small town in Iceland. Gameradar.com thought to ask a resident Icelander what he makes of the new movie, and how accurate Pierce Brosnan’s Icelandic is…
Here’s what Total Film’s production editor – and resident Icelander – Erlingur Einarsson, makes of the new Netflix movie
The most egregious crimes this film commits are linked to the contest itself, rather than any feared mockery of Icelanders, who seem to have largely embraced the film. There are seven performers on stage in Sweden’s act (that’s an automatic disqualification), instruments are plugged in (banned outright because no one wants to wait around for techies to get the stage ready each act), and Ferrell’s Lars manages to stop a song on the stage (remember when SuRie literally got decked by a stage invader and they didn’t even lower the playback volume?) to name just a few of the worst violations.
Does everyone in Iceland pretend to hate Eurovision but still watch it anyway?
Yes. Eurovision in 2019 had a 98.4% share of the Icelandic TV audience, with at least 67% of the entire nation watching at any given time throughout the three-hour programme. If the same percentage of UK persons watch Eurovision, that would equate to about 43.5 million viewers in the UK alone.
Do Icelanders really believe in elves?
No. What’s factually real doesn’t require belief. Only acknowledgement. While we do occasionally call them álfar (elves), we prefer to call them huldufólk, or hidden people. Fun fact: If they ever move, they do so on New Year’s Eve.
Is there a single “correct” Icelandic name in the film?
Yes. One, Arnar the cop. All the others are either Swedish (Lars, Olaf) or the sort of thing you can only get from a Hollywood script consultant who spent about 18 seconds googling Nordic names. The worst? Ólafur Darri’s “Neils Brongus” – a name that looks and sounds like a linguist having a stroke.
Speaking of Arnar the cop. Where do I know him from?
He plays King Eist of Cintra in The Witcher.
Do Icelanders really dress like that?
Is Will Ferrell’s accent awful?
Yes. In fact, it’s more Swedish than Icelandic, but as long as it’s not Danish, he’s forgiven.
Is the guy shouting “Ja Ja Ding Dong” at Fire Saga an offensive stereotype of an angry Icelandic small-town saddo?
Not even a little bit. I could name about 20 people both me and Hannes (the actor who plays him) know personally that he’s basing this guy on. And yes, the “Ja Ja Ding Dong” Guy is the funniest thing in this film.
How bad is Pierce Brosnan’s Icelandic in the opening scene?
It’s worse than the Icelandic in Jim Caviezel’s Outlander but better than the Icelandic in The Golden Compass.
Do Icelanders really hate American tourists that much?
Yep. The anti-NATO riot in Iceland of 30 March 1949 was prompted by the decision of the Alþingi, the Icelandic parliament, to join the newly formed NATO, thereby involving Iceland directly in the Cold War, opposing the Soviet Union and re-militarizing the country. Several hundred protesters first convened behind a school in the centre of Reykjavík and then marched on Austurvöllur, a small park in front of the parliament building, where a throng of people had already arrived positioning themselves between the parliament and the rioters, intending to defend it. At first, the demonstrators were calm, but when a leading member of the Socialist Party announced over a loudspeaker that the leader of his party was held hostage inside the Parliament building, things became violent. Rocks and eggs were tossed at the building, some breaking the windows and one narrowly missing the head of the Parliamentary president, until the Reykjavík police force, aided by volunteers from the Independence Party intervened, beating rioters down and eventually launching tear gas grenades at the rioters. It was the first time police in Iceland used tear gas against protesters and the only time until 2009, when police used it during the Icelandic financial crisis protests. The riot continued also after the conclusion of the vote and lasted for several hours.
Why is there no mention of Björk?
No one in Iceland ever talks about Björk. She’s not even played on the radio, except for one jazz album she made with a local band in 1990. You’ll get more exposure to Björk in any given 25 minutes on BBC Radio 6 Music than in a year in Iceland.