While I’m not particularly interested in the geography of Norwegian cinema – unless and until my Fulbright application to University of Bergen is successful – Troll Hunter finds room for three Tom Conley in Cartographic Cinema style scenes featuring maps that drive my reading of the film.

First of all, the film is a wonderful through-the-windscreen travelogue of Norway.

Then there’s the film’s eminently sensible way of explaining why Hans would open up to the student film crew: a troll hunter’s working conditions are for shit. And even the non-dangerous stuff is soul-crushing in a Scandinavian bureaucracy run amok kind of way.

For my purposes, Troll Hunter’s use of maps rhymes nicely with the film’s Cloverfield Troll Project aesthetic. Going back into the fairy-tale past – Troll Hunter frequently returns to questions of fairy tales not matching the real nature of trolls – demands reference to an older sort of map.As Mike Peterson explained to me recently, the vast majority of topographical maps that we use today are the product of hand-tracing in the pre-digital cartography era. Accordingly, in the build up to the film’s final showdown, Hans busts out a standard-issue paper topographical map of Dovre:

On their way to Dovre, Hans and the film crew visit a power station, where they are shown a map of the area the station powers, once again on a paper topographical map:

All of this makes sense, because the maps that Hans has already shown the film crew are similarly paper-based topographical maps:

This may seem hardly worth noting, but Troll Hunter is set in the present day of its release, 2010. Student journalists have digital cameras; Hans texts his supervisor at TSS. It is a world with google earth. For a film with a shady government agency, cross-country tracking of prey, and a bunch of Big Scary Monsters that threaten Our Way of Life, Troll Hunter assiduously avoids the usual Hollywood genre conventions of, most notably, lots of CGI, but also of the high-tech HQ full of digital maps, like in the Bourne movies (which still feel compelled to include a paper map, like a security blanket).

But instead, like the film itself, something more self-consciously “hand-made” appears most powerfully not as the CG trolls, but in Hans’ obsessively annotated troll maps.

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