Reviewed by: Jennie Kermode

"Kjersti Helen Rasmussen's short film is grown up science fiction, quietly logical."

On September 5, 1977, the first Voyager space probe set out its mission to explore the solar system and beyond. On board was a golden record carrying some of the sights and sounds of Earth together with a map identifying the planet's position in the system. This film opens in what is apparently the present day, in the snowy wasteland outside Svalbard where the Global Seed Vault is located. A streak of light tears through the sky. There's a flash in the distance. Then the seed back receives a strange visitor.

Stella (Siv Torin Knudsen Petersen) finds him in the vault, opening boxes of seeds. She quickly detains him and asks him who he is, where he comes from, why he's there. He shows so little understanding that she comes to believe he must be mentally ill, and perhaps deaf as well. But when her colleague Thomas (Oliander Taule) leaves the two of them alone, his behaviour becomes very unusual indeed.

Copy picture

What could motivate a journey through interstellar space, justify that level of investment? It used to be that aliens in cinema came to Earth for its water. Now we know that water is commonplace throughout the universe. What is unique to individual worlds, and potentially very valuable in terms of what it can make possible, is information. The greatest concentration of information on Earth is in DNA, and if one wishes to sample a lot of it in a place where there's likely to be little opposition, the seed vault seems like an ideal target. Kjersti Helen Rasmussen's short film is grown up science fiction, quietly logical. The fate of humanity is almost incidental. Out amongst these vast, snowy mountains, it's very, very cold.

Clean, crisp photography and a tendency to frame shorts in rigidly geometric ways complement the scientific atmosphere of the vault and the clinical decision-making of its new discoverers. Enok Groven is blank-faced as the stranger affecting human form, hiding behind long hair and a beard. Just occasionally, his eyes convey something of the loneliness of The Man Who Fell To Earth or the protagonist of Under The Skin, but as the latter discovered, inter-species sympathy can be misplaced. What else is coming to Svalbard? What might grow or be assembled there before the outside world noticed? Full of small, disconcerting moments, Voyager will make you shiver.

Voyager screened at Fantasia 2018.

Reviewed on: 31 Jul 2018
Share this with others on...
Voyager packshot
A shooting star falls down over the Arctic island of Svalbard and the Global Seed Vault gets an unexpected visitor.

Director: Kjersti Helen Rasmussen

Writer: Kjersti Helen Rasmussen

Starring: Enok Groven, Siv Torin Knudsen Petersen, Oliander Taule

Year: 2017

Runtime: 8 minutes

Country: Norway


Fantasia 2018

Search database:

If you like this, try:

The Farthest
Wang's Arrival