Halfway to Haugesund (1997) - full transcript

Beat up punk rock legend Otto, of "Otto's Speedway Action Organ", finally gets another gig in Haugesund on Norway's west coast. He gets his father's car, a 1969 model Opel Diplomat, out of hock, and proceeds to drive from Oslo to Haugesund. But he never gets to Haugesund. In Telemark, in Norway's heartland, he meets up with Pakistani "roots researcher" Farida. Who, complete with a broad Telemark accent, a Telemark surname, a cellular phone, and a laptop computer, makes a business out of finding Norwegian relatives in Telemark, for Americans desperately searching for roots. His car gets stolen by locals lusting for its Chevy V8 engine, and he ends up with an old Chevy Impala, traveling the labyrinths of roads that make up Telemark.

It's hell not to have
a car in Telemark.

No, I must redo this.

It's hell to have
a car in Telemark.

That was at least what
Otto Staalesen experienced.

He owns an old Opel Diplomat.
A 1969 model in mint condition. Yep!

Had it not been for that car, Otto
would probably still be on his way.

But now he's been totally lost
for over a year.

Why do I sit here in thickest Telemark
and keep thinking of Otto?

Why do I type his name and
get his face up on the screen?

Do I really sit here
having a bad conscience?

Not my fault that he
got lost in Telemark.

He could've stayed in Oslo,
where he belongs.

And it was at least not my fault
he answered the phone that day.


Yeah, it's me.

Otto's Speedway Action Organ

Hm? Yesterday?
No, listen...

Isn't today yesterday, then?
I mean, relax...

I'll be in Haugesund in
a few hours. Okay, bye.

Damn stress...

People calling in the middle of the day!
It must be a different time zone there.

Funny having a comeback at my age.
It's like starting at the bottom again.

When you start at the bottom,
it can only go one way!

And that's straight west!

Strictly speaking, Haugesund is just
a stopover on the way to New York.

Otto has, of course, not been thinking
of walking all the way to Haugesund.

He has surely thought
of driving the Diplomat.

But his father pawned it
before he died.

So now the car is stuck,
and Otto is broke as usual.

The Diplomat is my
patrimony, dammit!

I have the legal right to it.
It's no problem.

I'll just go right in and tell
fatso to deliver the car to me.

Get yourself together!
-Has your old man...

got his finances in order? -Not quite,
but I have a job in Haugesund,

so you'll get the
money on Monday.

It's very important for me!
Oh, come on! I'm in a hurry!

You'll get no bargain here!
-I didn't ask for a bargain, I just...

Look here...

Can't you take this as a deposit?
It's a Rolex.

A Rolex!


...which are used in Telemark,
and are thoroughly hand made shoes.

But high-heeled patent
leather shoes, I don't like.

But can't we be national in the middle
and urban on both ends?

Yes, I think that was
a very fine, eh...

...full investigation of 55-year-old Per
Gunter, who's been lost for over a week.

Per Gunter travelled from Lillehammer
to visit his family in Stavanger.

The first witness reports of him were
made in Morgedal, Telemark, August 1st,

says Anders Andenes at
Lillehammer police station, to NRK.

Good day, my name is Amund Fisjord
and I am mayor here in Notodden,

and on behalf of myself and all Notodden,
I wish you a very good vacation.

Grocery stores, clothes stores,
shoe stores, sport shops,

newspapers, magazines,
and online.

2 km outside Notodden
on highway 11, to the west coast.

Otto must've wanted to ask for the way
to Haugesund, but there was nobody to ask.

Not a Goddamn hillbilly in sight.

No one to ask about the way.

At this hour,
no Telemarkers are home.

Not at work either.
They have other things to do.

They're not going anywhere,

they just enjoy themselves
cruising around at a crawl.

It's in perfect harmony
with their slow life-rhythm.

If there's anything a Telemarker really
can do, it's to pass the time.

Do you know if it's far
to Haugesund?

Oh, you're in a hurry?

You should take the shortcut
through Jommersdal then.

Yes, I think that's the best.

You just drive the European Highway
until you reach a sharp turn.

Then it goes a bit upwards
and then it goes downhill to Flatdal.

Well, this you'll see, you know,
everything is flat there!

Hallvard Flatland
comes from there.

But you must just drive downhill till
you come to Nute. Turn off there.

H?ydalsmo and Rauland it says on a sign.
That's the shortest way. Drive that way.

Tommy Ekman,
what's that?

It's Swedish,
something like Svenskebandet.

