The Night Watch

During the summer solstice, construction workers pave new roads in the night. It’s late June. The skies are clear. The yellow vests are grimy. Above the banks of lake Þingvallavatn, a crew of men are laying asphalt – working on a stretch of road maybe a kilometre long. As the dump trucks come and go, […]

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Lamb Has Become Highest-Grossing Icelandic Film in US

lamb dýrið noomi rapace 2

Icelandic film Lamb (Dýrið) earned over $1 million [€ 864,000; ISK 130 million] in ticket sales in the United States last weekend, according to Box Office Mojo and has grossed $1.13 million worldwide. It was the seventh most popular film in US theatres last weekend. These figures make the film the highest-grossing of any Icelandic film screened in the US.

Directed by Valdimar Jóhannsson, Lamb is a supernatural drama that follows a childless couple, María and Ingvar, as they “discover a mysterious newborn on their farm in Iceland. The unexpected prospect of family life brings them much joy, before ultimately destroying them,” a plot summary of the film explains. Valdimar wrote the script alongside Icelandic author Sjón.

The film stars Hilmir Snær Guðnason alongside Swedish actress Noomi Rapace, who learned to deliver a lamb for the role. Lamb had its world premiere at the Cannes film festival earlier this year, where it won the Un Certain Regard prize, granted for originality. It is currently showing in Icelandic theatres.

Earthquakes, Uplift, and Eruptions: Busy Days at Iceland’s Met Office


Icelandic Met Office staff have had their hands full in recent weeks, monitoring the Geldingadalir eruption, uplift at Askja volcano, and earthquakes on the Reykjanes peninsula and in West Iceland. Met Office staff are setting up additional equipment by Askja to continue monitoring the uplift (land rise) in the area. While the Geldingdalir eruption has shown no surface activity since September 18, an earthquake swarm has been active just northeast of the site for around two weeks.

Magma intrusion likely causing Askja uplift

An uncertainty phase has been in effect at Askja volcano, Central Iceland, since September 9 due to ongoing uplift. Met Office staff are at Askja today setting up additional monitoring equipment, Einar Bessi Gestsson, Natural Hazard Specialist at the Icelandic Met Office, told Iceland Review. While the cause of the uplift has not been confirmed, Einar says that evidence points to a magma intrusion several kilometres below the earth’s surface.

Geldingadalir eruption takes longest break

There has been no surface activity at the Geldingadalir eruption since September 18, the longest pause in activity since the eruption began on March 19, 2021. Data gathered by the University of Iceland’s Institute of Earth Sciences on October 1 showed that no new lava had been expelled by the eruption since the pause began. Einar confirms that no volcanic tremors have been detected during this period either.

Earthquakes on Reykjanes

Just northeast of Geldingadalir, however, an earthquake swarm has been ongoing for around two weeks. Originating just southwest of Keilir mountain, the swarm has calmed somewhat in recent days, though it produced an earthquake over M3 just after 9:00 PM yesterday evening. There are no volcanic tremors or uplift associated with the swarm, and if it is caused by a magma intrusion, it is relatively small and deep underground, Einar says.

West Iceland wakes up

While earthquakes and uplift are part of routine activity at Askja volcano, the same is not quite true of West Iceland. In the Langavatn area near Snæfellsnes peninsula, more earthquakes have been detected in the past four months than over the past 12 years. According to Einar, the Met Office has not increased monitoring of the area. No eruption has occurred near Langvatn for over a millennium, and eruptions there have historically been small.

Switches Parties Two Weeks After Election

MP Birgir Þórarinsson, who won a seat for the Centre Party in Iceland’s parliamentary election last month, announced on Saturday that he has defected to the Independence Party. Birgir stated that Centre Party members carried out an “organised attack” against him during the election campaign and that his disagreements with the party stretch back to the Klaustur scandal of 2018. While the Independence Party has welcomed Birgir into its ranks, others have accused him of deceiving voters.

Centre Party down to two seats

Birgir announced his decision to leave the Centre Party and join the Independence Party in a column published in Morgunblaðið newspaper on October 9. His move leaves the Centre Party with just two seats in Alþingi, and the Independence Party, already the largest party in the chamber, with 17 of the total 63 seats.

“Well, this stretches back, all the way back to my criticism of the so-called Klaustur scandal, and the reaction I received to that, but I was fully willing to let these thing go,” Birgir told RÚV. The situation changed this year, however. “When we are getting coordinated for the election, an organized attack is literally launched against me during the election campaign and it continues into the election itself.”

Former colleagues cite “backstabbing”

It is rare for politicians to switch parties so shortly after an election, and Birgir’s decision has had mixed reactions from the public as well as his colleagues. Karl Gauti Hjaltason, Centre Party chairman in the Southwest constituency, described Birgir’s decision as backstabbing and wondered how he had been able to campaign for the Centre Party if he felt so badly over an incident that happened three years ago. Centre Party Chairman criticised Birgir for campaigning “under false pretences” and subverting democracy. He added that he considered it peculiar of Birgir to join a party that he had criticised harshly in the past – and that former Centre Party Deputy MP Erna Bjarnadóttir had followed Birgir in the move to the Independence Party.

Pledges to stand behind campaign issues

Independence Party Chairman Bjarni Benediktsson welcomed Birgir to the party in a Facebook post published on Saturday. Birgir says that despite his shift in allegiance, he will not abandon the issues he has fought for in the past. “I campaigned on certain promises and I have certain ideals and issues I speak for in Parliament, and promises to voters in the election campaign, and I will, of course, work to advance those issues and I intend to stand wholeheartedly behind them,” he stated.

The day after his column was published in Morgunblaðið, Birgir appeared in an interview on Christian radio network Lindin. In the interview, he praised his former colleagues in the Centre Party for giving him free rein to speak with “Christian values.” Notably, he expressed disappointment in his new party members who voted in support of an abortion bill that was passed in 2019.