Rams (Hrutar) (2015)

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Released 17-Aug-2016

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Comedy / Drama Theatrical Trailer
Trailer-x 4 for other Palace Films releases
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 2015
Running Time 88:49
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 1,2,3,4,5,6 Directed By Grímur Hákonarson

Madman Entertainment
Starring Sigurdur Sigurjousson
Theodor Juliusson
Charlotte Boving
Gunnar Jonsson

Case Amaray-Transparent
RPI ? Music Atli Orvarsson

Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None Icelandic Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
Icelandic Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.35:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English (Burned In) Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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Plot Synopsis

     Gummi (Sigurdur Sigurjousson) and Kiddi (Theodor Juliusson) are elderly brothers living alone on adjacent farms in a windswept valley in Iceland where they both breed award winning sheep. Gummi is the quiet, reflective type, Kiddi the more outgoing, aggressive brother who likes a drink, or three. Despite the close proximity of their houses, however, the brothers have not spoken to each other for 40 years, the only communication between them being messages carried by Kiddi’s sheepdog.

     As Rams (original title Hrutar) opens Gummi’s best ram comes in second to one of Kiddi’s at the annual local breeder’s contest, something it seems is not unusual. Piqued, Gummi examines Kiddi’s ram and comes to believe that it is carrying a highly infectious disease called scrapie (the sheep equivalent to mad cows’ disease) and reports his suspicions to the local agricultural authorities. When Kiddi’s ram is examined Gummi is proved right, but the result is that the authorities order all the sheep in the valley to be killed; although compensation is available, the farmers cannot buy new sheep and continue farming for two years, badly affecting all their livelihoods. Kiddi reacts violently, refusing to comply, and when his sheep are impounded and culled he blames Gummi and turns to the bottle even more. But Gummi has a strategy for saving their livelihoods which may just force the brothers to talk to each other again after 4 decades.

     Rams is a delightful, light hearted yet natural film about sibling rivalry, secrets, authority, isolation and sheep. It is wryly funny and thoughtful but with a sense of hurt and sadness and the writing is intelligent, the acting natural. It is unusual in this age where most things are about youth to find a film where the principal cast members are two bearded, somewhat dishevelled, 60 year olds but both Sigurdur Sigurjousson and Theodor Juliusson are fascinating to watch. Neither have a lot to say during the film but Sigurjousson, as the thinker of the two brothers, is totally natural and realistic; his interactions with the sheep look genuine and his thoughts and concerns play out in his eyes and expressions, especially as his plans are unravelling. The Icelandic landscape is also a character. The bare windswept hills, the snows of winter or the farm houses and barns dwarfed by the bleak environment are beautifully presented in their widescreen glory by director of photography Sturla Brandth Grovlen and although Arri Alexa digital cameras were used anamorphic lenses were employed to give a soft but film like depth to the frame.

     Rams, which won the Un Certain Regard prize at Cannes in 2015, is a delightfully entertaining, whimsical, shaggy sheep story.

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Transfer Quality


     Rams is presented in the original aspect ratio of 2.35:1 and is 16x9 enhanced.

     The print is great, doing justice to Sturla Brandth Grovlen’s stunning widescreen photography of the bleak landscape. The image is softish but fine detail is very good, the beards, wrinkles on faces, waving grasses or the fleece clearly showing. Colours are natural but muted, with grey skies, blacks are solid and shadow detail good. Brightness and contrast were consistent, skin tones natural.

     I did not see any marks or artefacts.

    The white English subtitles are burnt in. They were easy to read and error free.

     The layer change was not noticeable.

Video Ratings Summary
Shadow Detail
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts


     Audio is Icelandic Dolby Digital 5.1 at 448 Kbps although an alternative Icelandic Dolby Digital 2.0 at 224 Kbps is available through the remote (it is not shown on the menu, which only features play film and extras).

     The audio is appropriate for this kind of film. Dialogue is clear and centred and the surrounds don’t get a lot of use until the climax but do add music, the wind, baas, the crash of sheep hooves in the basement and engines, including some panning effects. Gunshots are deep and the wind during the storm in the climax fills the room. The subwoofer was mainly utilised for the storm.

     The score by Atli Orvarsson used cello, double bass, piano, accordion and taglharpa (a Scandinavian four stringed lyre played with a bow) to good effect.

     Lip synchronisation was fine.

Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use


Theatrical Trailer (2:02)

More from Palace Films

     Trailers for Looking for Grace (2:14), Leviathan (1:50), Far from Men (1:51) and Kumiko, the Treasure Hunter (2:18).

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

     Only a DVD is being released here in Region 4 by Madman. Reviews of the DVDs released in other regions are scarce but the Region A US Blu-ray release of Rams includes a short interview with the director (4:44) and Wrestling (22:23), a short film by the director. The Region B UK Blu-ray has the same short film but adds a BFI Q&A with the director (30:45). If the DVDs include the same extras as the Blu-ray, the UK release looks the best bet.


     Quite a number of foreign films have been shot in Iceland; Flags of Our Fathers and Oblivion spring to mind, but I can remember only a couple of films being released here that are set in Iceland and made by Icelanders, such as Noi the Albino or Jar City. Now we get Rams, a welcome addition, an unusual and beautifully filmed and acted story that will be enjoyed by anyone interested in World cinema or looking for something different.

     The video and audio are good, but we miss out on the extras available elsewhere.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Ray Nyland (the bio is the thing)
Friday, September 16, 2016
Review Equipment
DVDSony BDP-S580, using HDMI output
DisplayLG 55inch HD LCD. This display device has not been calibrated. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.
Audio DecoderNAD T737. This audio decoder/receiver has not been calibrated.
AmplificationNAD T737
SpeakersStudio Acoustics 5.1

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