Right, yeah.
That won't be of interest.

I'll take that one.
-Draumkvedet? -Yeah.

Opel, I see?
-Yes, Opel Captain, '61 model...

that we have restored
and fixed up here.

And used parts from
a wreck back here.

It was involved in a fatal
accident around Haugesund.

So we used different parts on this one
and now we consider ourselves finished.

And I suppose the results aren't so bad?
-So it's a real ghostrider, this then?

Yeah, I guess you can say that.

H?ydalsmo and Rauland
it says on a sign... or two.

Yes, right...

We'll have to check
the map here, I guess.

Let's see...

Who is it that's torn up
the mapbook in the Opel?

Could it be his father?

Well, I don't know.
And for Otto it doesn't matter,

as long as he gets
to Haugesund.

A damsel in distress!

Poor little one...

I better lay a bit low.

If she finds out I'm a musician,
she'll probably go crazy.

A superannuated punk rocker from Oslo
was kind of the last thing I expected.

But I needed transportation, so I
couldn't exactly be picky either.

Were you not on the way to Rauland?

That's right west, over the marsh.
Are you from Oslo?

Well, south or west will be
the same now anyway.

Can't you just drive southwards?
I'll show you the way. -Jump in.

If the engine in the Mazda hadn't broke
down, I'd have never been standing here.

I would probably never
have met Otto.

I saw at ones that the
Diplomat are from the '60s,

but I don't think Otto knew
what treasure he drove around with.

Tell me, is the shortcut to Haugesund?
-Yes, if you'd had a map you'd see it.

Do you have a map, then?
-No, I'm from here.

Yes, it's quite pretty here.

Like a mix between
The Shining and Deliverance.

Mikkel Staalesen?
A Kongsvinger name, isn't it?

That's my father!

In 1969 when he bought this car,
it was just shit cool.

The coolest thing from
the Germans since Terboven.

Do you wanna come
with me to Haugesund?

No, no... that'll have to be
some other time.

There's a pretty nice room
at the Hotel Norge there.

And... I need
a groupie, you know.

Otto's Speedway Action Organ!

You're not going over the
mountains today? -No, why?

Aren't you going to Haugesund then?
-Yes, but I'll take the main highway.

Yes, but that's over Haukeli Mountain,
you know. -Haukeli Board? Ah, yes, sure!

It's closed now anyway, so you won't get
across it. -Is Haukeli Board closed?

We'll have to take the Hardanger Splinter
instead then. -Yeah, but...

if you have to get to Haugesund today,
you better drive around.

Drive down to Dalen, through ?mli and
then to Evje. -Nah, that's not good.

No, but it's the only
option you have.

Really, you think so?

I'll show you, I'm going the same way.
-Yeah, why not!

Roots Research, Farida.

What are you doing then?

Roots Research?
Right, yes, uhm, I see...

Yes, and Hege, she had
to leave in '70, right?

Yes, I guess she had to.

Could your great-grandfather then
have left together with her?

Yes, that's possible.

Well, don't you think so?
-Yes... I suppose so.

I've talked to people who say
he came back again,

right before the turn of century.
-Yes, that might be.

Do you know who
his father was?

Was he the priest in L?rdalen,
or the boy in Midtgarden?

The priest.
-From Midtgarden.

Let me take some
photos of you.

And now, turn that way.

Pretty smart of you... running a
kind of complete Mengele package

with skull-drilling eye colors, and the
whole thing... like some space boogers.

Can you prove anything with it, or?
-Not "prove", it's not about that...

I just make use of it as a tool.
What really counts here is

to have all the church books,
censuses and things like that.

All those things I keep on the
hard disk, and then I cross-check it.

I guess there's some money to grab
on such a stunt. -It's not a stunt!

I don't trick them. My clients get
exactly what they pay for.

They collect roots, I simply give them
relatives. I give them an identity!

You... turn left here please.

Everyone from Telemark can't
be related. Hottentot, Eskimos,

Mandarins, Pygmies, Swedes and...
-Yeah, why not?

Must look at the big picture, you know?
- Right, yeah.

You mean Adam and Eve
came from Drangeda?

Jesus and Mary from Jomfruland?
Funny theory.

Hey, can you turn right here?

I'm just going to collect some
information up there, you see.

Can I borrow your
phone for a moment?

Yes, right through that door
and on the left.

-Hm? Otto, an organist.

Organist, you say?

I just heard the Polish guy who plays at
the hotel is ill and needs a substitute.

