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Valley of Shadows 2017

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About the Valley of Shadows 💬

VALLEY OF SHADOWS is a new generation gothic film inspired by Scandinavian tales...

Between the sea and the mountains in a small village in Norway, 6-year-old Aslak (Adam Ekeli) lives with his mother Astrid (Kathrine Fagerland). A tragic event occurs that Aslak can't quite understand and Astrid struggles to handle. Aslak's friend shows him a macabre scene; three half-eaten sheep killed in the forest on a full moon night.

In a quest for answers, Aslak ventures into the menacing forest behind his house. Is what happens on his journey merely a boy's imagination or is it a reality?


In a worn down house on the Norwegian countryside, six-year-old Aslak lives a simple modest life with his distant and absent mother. Their tranquillity becomes muddled when the sheep that graze the fields next to the mountains mysteriously become victims of macabre ravages. The tragic events lead Aslak to embark on a dramatic journey into the very depth and darkness of the forest - an odyssey whose boundaries float between dream, fable, and reality. A grotesque, distorted, gloomy and beautiful landscape that unfolds in illusion and realism at the same time.

VALLEY OF SHADOWS is the feature film debut for director Jonas Matzow Gulbrandsen, in close partnership with cinematographer and brother Marius Matzow Gulbrandsen.


I've always wanted to make a movie that is a reflection of a child's mind and perspective. In the VALLEY OF SHADOWS, I wanted to go all the way, meaning a feature film where everything is experienced through the eyes of a six-year-old boy. The child's thoughts and reflections are beautiful and fascinating. Aslak is a boy who is on the cusp of becoming conscious of himself and his surroundings. At that particular age, the boundaries between reality, dream, and imagination tend to blend. Nevertheless, I never intended the film be set in a universe imbued with magic realism. It was crucial that the ambiguity of what is reality or not to always be there. That is why it so enchanting to make a story that mirrors a child's universe.

The project has gone through a number of developments since I first began to play with the idea in 2004. The crucial thing was to keep the film subtle and to leave the pictures - not the dialogue - to carry the action. Everything is primarily based on feelings, which I try to describe - and how I can best describe - this feeling with images. Aslak seeks affection and understanding - something his absent mother fails to provide him. To compensate for this, Aslak finds someone in his inner world who understands his existential dilemmas. This was my starting point as a visual story for VALLEY OF SHADOWS.


I will describe VALLEY OF SHADOWS as a nightmarish version of the fairy tale ''Peter and the Wolf''. I've always been attracted to stories with archetypal motifs and figures, and this particular fable resonates and has followed both Marius and me since our childhood. Mythologies and adventures are often coming-of-age tales that are deeply solemn with underlying morals. I am more interested in authors like Mircea Eliade, Jung, Campbell and Bruno Bettelheim. Growing up in the middle of the Norwegian Bible Belt may have had an indirect influence on me as well, considering my fascination by the Gothic. As a matter of fact, the Scandinavian Gothic may have been the most important source of inspiration: nature describing the disturbed inner lives of the characters who find themselves under psychological stress; mystery and ambiguity set in a landscape that unfolds in illusion and reality at the same time.

Valley of Shadows Movie Details 🎥

Directed by

Jonas Matzow Gulbrandsen

Writing Credits

Jonas Matzow Gulbrandsen

Clement Tuffreau


Adam Ekeli

Kathrine Fagerland

John Olav Nilsen

Lennard Salamon

Jørgen Langhelle

Jone Hope Larsen

Music by

Zbigniew Preisner

Cinematography by

Marius Matzow Gulbrandsen

Genres: Drama, Mystery

Country: Norway

Valley of Shadows Official Trailer

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