If the Light Takes Us

If the Light Takes Us

Directed by Anna Maria Helgadóttir

  • Denmark;
  • Original version: Danish
  • Genre: Drama

  • IN THE DARK ROOM previous work of director Anna Maria Helgadóttir, available for screening on Festival Scope

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IF THE LIGHT TAKES US tells the story of Vilja, a young woman of 18, living with her alcoholic father on a small island. They have been living together in an incestuous, marriage-like relationship since Vilja’s mother died 5 years earlier. When a young man Niels comes sailing to the island on a small boat, Vilja falls in love with him and starts to see her life through his eyes. She realises that it is time for her to leave. As it turns out, this is not as easy as she thought. Pappa has an emotional grasp on Vilja and she keeps getting drawn back in. She decides to trust Niels, to trust his love for her and confides the whole story of her relationship with Pappa to him. Niels is furious and dead set on taking Vilja off the island and away from Pappa as soon as possible. As they are planning to leave, however, Niels dies in an accident. Vilja now knows that her only way out is to get rid of Pappa.

Director's Statement

IF THE LIGHT TAKES US explores how power can be abused within a small community and a rotten family structure where the abuse has become a fact of life. The victim of the abuse succumbs to it almost gladly, masochistically. It is a sort of hypnosis. The protagonist and the abused in If the Light Takes Us is Vilja, a conflicted yet sympathetic young woman. She is trying to break free from her controlling father and the environment she grew up in. She is caught between three men, two of which try to oppress her (her father and an ex-boyfriend) and one who is trying to save her (a young man, Niels). Why doesn’t Vilja just get up and leave? Well, it is difficult to break free from emotional prisons, whether you have created them yourself or others have created them for you. It would seem that love is the only way out for Vilja. But in the end it is her will to act and release herself without help from any outsider that saves her. She forces the hand of chance. It is a portrait of a strong woman who defies her odds and takes matters into her own hands. I want myself and the audience to get into Vilja’s mind and feel her struggle, sympathize with her even though she is an ambiguous character. And I want us to be wiser and more understanding of human nature at the end of the film. Not just Vilja’s but Pappa’s, Niels’ and Christian’s as well.



    Per Damgaard Hansen