He's on his way to Haugesund,
but the mountain road is closed,

so he had to go through Evje.
-Farida... -Hm?

You see, Haukeli Mountain
was snowed over last night,

so I have to take
a trip down to Evje.

Yes... I'm in the middle
of Telemark right now.

Pretty fed up,
hopeless situation anyway...

What? Don't you believe me?
Listen to this then, silence...

Did you hear that?
Hello... hello? Damn it!

I won't go with you to Haugesund.
-I don't need you either.

You don't feel like
you're being fooled?

They close the mountain in
the summer too, you know?

And you set yourself up for it, really.
-Oh, yes, it suits me perfectly.

I was thinking of going
to Dalen anyway.

But where do you think you're going, then?
-I'm not going any further, I guess.

-Yes, here.

Like to borrow the phone?
-No, thanks.

Bye, then.

I think it was an advantage
for Otto to drive in the dark.

Then nobody could look
closer at the Diplomat.

Under the hood there was hidden
a Chevrolet engine. A real V8.

Driving around with this sought-after
collector's item in Telemark

is something you do
at your own risk.

My God! What is this
thing doing here?

Hey! What are you doing here?

Didn't you see the sign down there?
It says "Am-cars only". This is an Opel.

You have no business here.
-Can't go on like this,

or it'll be a Lada next!
-Get rid of it, get it out of here!

Won't it start? -It won't start!
-Get up the hood, come on!

Come on then, get it up!

Hey shit, a Chervolet!

We could probably help you fix it.

Well, that would be damn great.
-We can take it down to B? on a trailer.

Hey, Andre? It's okay that we
help this guy, right? -Sure.

We'll do that, we'll bring it
down and fix it for you.

Do you think it'll be expensive?
-No, no, we'll do it cheap.

This we can do, it's our hobby.
We have parts in our garage.

We don't have to order anything.
-Great, that's real nice of you.

There's a real carburetor here...

If there's anything the Am-car boys
really now, it's how to cruise.

They glide resistanceless
through the landscape,

with accurate clearance
between the cars...

so that no one else
can get in between.

Elements from other cultures, like
rice-burners and German trolley cars,

must never sneak in and pollute
this perfect Telemark image.

Did Otto reflect on how
strange it was that his

German trolley car was allowed
to participate in the cruising?

Maybe he sensed something.
But Otto just sat there,

thinking about his
empty bank account.

If he couldn't pay for the repairs,
he'd probably never get out of Telemark.

Can you stop at the post office?
I need some money.

That'll be tricky. We're driving
together down to B?!

I'll have to pay you for
the Diplomat, you know.

Okay, what we do, we drop you off here,
and then you come after us down to B?.

But if anything
happens to this car,

you'll be removed from
the National Register.

Have a nice trip, Hopalong.

If you steal the Diplomat,
I'll keep this lollipop wagon of yours.

Postbank accounts are some real shit!
Not a chance to overdraw!

But the time of miracles is hardly
over, here in the Valley of Saron.

I'll just say it as it is. There are
millions in this account, you know.

Nobody moves!

Trond Vidar,
what are you up to now, then?

Bullshit! Give me money!

This is unwise of you.

The money!

We don't have much money here today,
but you better have what we've got then.

Hi, is it Inge at the police station?
It's Bilje from the post office.

Yes, Trond Vidar was just here
and robbed me.

He didn't get more
than 3,000 kroner.

He went down to Seljord
in the Datsun just now.

Yeah, you'll probably meet him right
down the road there. Alright, bye then.

Well, there won't be much money for
you either. Your account is empty.

No, there's a lot of money there.

What? Very well, bye then.
-Have a nice day.

Hey... it's from Seljord, give
your position. Over. -Hi, there!

Highway 11 over Haukeli is still open,
and the driving conditions are good.

I'm down at the bridge. I better catch
him before he gets to the B? road. Over.

Yes, I think you can
move up ahead now.

Trond Vidar will probably
come out down at Kimle. Over.

Heh! Yes, that's true, he usually
drops out in that turn. Over.

Heh... yes, there he went!
He got a soft landing.

?sleiv, did you see what I saw? Over.
-Yes, shit! Over.

Did you see Tarjei's Impala passing by?
-It wasn't Tarjei who sat in it!

Looked like a city man! Over.

Yes, maybe it was! I'll keep an
eye on him. Over and out.


Are you on a long trip, or?

Hi... uh, I'm wondering about
the way to... Eagle Car Club.

Yes, well, there's many places
called that here in B?.

