Ljósband Filmworks

Hekla, Her World (Working title)

Half-Tröll Hekla faces a grim future. Motherless and on the run in a land of strife, plague and fairy tale monsters, she teams up with a handsome but shady Tröll and a very clever, but extremely vain, peasant girl. Troubled but empowered by her own emerging magical powers, Hekla and her band of outsiders rise against the evil Tröll king Grímur and his army of deadwalkers.

SYNOPSIS:

The half-human Hekla flees her isolated cave when her Tröll mother is murdered by her brother, the evil Tröll king GRÍMUR. Hekla sets out on a voyage to find shelter with her aunt ÆGILEIF, a powerful sorceress who lords over a human village in the Highlands. On her journey, Hekla encounters Ása, a frivolous but clever human girl left orphaned in the black plague, and KETILL, a young and exeptionally handsome Tröll, formerly the apprentice of Grímur, who seeks to avenge his sister's death. Together with the tame water horse DÓSÓTHEUS and the talking raven FLÓKI, the three travel through the bleak landscape of medieval Iceland, where mermen, wolverines and sea wyrms roam freely.

The companions battle Grímur's deadwalkers, his sinister Draugr Riders and his deadly fog of black plague. The three also must face their own shortcomings. Ketill abandons Hekla and Ása, but in the nick of time returns to help them escape a vicious shell monster's lair. Through their friendship, the three overcome their own prejudices and flaws. Hekla accepts her own Tröllish nature and learns how to wield her magical powers, Ketill learns to appreciate humanity, and Ása learns how to be brave and selfless.

The capricious Ægileif welcomes the trio into her village where she is safely hidden from Grímur's sorcery. Ægileif unmasks Ketill's secret, that it was he who cast the spell which killed Hekla's mother, and tells them how to defeat Grímur. Ægileif is killed by a mob of panicked villagers, and, in her final moments, passes on her magical powers to her niece. Hekla, Ketill and Flóki travel to the Westman Islands to defeat Grímur, while Ása and Dóstheus stay behind to save the village from the Draugr Riders. Hekla and Ketill fight an army of deadwalkers, Trölls and giants, and finally avenge their loved ones by killing Grímur. They return victorious to the Highlands and join in celebration with the villagers and Ása.

Iceland has a rich heritage of the supernatural and the story of Hekla Tröllsdaughter is steeped in Icelandic folklore. The Icelandic landscape is wild, desolate and awe-inspiring, and, for centuries, Icelanders have had to share their home with monsters, Trölls, ghosts and hidden people. The story of Hekla Tröllsdaughter celebrates the untamed nature of Iceland, its glaciers, volcanoes and vast lavafields, and brings to life the monsters that still hide in the caves and creeks of the countryside.

THE INSPIRATION:

Iceland has long been romanticized as the "island of the sagas." It is an isolated island in the middle of the North Atlantic Ocean whose inhabitants created some of the most enduring sagas of the Middle Ages. However, a richer inheritance can be found in the oral traditions of the country. For hundreds of years the inhabitants of this harsh island have told stories of plucky young men and women who face unimaginable hardships, poverty, disease, natural disasters and, yes, the plethora of monsters found in the mountains and the caves of the country.

These stories are as varied as they are many. Some of these stories are distant cousins of the contes de fe?es or Ma?rchen of the European mainland, translated in the distant past and transposed onto the Icelandic storyscape. Others are purely Icelandic, stories memorializing traumatic events of our collective past, a memorial to the delicate relationship between man and nature in the bleak landscape of Iceland.

Hekla is an amalgamation of the many different fables and fairy tales which have been told throughout the centuries. The story is set in the midst of the devastation of the Black Death and brings to life the stories which our ancestors spun in their attempt to explain the unimaginable horror of the plague years. To them, monstrous creatures were as natural as the sinewy sheep roaming the hills. The film attempts to recreate in vivid colors an image of Iceland long gone. It celebrates the strong women which have always played such a large part in Icelandic culture, from the Icelandic sagas up to the modern era of Björk. The film introduces us to the strong, independent heroine Hekla, who lives life on her own terms, much in the mode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Katniss Everdeen of The Hunger Games.

THE WORLD OF HEKLA

The old fairy tales, that people whisper under their breath and tell only at night, are all true. Across the globe, mythological monsters stalk the hills and infest the waters, and mankind has learned to live with these creatures. Many such strange beings live in Iceland, but three races are most prominent: Humans, Tröll and the Hidden People.
 
