What comes to mind when you think of self-reflecting films? Long meditative takes? Wide-angle shots of picturesque locations that evoke a sense of longing and introspection? A loner protagonist whose motives aren’t necessarily clear yet his actions reflect the film’s underlying themes? Well, Hytte (or the Cabin) checks all those boxes.
Hytte (Norwegian for ‘Cabin’) is cinematographer Jean-Louis Schuller’s debut feature as director. Shot with a skeleton crew and released in 2021, this film is the kind of introspective art piece you’re sure to find at a film festival. So how good/bad/boring is it? Read on!
Warning: Spoilers Ahead!
‘Hytte’ Plot Summary
Luc is a man from Luxembourg who’s visiting Svalbard – for unspecified reasons. He is supposed to prepare his home for his 7-year-old daughter Mira to move in with him, but here in Svalbard, he appears to be reveling in all touristy activities, including a drunken binge. After one such binge, he runs into Mike, who tells him that he is planning on moving into a cabin in the isolated Arctic desert in hopes of reconnecting with nature and becoming the strongest man. Fascinated by Mike’s strange decision, Luc sets out searching for Mike, and for whatever it is, Mike himself is searching for.
To know what happens next, watch the movie to find out!
‘Hytte’ Ending Explained
In his search for Mike, Luc runs into Ingrid, a teacher with whom he develops a romantic relationship. Almost instantly, he abandons his life back in Luxembourg and begins to integrate into the Svalbard community, taking up odd jobs and moving in with Ingrid. However, throughout his exploration of this new life, Luc retains the absence of meaning from early on in the film. Of course, he is happy, but there is still something missing.
Ingrid expresses her doubt over Luc’s actions, accusing him of only pretending to be in love with her. However, Ingrid manages to locate the cabin that Luc has been obsessing over, and together they go hiking in search of it. They find the cabin and –
In the last scene, Luc is seen buying wood, presumably to build his own cabin. However, he ends up making a children’s desk for Mira in his home in Luxembourg. So, what does all this suggest? I guess that’s open to interpretation. Perhaps all his soul-searching led Luc to realize that the most meaningful part of his life is Mira, and he must focus on her. Maybe he rejects Mike’s ideas as simply a drunken man’s drivel.
Whatever the conclusion be, it feels a tad bit undercooked. While the whole film was fascinating and an unusual yet familiar experience – especially for film festival frequenters – the filmmaker’s choice of not giving closure (at least not one that is loud and clear) can feel unsatisfying to many viewers.
In conclusion, I’d say it’s definitely worth giving this film a watch. The cinematography and sound render this film an atmospheric experience worth watching on the big screen (if possible). The presentation of Svalbard’s picturesque isolation, coupled with the garnishing of culture alongside a healthy dose of the human condition, makes this film strange yet fascinating, to say the least. The end may be a little unsatisfying, but some movies are worth watching regardless.
Hytte (The Cabin) is a 2021 Norwegian Drama Film directed by debut director Jean-Louis Schuller.