But you could try over there at
Langk?s and H?rte. -H?rte?

Yeah, drive down to the traffic circle,
then right to Kvarv,

drive 300 meters to where
there's a sign saying "H?rte".

Drive that way till
you get to central H?rte,

then Lank?s is right behind
the woods there.


You haven't got original
tires on that one?

"H?rte groceries"

Do you know where Lank?s is?


I'm looking for the president.
-What president? -Of the Am-car club.

Ole Johan Johansen?
He lives over there.

Down there in that basement.
-Okay, thanks.

Well, here it was nice...
to be in the middle of the shit hole.

Now it's time to
thump the table.

Where have you taken
my car now, then?

Well, there's no room for it in here.
-I asked where you've taken it!

There's something wrong with the engine,
so I have to get some new parts for you.

I guess we should manage to
get something. -That's too weak!

Because I picked it up
just yesterday.

It'd just been fully restored, cost me
15000 Kr. So your story's just too weak!

Well, the worst things are quite diffuse
I think, because it looked pretty bad.

So we can get the
tops from America,

and the "bops" down in Bamle,
so it'll cost you more money.

Okay, then.

Yes, of course,
it costs money when

"the tops come from America,
and the bops from Bamle".

That's no problem. I can just step in
for the Polack down at the hotel.

I can play hillbilly music till
the seizure comes and gets me.

It was terrible how you played!

And right now our dear Orchic is well
and back, so a good further trip to you.

Yes, yes...

There must be a market for more
than Harding fiddle and "Sputnik".

The thing is just to
introduce yourself.

Say, is your boss in?
-That's me!


I've got a demo here.

Suitable to wiggle some hillbilly flesh.
For the weekend or something.

So then I take the door
and you do the beer sale?

I have posters too.

If Otto had got himself a map,
he would have seen

there's no shortcut
out of Telemark.

It seems like the roads follow
the twisted landscape.

But it may also be
the opposite. Or both...

It's not necessarily meaningful that
the roads lead out of Telemark.

Most likely, their purpose is not
to lead anywhere at all.

But Otto hasn't become a real
Telemarker yet. He still hasn't enough

of what Aasmund Olavsson Vinje
called "tvisyn" (ambivalence).

The whole point of a labyrinth is to
get lost. Nothing abnormal about that.

Everyone gets a bit lost here.
But that's how we want it.

We thrive on it.

It was no coincidence that
Otto ended up in L?rdal.

Sooner or later, everyone ends up
in L?rdal. The road, in fact, ends here.

From here, one must take
the lakes and the canals in use.

Otto had then come to the end.
If he should go further now,

he'd need help from above.

Bj?rn, priest in the village.
It's Otto right? -Yeah, that's right.

Come on out in the sun a while.

Yeah, why not strech my legs a bit.
-Yes, a good place for that.

I've heard a lot about you.
-Oh, really?

Farida just stopped by and said
you're a wizard on the organ.

Very nice girl.
-Sure, not bad.

I thought maybe, uh...
we could start practice today.

There's a funeral tomorrow. Agnes Buen
Garn?s shall sing in the Church, so then..

Shall we practice for the funeral?
-Yes, you have to play there.


I thought...
that's what you do best?

But, as a rocker and such, you're
probably sceptical of the Church.

But... you should be aware
that we've changed a lot.

In the old days,
Harding fiddle was an insult.

It was an instrument
of satan, right?

And now it has a place
of honor in the church.

And that's how it might be
with rock as well.

Tomorrow we'll manage
with the Psalms, but...

If Jesus had lived today,
I think he probably...

well, yes, he would probably
have been a rocker.

The vocalist in Burzum?
-Yes, maybe so.

Burzum... I haven't
heard about that.

I'm very concerned about Christian
rock, you know. Much good there...

Well, here they bring in one
load of tourists after another.

The church hasn't been that full
since the last funeral, I guess.

But since Jesus was a rocker, it'll
probably be a full rave party here.

Welcome to this years coolest
ghost show: See Telemark and die!

If I'm going to be stuck in this
church asylum much longer now...

I'll probably get in
the pencil case myself.

(tourists speaking German)

Now, look here! There's that computer
witch from Karachi or something.

Watch out for her. She's capable of
putting you right into the hard disk...

and selling you as a deceased
relative to some American tourist.

The only thing I'd found for Bertie were
some paltry great-great grandparents.

"Came and went
Never took, never received"

"ding dong."

Yes, yes. She won't come with
me to Haugesund, that one.

