Campaigners believed theyd aimed the Norwegian seal hunting. But then two young filmmakers reignited a nations interest in the tradition. Ruaridh Nicoll reports
Theres not a lot of verse in killing seals not in the rifle shooting , nor in the swing of the infamous sealers club, the hakapik , not in the blood on the ice. But theres poetry into the sea. In Sealers: One Last Hunt , a Norwegian documentary film about the end of a way of life that is anathema to most of us in Europe, a group of hunters leap between the floes as the pack ice rises and falls on vast Atlantic swells, a scene that stays with the spectator like a song.
The hunters are returning to the Havsel, or Ocean Seal, a 33 m icebreaker out of Alta at the tip-off of Norway. Its hold is filled with the skins, petroleum and meat of more than 1,000 harp seals. The captain, perched in a tiny cockpit at the upper part of the foremast from which he can steer the ship, is Bjrne Kvernmo. Tall and watchful, he is 64 years old and, like a famous tennis player who shares his first name, he prefers a headband.
Later, when I gratified him, he tells me that jumping between the floes is a young person game. The ships carpenter confirms this, pertaining the story of a human who slipped between the closing ice sheets and had all the flesh stripped from his leg, adding: But the nightmare is to be caught beneath.
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