“Troll” is a movie meant for the big screen. It’s a matter of shame that we are experiencing this gargantuan and masterful piece of cinema made by Roar Uthaug on our laptops, desktops, or televisions. It is one of the best Kaiju movies of all time, and if you have the means to counter Netflix’s anti-cinema stance, then do so by watching the film on the biggest screen possible, accompanied by the loudest sound system that’s available. Okay, with that out of the way, let’s talk about the movie itself. It begins with a young Nora and her father, Tobias, climbing a hill and apparently witnessing giant Trolls embedded into the mountainscape. 20 years later, we find out that Nora has become a paleobiologist and is examining fossils along the Atlantic Coast in Northwestern Norway. As she makes a monumental discovery, demolition activities in the Dovre Mountains in Hjerkinn awaken a massive creature that kills the workers there as well as the activists. Nora is called to investigate the matter, and the deeper she looks into it, the more she realizes that her father’s “fairytales” are probably true.
Major Spoilers Ahead
The Troll Is Pro-Environment
The explosion in the mountains of Norway and the drilling to make highways and whatnot obviously indicate humanity’s penchant for destroying nature in order to spread out. But when Nora is brought over to the “war room,” where she meets the Prime Minister, the Secretary of Defense, and everyone else who is in charge of dealing with the ongoing situation, we see that it’s located underground. Since the building is equipped with the latest technology, it shows how insensitively these humans have hollowed out parts of the Norwegian landscape just so that they can poison it with electricity, fuel, and concrete. This is in stark contrast to the Troll’s usual surroundings, i.e., the mountains. They are emblematic of any anti-environmental incursion, and, as per Tobias, they’ve been blocking any form of mining for thousands of years. Tobias says that the Nazis used Russian prisoners to build the Nordland Railway but only got to Bodø because “something” prevented them from going further. However, instead of accepting their place in this ecosystem, the humans ran a propaganda campaign against them, portraying the Trolls as mean, idiotic, and evil.
In cinema, Kaijus have personified the consequences of humanity’s anti-Earth activities. A newscaster even refers to the Troll as a Norwegian Godzilla because the original Japanese Godzilla was a metaphor for nuclear weapons, given the backdrop of the nuclear bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, as well as the Lucky Dragon 5 incident. Later interpretations of Godzilla and other Kaijus like it have been antagonistic, protagonistic, or even neutral in nature. In Norse mythology, Trolls are described as unhelpful and unfriendly towards humans, while Scandinavian folklore has portrayed them as slow, dim-witted, man-eating, and vulnerable to sunlight. While Roar Uthaug and Espen Aukan’s iteration takes all of these metaphors into consideration, they also seem to integrate visual artist Thomas Dambo’s use of Trolls as recycled sculptures. As far as I know, Dambo has been working since 2010 and started making Trolls out of scrap wood in 2015. Dambo’s personal lore states that every 211 years, the trolls meet to discuss the state of mankind. And if they are out of line and are endangering the planet, the Trolls take corrective measures. By making these Trolls, Dambo is highlighting the need for humans to stop wasting and start using recyclable and sustainable items on a daily basis. Uthaug’s film delivers the same message but with a little more explosiveness.
The Troll Represents Anti-Christianization Sentiments
During a nighttime assault, Tobias brings up the topic of how the Troll can smell humans with Christian blood and eat them. It is so preposterous (yes, even more, preposterous than a Troll wreaking havoc) that the point kind of slips out of the mind when the army begins to attack the creature. This is also the scene that pretty much cements the fact that the film should have been witnessed on the big screen. The CGI and VFX are immaculate. The color, the cinematography, the sound design, the editing, the SFX, and the action choreography are so goddamn brilliant that you forget that Uthaug actually intends to stick to the lore. That’s why, when the heroes hide alongside a cross-wearing soldier, praying to the Lord for protection, you don’t expect the Troll to choose him exclusively and eat him. But that’s exactly what he does. He doesn’t harm Tobias when he approaches him. He unintentionally kills him when the army starts shooting him. Based on the Troll’s hatred for Christianity, Nora, Kris, and the rest use church bells mounted on helicopters to defeat him. That goes sideways again. However, by saving a child and his father from a falling helicopter, the Troll proves that he doesn’t have a destructive, anti-Norwegian attitude.