Wow, wow! A chick or two
in costume, that would be nice.

I think I'll go for it.

Two in the front, two in
the back and one in the trunk.

Two in the front, and..

If Bertie had
had more cash...

I could've surely found a
third cousin or something.

Telemark is actually like a hologram,
where you see both what is there,

and what you think is there.

Otto never reached Haugesund,
and not New York either.

But why should he, when
everything is available in Telemark?

After four days
as asylum seeker,

Otto needed something more
than tourist's milkmaids.

I better take care of his integration
myself. With business well in the house,

it was alright for me to
spend some time on idealism.

Okay, alright!
Come on then, let's go.

You're going to drive the SS?

-Thank you.

See you, then.

I have often wanted
to drive Tarjei's Impala.

But not to get any place.

The point is simply
to enjoy life.

If there's something we Telemarkers
really know, it's how to enjoy life.

We never stress. We actually
have time to drive where we want.

The point is not to get somewhere,
when you're not going anyway.

No, the point is to sit in
a pristine vintage car,

and glide without resistance
through the landscape.

It was this Otto
had not understood.

But maybe he'll get it, if I give him
a little bit of a demonstration.

We have to watch it, so we don't
drive this wagon completely dead.

Not possible to crawl
with this thing, you know.


You're totally nuts!

Watch out!

Yes... with that demonstration I
made time pass, but not Otto relax.

Doesn't he like a bit of
speed and excitement?

Didn't Otto dare
to lose control?

Now, he probably thought he'd get
it back when he got behind the wheel...

but it's not that easy.

I hate this lollypop wagon.

I hate Am-car clubs
and the whole package,

with milkmaids and mutton
and cabbage and fiddles and...

The problem wasn't that Otto
hated mutton and cabbage, fiddles

and everything that has
to do with Telemark.

The problem was that he took it for
granted that it had to be that way.

It's better to give him
mutton stew and fiddle.

Better than going to Dalen
with tourist milkmaids in tow.

I'll rather drive him
to Aslak at Vesaas.

Aslak is a country rocker
and village punker.

Not even Otto
could hate Aslak.

Nice car, man!

It's an Impala?

Osmund, uh, you must tell
Otto about your car!

Nah... well it was grandfather
who brought it home back then.

You see, I was over there on a trip
and I got so fond of this car,

I just bought it and
brought it with me.

Hadn't they shot a man in it, too?
-Yes, right, this was a detective's car.

Now you must come and have dinner!
The mutton and cabbage is getting cold.

No, it's time to
set certain limits.

To eat sheep corpse is
something I definitely won't do.

Now you must dig in.

Tastes good.

It's you who's a musician?

You've been to the party
at M?sstrond then?

The M?sstronders know how to party.
-Yeah, I noticed.

And how to play!
Good fiddlers they have there.

But I don't like organ.
-As I thought.

You should learn to play
Harding fiddle as well!


Roots Research, it's Farida.
-Hi, it's me.

Hi, Anders. Is my car finished?

...the tires. ...V8...

Yes, but, I need
something that starts...

You're crazy, Farida!

Hey, you! Are you finished
at work soon, or...


You better come on home. It was bad
enough that the engine was in an Opel.

Are you coming? I'm hungry!

Oh, damn, did you take Otto's engine?
What am I to do with him now, then?

That city guy is yours. You take
care of him -But, Anders! Hel...

Now you have to do something.

Otto! Let it be, it must be
done properly, you know!

Hey, don't just stand there!
Help now!

Put it in, help put it in.

Grab it now, then! My God...

Lift it and bring it back
to the trunk, come on.

Is the car the only reason
you're still in Telemark?

Sure there's not something
you haven't told me?

What do you really know about
your parents? -My parents?

Hey stop! The Diplomat!

What the hell is it
you're driving at?

Now I had to do something.

I'd better try to distract him.


If everything gets real and
unreal at the same time,

then everything will be possible.

Because of that, one can
find everything in Telemark.

It only depends what
one is looking for.

They say one can even find oneself here.
But I don't recommend that,

because that's something one
does on his own responsibility.

When they searched the lake,
they found the Impala

with the sheep in the trunk.
But Otto had totally disappeared.

His V8, on the contrary,
was definitely there.

Even the sound of it
often makes me think of Otto.

It's perhaps that engine that will
get me out of Telemark some day.

Otto's Speedway Action Organ, yes...

Until later, I can tell you that we'll
have no trouble passing the time.

It's hell not to have in Telemark.
But it can also be the opposite.