I Am Dina (2002)
Production Company: Northern Lights
Production Company: Nordisk Film
Filming Locations: Bodø, Nordland
Estimated Budget: NOK 141 000 000
Columbia TriStar Film Distributors International
Northern Norway, the 1860s. In the laundry room of her family's manor house, little Dina involuntarily causes a ghastly accident and at one stroke, loses both her mother (August) and the love of her father (Floberg). Overwhelmed by grief, Dina's father cannot bear the sight of his little girl and she is hidden away to be looked after by the household servants. She rapidly becomes unruly - a wild creature, unwilling to speak and unable to read. Her only playmate is the stable boy, Tomas, but he is no match for headstrong, fearless Dina.
Seeing the child in her feral state, a kind family friend, Jacob (Depardieu) pleads with Dina's father to do something and a tutor, Lorch (Søren Saetter-Lassen) is hired to bring Dina back to civilisation. The little girl is gradually drawn out of her isolation by a passion for the cello and Lorch's devotion but she remains as obstinate and unpredictable as ever. Relations with her father are frosty and Dina continues to comfort herself by conjuring up her mother's ghost, fantasising about joining her lost parent in the spirit world.
Years pass and Dina grows into a beautiful young woman (Bonnevie). She remains wilful and peculiar but her father's friend Jacob is smitten. In spite of the difference in their ages and against the misgivings of the girl's own father, he weds Dina and brings her to Reinsnes, the costal trading post he runs with his elderly mother, Karen (Wenche Foss) and his two stepsons, Niels (Mads Dittmann Mikkelsen) and Anders (Jørgen Langhelle). After a shaky start, Jacob discovers that his young bride's voracity extends to everything life has to offer. Elated but exhausted, he begins to question whether Dina's lust for life will not be the death of him.
The younger stepson, Anders, and Jacob's mother, Karen, are kind to the new mistress of Reinsnes, overlooking her eccentricities and her unladylike habits. The elder stepson, Niels, on the other hand, has ideas of his own regarding Jacob's fortune and his own position in the family business. He doesn't approve of the new mistress.
Dina has a head for figures and gradually takes over the accounting at Reinsnes. To Niels' disgust, Jacob encourages her interest in his financial affairs, even taking her along on a business trip to Bergen. Jacob laughs when his fellow traders are scandalised by his young wife's cigar-smoking and tough talk at the negotiating table, but even he is shaken when Dina insists that they stop to watch the public execution of an enemy of the state. A face in the crowd spots Dina: it is the enigmatic Leo (Eccleston) who will continue to reappear at dramatic moments in her life before finally changing it once and for all.
Worn down by Dina's obsessive sexuality and her late-night music making, Jacob seeks comfort and a moment's peace - in the home of an undemanding local widow. While repairing her leaking roof, Jacob falls and breaks his leg. The circumstances of his accident are not hidden from Dina but she insists on taking Jacob home to care for him at Reinsnes. As his condition worsens and Jacob's death seems imminent, Dina takes matters into her own hands. She knows how to make certain that he will never, ever leave her.
Dina does not attend Jacob's funeral. Instead, she shuts herself in her room, behaving like a savage and refusing to speak, just as she did all those years ago. Again, it is Tomas who comes to comfort her, only this time (at her insistence and to his amazement) as her lover.
Jacob has joined her mother in that other world and like Gertrude, he appears to Dina as a ghost. He has not left her.
Niels is determined to find Jacob's will and wrest control of the estate from his father's strange, young widow but Dina ends her mourning and resumes her duties as head of Reinsnes. Unlike everyone else, she seems unaware of her pregnancy and refuses to hear any reference to it. When she runs away to give birth in the woods, Tomas once again comes to Dina's rescue. Although she denies it, he is convinced the child must be his.
Over the violent objections of Dina's father, the boy is christened Benjamin without any regard for the convention of giving a first child a family name. Insult is added to injury when Dina lashes out at her stepmother, Dagny. The family is further offended when Dina, who has no time for infants, quickly turns the baby over to a wet nurse, Stina, an unmarried Laplander who has recently lost her own child. But no one dares to argue with Dina and Stina gradually makes a home for herself at Reinsnes, raising Benjamin as if he were her own. Predictably, as the boy grows up, he becomes fiercely attached to the less than motherly Dina.
A fire in the barn at Reinsnes brings ashore a party from a ship moored in the fjord near the estate. A stranger appears on the scene and throws himself into the rescue effort. This is the mysterious Russian, Leo Zjukovskiij, who has an almost hypnotic effect on the mistress of Reinsnes. Dina and Leo lead the rescue party into a night of revelry.
Leo leaves with a promise to return and Dina is thrown into turmoil with the arrival of a cello belonging to her beloved tutor, Lorch. A melancholy spirit has returned to the trading post. When Dina discovers that Stina is pregnant with Niels' child, she is in no mood for compromise: either Niels can marry the woman he raped and give the child a name or he must leave Reinsnes forever. Dina knows that Niels has long been stealing from the estate.
Again, Leo comes to Reinsnes and Dina hopes that this time, he will stay. Niels gives in to Dina's threat and proposes to Stina. He is horrified when she refuses and drinking himself into a rage, he kills himself. When Leo leaves again, Dina gives herself to Tomas. She later infuriates the lovesick stable hand by suggesting that he should marry Stina.
Dina's father tells her that he knows where she can find her Russian: he is behind bars, accused of plotting to overthrow the government. She goes to Bergen, certain that she can secure Leo's release but is only allowed a brief visit before she is brutally ejected from the prison. Travelling home on the boat with Anders, Dina miscarries and almost dies. She returns to Reinsnes determined: if Leo should come back, she will make sure that he never, ever leaves her again.
But Leo does come back and he presents Dina with a challenge of his own: to take her place in the land of the living and to love and be loved in return.
Film Crew Based in Western Norway
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