As per John Lindow, in Scandinavian culture, Trolls are not the biggest fans of Christianity. That explains their absence in various regions with churches because they don’t like the noise emanating from the bells. The Trolls apparently destroyed churches because of this by hurling boulders and stones, with many claiming any large piece of rock around a church to be a Troll’s work. When it comes to the topic of Christianization, it happened in Scandinavia and other Nordic and Baltic countries between the 8th and 12th centuries. Historians say that it wasn’t forced upon the Scandinavians by foreign states. Instead, it was willingly adopted by the kings of that time. These kings did destroy pagan temples, though, in order to make way for Christianity, which led to uprisings. Paganism ebbed and waned through the years until its end in the 18th century. So, even though Christianity is the largest religion in Norway, it seems like the Troll represents that bygone pagan era. That’s why he is against the union between Norwegians who have converted to Christianity and those who are unconverted, believers in paganism or atheists. But Nora and the others’ efforts to tell him to retreat to the mountains show that the Troll’s anti-Christianization sentiments aren’t relevant anymore. Yes, Christians have a history of violence, slavery, anti-Semitism, and more. However, that’s probably nonexistent in Norway, and the Troll can end up inspiring bigotry where there isn’t any.
‘Troll’ Ending Explained: What Does The Monster’s Conclusion Mean? Does The Mid-Credits Suggest There Are More Trolls?
Governments are inherently anti-human in nature. So, they decide to evacuate Oslo and hit the Troll with nuclear weapons before he reaches the city. Nora and Andreas, on the other hand, look into the person called Rikard Sinding, as his name is mentioned in Tobias’s diary. Andreas says that Sinding lives in the palace of the Lord Chamberlain (the highest official of the Royal Court who provides advice and assistance to the King and the other members of the Royal Family). Nora remembers that his father’s dying words were “Palace,” “home,” and “king.” Upon reaching the palace, Sinding takes Nora and Andreas to an underground cave that is filled with massive bones. The cave was apparently the home of the King of the Trolls (which is the guy who is roaming around Norway), and the Royal Palace was built atop it to assert dominance. It was nearly discovered in 1920 and then again 12 years ago by Tobias. So, Sinding basically admits that the royals fried Tobias’s mind and ruined his life so that no one can believe what he has seen.
Sinding explains that during the Christianization of Norway, Olav the Holy rid the land of anything that wasn’t compatible with the new faith, and that included Trolls. So, he created an ambush for the Trolls and massacred the Mountain King’s family. Olav did keep one alive to lure the King into the mountains of Dovre and then lock him up in the cavern, which is where we meet the King at the beginning of the film. The mid-credits of the film does show another Troll waking up, which can only mean that it’s the King’s child. What is it going to do? Well, my best guess is that it is going to avenge its father’s death. How does its father die? Nora realizes that UV lights do turn the Trolls into stone. That’s why she asks Kris to arrange a lot of UV lights, which they’ll use on the King. To lure the Troll to that spot, Nora and Andreas take one of the skulls, attach it behind a minivan, and make him run after it until they reach their destination. In the meantime, Sigrid (Andreas’s “Star Trek”-loving colleague) accesses the Defense Department’s computer system to stop the airplane from firing the nuke.
Sigrid momentarily succeeds in avoiding the nuke attack, and Nora, Andreas, Kris, and their team manage to trap the Troll in the UV lights. But as the Troll’s skin begins to sizzle, Nora puts a stop to it and pleads with the creature to go back to the mountains. Sadly, before he can make a move, the sun rises in Norway, thereby turning the Troll to stone. He falls to his knees and then onto the ground. Nora shares a tender moment with it and ultimately names the mountain he has created “Tobias Boulder.” It’s a nice way to commemorate the character because Tobias was the only one who believed in the Trolls when no one else did. He is the only person who tried to treat him humanely, while everyone else saw him as a threat. In addition to all that, the Mountain King’s death shows that his journey would’ve ended one day or another when he would’ve stepped out into the sun. Nobody really needed to resort to any kind of violence. More importantly, all this chaos could’ve been avoided if the humans had just used the natural paths for communication instead of carving into the face of the earth. Now that the Norwegians (in the film) have learned that lesson the hard way, we can only hope that they are going to act on it.
“Troll” is a 2022 Drama Action film directed by Roar Uthaug.