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Category: Beowulf & Grendel News
Article Date: March 18, 2006 | Publication: CALGARY SUN | Author: LOUIS B. HOBSON

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Sturla Gunnarsson left his native Iceland when he was seven, but the land of ice, snow and magnificent cliffs has never been far from his heart.

"I went back many times when I was a young person. And after I graduated from UBC, I worked on a fishing boat off the coast of Iceland," says Gunnarsson from his home in Toronto.

Gunnarsson majored in film studies at the UBC, became a director working on such Canadian TV shows as The Beachcombers, The Ray Bradbury Theatre and Da Vinci's Inquest.

He made the critically acclaimed Newfoundland comedy Rare Birds with William Hurt in 2001 which brought him closer to his real dream.

"I was always looking for a story I could film in the landscapes of Iceland because they are so amazing."

When screenwriter Andrew Rai Berzins suggested they film the ancient poem Beowulf in Iceland, Gunnarsson knew he'd found the ideal match.

"Beowulf is a saga in which the elements are as important as the characters and that's also what Iceland is like. When you're there, you realize just how small and insignificant you are in the incredible environment."

Gunnarsson filmed Beowulf & Grendel in 2004. It premiered at the Toronto and Calgary film festivals last September.

Gerard Butler plays the warrior Beowulf, who is summoned to rid a neighbouring clan of the troll Grendel (Ingvar Eggert Sigurethsson), who has vowed revenge for his father's murder.

Sarah Polley is Selma the witch who seduces both Beowulf and Grendel.

"Beowulf is a powerful, masculine warrior but he also has a quiet, soulful side. Gerard is very masculine but he also has a sensitive nature," says Gunnarsson.

He and Polley have been friends for years but couldn't find a project they could work together on.

"Sarah said she'd never been offered a role that allowed her to explore a character's carnal side. She loved that Selma allowed her to be really sexy and sensual."

Beowulf is now playing.


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