Humans first arrived in Iceland during the age of settlement, in the late 9th century. The vikings set out to find new lands in the West, fleeing the increasing attacks and frequent raids of monsters in mainland Europe. However, Iceland did not prove to be a place of refuge. When humans arrived in Iceland, they encountered local monsters and creatures that had lived there in isolation for millennia and were very different from what they were used to.
 
Human beings might appear to be very vulnerable to the monstrous forces all around them. They have no magic powers to speak of, and are neither particularly strong nor particularly smart. But they do have one thing none of the monsters possess: sheer numbers. Should it ever stand united, mankind could vanquish the most horrible of foes.
 
Men have slowly been learning craft and magic to defeat monsters, but this magic is bound within rituals and organised religion. The Christian church is an institution which seeks to unite all of mankind against trolls, elves, dwarves and monsters. The rituals and sigils of the church can even grant certain supernatural powers to humans. Men cannot cast spells, but the cross and certain prayers have a similar function, staving off or even killing monsters.
 
Since Iceland is isolated from the rest of the world, Christianity arrived late and struggled for acceptance. But after centuries of persistence, just as our story begins, the church appears to have finally gained a foothold. This new power frightens the many creatures of the land, the Tro?ll especially, who set out to rid the island of mankind before the church gathers enough strength to overpower them.
 
The Tröll, the Icelandic trolls, are very different from their European, bridge-dwelling cousins. Their race evolved independently for thousands of years in the isolation of the Arctic. The Tröll are powerful mages, and can summon deadwalkers and specters to do their bidding using blood magic. The Tröll look human, yet their features are larger and they are more rugged. Though most of Tröllkind is grotesque, some have an animal magnetism which is very attractive to humans. They are the Icelandic equivalent to both the sexy vampire and the smoldering werewolf.

The Tröll are self-centered, flamboyant and constantly warring amongst themselves. The Tröll are few, as their endless, bloody grabs for power have kept the population down – there are only around 1500 Tröll in the whole of Iceland. Since the arrival of humans, the Tröll have made attempts to put an end to their internal strife.

Twenty years before the beginning of our story, one Tröll, Grýla, finally manages to unite most of the Icelandic trolls under her rule. Grýla founds a Tröll state in the Vestfjords, and has begun the massive undertaking of digging a canal between the Vestfjord peninsula and the Icelandic mainland. A few Tröll still refuse to gather under Grýla’s banner, and most of them have aligned themselves with Grímur, whose headquarters are in the Westman Islands.
 
Grýla is the oldest of five siblings. Second oldest is Gellivör, Hekla’s mother. Then Ægileif, Grímur and finally Skrámur. Only Skrámur has stayed in the Vestfjords, where he serves as an advisor to his sister. Gellivör fell in love with a human man and fled to human territory with her lover and their unborn child, but now lives alone in a cave on the barren Reykjanes peninsula. Ægileif refuses to serve at her sister’s court and has settled comfortably in the Highlands, where she has enslaved the human population of a small hamlet and lives in luxury. Only Grímur seeks to overthrow his sister, and he has amassed a small army of Tröll in the Vestman Islands, where he plots his invasion into Grýla’s domain.
 
The Hidden People, Icelandic elves, are a mysterious race, who avoid Tröll and humans alike and refuse to interfere in their affairs. All across Iceland, one can spot their cities, towers which sparkle and shine like polished glass in the distance. When Tröll or men get closer, however, these cities appear as barren cliffs. It is only with the aid of hidden people that one can enter elven territory.
 
Yet the hidden people have been known to visit humans from time to time. Stories tell of how some elves have sought human help, invited men into their cities, and how they have abducted humans, children and adults alike, but most commonly they steal toddlers and leave their own children, changelings, in their stead. No one knows why. The hidden people are particularly keen on milk, and will often accost people for a sip when passing by a human farm or village. And every so often, a human and an elf will fall in love. The hidden people have a sophisticated and advanced culture with a rich literature.

The hidden people despise Tröll and want nothing to do with them – and no matter how many times the Tröll have tried to invade their territory, they have never succeeded. Even so, the hidden people have never been known to come to the aid of human settlements under Tröll aggression.

A great many other strange creatures are to be found in Iceland, creatures such as water horses, skoffins, shell monsters, mermen, ghoul cats and sea wyrms. Only the water horses form societies, underwater villages which are found deep in the many lakes of the land. All these creatures can cause great harm to humans, especially to those who are reckless enough to wander the countryside alone.