Gåte Hemnarsverdet

Gåte – Hemnarsverdet


A stranger arrives at a gathering of people with a serious errand.

He’s looking for the man who took the life of his father. Faced with his father’s murderer the stranger begs his sword for aid in his lethal mission. The sword answers that it must be forged and made much stronger first. When this is done, the stranger swings the sword and kills – not only the murderer, but also all the others present including an infant.

Making the stranger beg the sword to stop in the name of God. The sword stops and says that if he had not mentioned God’s name, the stranger himself would have been killed.

The fact that the sword seemingly acts of its own free will and kills relentlessly, is a telling expression of how much damage blood revenge could cause, and that only the word of God has the power to put an end to this savagery.

Gåtes song is based on a written version of this tale from 1853.

In the video the stranger seeking revenge is dressed in black, while the murderer is dressed in white. Soon a battle commences between the two men, starting off with Halling, a traditional Norwegian folk dance, before they fight to death.

Though the deadly outcome of the dance may seem farfetched in this day and age, the reality was quite different back when Hemnarsverdet was sung far and wide.

In fact, in the 18th century more than 50 killings were recorded as a result of battels between Halling dancers. Which may also explain why some of the songs from this era also depicts Halling and Halling music as sinful and dangerous activities, where you were likely to be lured into sinful actions or alliances with the Devil.

Credits: Produced and shot by Ragnarok Film

Producer and director: Ole Fredrik Wannebo

Photo: Arne Vidar Stoltenberg, Toni Kotka

Production assistants: David Hortman Bøe, Noah Myren, Philipp Karluss

Cut: Toni Kotka

Grade: Arne Vidar Stoltenberg

Dancers: Ådne Kolbjørnshus Håkon Håvelsrud Odden

Thank You to: Sverresborg Trøndelag Folkemuseum, Valkyrien Productions, Helmet Films & Visual Effects, Nora Eklo & Olai Wanvik

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