Songs of Earth — Fedrelandet

The music of Mother Nature

Songs of Earth

Official film poster: Speranza Films / Strand Releasing

John Smistad
Olympia, Wash.

Synopsis: What does it mean to be connected to nature?  An octogenarian father knows and enlightens us while he shows his daughter in the beautiful and engaging documentary Songs of Earth from 2023. We follow in his footsteps into the mountain home where he grew up, into nature’s smallest life and out to jaw-dropping panoramas in this magnificent production by Margreth Olin. Liv Ullmann and Wim Wenders are co-executive producers.  

My review:

As I watched the quietly riveting documentary Songs of Earth, I was almost immediately struck by this thought: I am effectively watching my own father.

For were my Norwegian-born dad still living in his native land, I can fully imagine he would be doing what we watch the focus of this remarkable film doing.

Jørgen Mykløen, 85 years young, hikes throughout the majestic mountains that tower above the village of Olden, nestled for generations in the Oldedalen valley along a fjord in western Norway. I easily envision my pop, powering on strong at 93, giving Jørgen a run for his money through the snow, rain, and blustery winds inherent among this startling natural beauty—the kind of which most of us can only dream about.

Margreth Ohlin

Photo: Agneta Brun
Margreth Olin is the writer, director, and producer of Songs of Earth.

Songs of Earth was obviously  a genuine labor of love on behalf of Margreth Olin, renowned filmmaker and expert editor.  This is not merely a figure of speech, either, for she is the daughter of Jørgen and his wife, Magnhild. Olin clearly, and deeply, both admires and reveres her parents. This is a couple, decades-wed, who authentically appear more utterly enamored with each other as each precious day passes.

I saw Songs of Earth with The Norwegian American’s editor-in-chief, Lori Ann Reinhall, at the Seattle International Film Festival (SIFF).  After the film, she and I talked about the wonder we just had the true pleasure of sharing. We discussed how the film impresses upon the viewer the seasons of the year mirroring the stages of human life. Ostensibly, our own “seasons,” and how, even as those phases begin and end, we don’t have to lose our sense of marvel. Of appreciation. Of joy.

Sonsgs of Earth

Photo: Speranza Films / Strand Releasing
The seasons of nature and the seasons of life are predominant themes in the film.

Each and every time that Jørgen drinks of timeless rapture, immersed in the glorious works of God’s natural splendor, this is exactly what we see illuminated in the touchingly expressive face of this radiant soul. Still.

Songs of Earth was most deservedly Norway’s entry for Best International Feature Film at last year’s Oscar Awards and has won numerous awards at film festivals all over the world.

Lori Ann and I put in our votes at SIFF. It is a unique film about a very special, Norwegian way of life—a must-see for all Norwegian Americans.

To read more about Songs of Earth and for information on where you may be able to see it at a cinema near you, visit:

See the official film trailer:

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John Smistad

John Smistad is a published author of short stories, poems, essays, and movie reviews. He lives and loves with his family and cat in the Puget Sound area of Washington state. He is the fiercely proud son of a native Norwegian dad. (He loves his mom, too.) You can follow him as on his blog at