In A24The latest, a couple’s lives are turned upside down by the bizarre arrival of a lamb-human hybrid. director Valdimar Jóhannsson, works from a script he wrote together with SjónHe makes his feature film debut with a strange but serious Icelandic folk tale that tears your heart apart. Mainly thanks to his precious little lamb child Ada.
Jóhannsson told how this strange fairy tale came about: “I knew Sjón’s work; he knew the Icelandic fairy tale so well and used many elements in his books. We made the creature up because there are no Icelandic folk tales about it. We wanted to work in this mythical world, but try to make it as normal as possible for you to believe. “
To invent the look of Ada, the director would cut and paste together different parts of lambs and humans. “I made a couple of versions of it and thought it was so cute. I thought it was an amazing creature, but it was so fun when I showed it to other people. They thought it was so scary“, Jóhannsson laughed at his collage-like designs for Ada.
Leading actress Noomi Rapace (Prometheus, The girl with the dragon tattoo) took Jóhannsson and the mood book that he had designed for Lamb. It wasn’t just the more grown-up fairytale elements that appealed to her or Maria’s character, but the experience of growing up on a farm. She understood Ada immediately and explained: “I grew up on a farm. When I was growing up we had sheep. It was always the ewe; if she had four lambs, she often refused one. So we had one that my sister and I had to feed and that lived with us. You know, we pretended the lamb was our baby. We had to make sure that the mother didn’t want it. It was almost every summer; there were two or three lambs. They are pretty cruel, the mothers. If something is weaker, they discard it. Or they choose their favorites. “
While Rapace had a lot of experience raising sheep, when it came to giving birth, she had none. The short lamb season window was drawing to a close, meaning Rapace barely had time to get to the set before filming a live birth scene. “The farmer told me what to do. I saw him give birth to a baby before my turn. I thought okay, and I just put my hands in it. “
Rapace explains why she spoke to Maria: “In many Icelandic families, women are the leaders. I would say my grandmother in Iceland; she runs the family. She grew up like many other children, including me. When I was eight or nine we had an Icelandic president and I realized that this was not the reality. She is like the only one in the world. Maria is a doer. She drives the tractor, takes out the lamb, she marks the lambs. Her husband is sitting next to her and is taking notes in a book.
“It’s almost like we’re getting to know her for the first time, she survives, but she isn’t. It’s almost like their life has been put on hold. Then you can feel that she has so much pain in her and that she bears this grief over the loss of her daughter. Then she begins to breathe again as the story progresses. To me it is very much a story about healing, motherhood and a lifelong dream even though you have lost one thing that you cannot lose. “
lamb will be released on October 8, 2021.