Investigation into the Invisible World

Director: Jean Michel Roux
Screenwriters: Jean Michel Roux

Institute History

  • 2004 Sundance Film Festival


Most people in Iceland believe in "hidden beings"—the kind of from-the-beyond entities ridiculed in less isolated, science-obsessed parts of the West. Perhaps because of its location at the juncture of the American and European tectonic plates, or the Icelandic church's openness to pagan traditions, these descendents of Nordic conquerors and Irish slaves heartily acknowledge the numinous realm. On this largest of all volcanic islands, home to only 283,000, clairvoyants and mediums tap into the frequencies of elves, ghosts, and a variety of nature spirits and learn profound lessons.

With utter respect for its subject, Investigation into the Invisible World digs into the supernatural in a country where it consistently erupts into the mundane. The film's supreme artistry, which showcases Iceland's breathtaking topography and dramatic light and employs haunting, evocative soundscapes, simulates an alternate reality and lends insight into the Icelandic soul. Children and adults relate stories of elf friends, sea-monster sightings, or ghost communication. A public-works bureaucrat explains that mediums are hired as go-betweens with the spirit world when boulders are moved at construction sites. A police officer remembers a time when women emerged pregnant from visits to the elves' rocks. Even former president Finnbogadottir says, "No one has proven the existence [of invisible beings], but no one has proven the existence of God, either."

— Caroline Libresco

Screening Details

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