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  From page to screen: Jar City  
Icelandic actor Ingvar E. Sigurđsson, winner of the Napapijri Award for Best Performance, reveals the secrets to his work in Jar City.
The essence of polar light hides behind the melancholic notes of the saddest songs by Björk and Sigur Rós. According to Sigurđsson, melancholy and calm are the two essential traits of the Icelandic personality, summed up in the psychology of Inspector Erlendur, the main character of Jar City (Mýrin) and literary hero of a series of novels by Arnaldur Indriđason.

“Indriđason has written eight novels with the Erlendur character, so I had a lot of material to work with in creating my character,” explains Sigurđsson. “He is a man characterized by a great solitude, he lives an isolated life, he has few relationships with other people. He also has a past marked by loss. I wanted to give the character some of the things not mentioned in the film but which have conditioned his life, like the disappearance of his brother in a snowstorm.
“Inspector Erlendur manages to capture the Icelandic character, which is very solitary, closed and calm. A foreigner once told me that it was difficult to get to know an Icelandic person, which is true. I don’t know why but we have a hard time opening up our hearts.”
Ironically, Sigurđsson is surprised when one spectator defines the relationship between even the inspector and his daughter as cold. “This is the first time anyone’s told me [that] about the relationship between father and daughter. I think it’s a strong relationship, emotional and full of love. They may not speak much, but they do communicate. Perhaps you see it this way because the Italian and Icelandic character is very different. Italians speak a lot, we on the other hand are more calm and tranquil.”
Apart from character traits, also of note, naturally, is the film’s noir genre. Icelandic crime drama cinema is still very young and has, above all, a literary influence. Says Sigurđsson: “In the 1980s no one would have found a thriller set in Iceland credible. Indriđason is very well known and popular in our country, and has succeeded in changing this idea with his books. But it’s all just imagination, because not very many crimes take place there – mainly because there are so few of us.”
To be precise: 300,000 inhabitants, whose DNA map, as recounted in the film, was not long ago archived in a database. As Sigurđsson points out, this bioethical question created numerous problems in Iceland:  “There were many people who didn’t agree with the idea because they thought it wasn’t ethical, that it invaded personal privacy. I don’t know the issue very well, but I nevertheless think it’s a great opportunity that could have, for example, positive results on the medical and scientific level.”