Sæluhús - Our Latest Documentary Film

Sæluhús - Our Latest Documentary Film

In a world increasingly dominated by the noise and rush of urban life, the quest for quiet solitude and reconnecting with nature has never been more crucial. As a brand founded on the principles of meticulous craftsmanship and a passion for the great outdoors, we're proud to introduce our latest documentary project, Sæluhús (House of Bliss). This film, a collaboration between Icelandic surf filmmaker Elli Thor Magnusson and American adventure cinematographer Ben Weiland, captures an intimate journey of building a traditional Icelandic sæluhús — a small survival shelter — along the rugged, volcanic shores of Iceland.

What's the Film About?

Elli Thor Magnusson, renowned for his profound visual narratives of Iceland’s surf scene and its untamed landscapes, brings to this project a deeply personal touch. The documentary follows Elli as he constructs a modern-day minimalist Sæluhús, creating a refuge that echoes the solitude and peace that these shelters have offered through centuries. The sæluhús tradition, deeply embedded in Iceland’s pastoral history, serves as a spiritual and physical sanctuary for those seeking respite from their bustling lives, encapsulating themes of independence and harmony with nature.

Ben Weiland, whose cinematic ventures often explore the symbiosis between man and extreme environments, lends his expertise to capture this elemental interaction. Known for his stirring depictions of remote surfing destinations and the resilience of adventurers, Weiland's involvement ensures that our latest film is visually compelling and rich with storytelling that resonates with anyone who cherishes the spirit of exploration and the peaceful solitude of the great outdoors.

What does Sæluhús mean?

The Icelandic tradition of the "sæluhús" which translates to "houses of happiness" or "house of bliss" is rooted in the country's rich folklore and historical practices, especially those connected to rural life. These structures, while not as commonly referenced in popular culture as other Icelandic traditions, hold a quaint and culturally significant place in Iceland's past.

Historically, sæluhús were small buildings or huts situated long distances away from the main living quarters on a farm. They were typically used during the summer months when farmhands and family members would need to stay near the pastures or remote fields to manage livestock and other agricultural tasks. The sæluhús offered shelter and a place to rest.

More romantically, these huts are often depicted in stories and folklore as places of retreat and solitude, where individuals could find peace, quiet, and perhaps even escape from the daily rigors of rural life. They served as a sanctuary where one could be closer to nature, reflecting the Icelandic value of independence and self-reliance, as well as a deep connection to the natural world.

In modern times, while the traditional use of sæluhús as described might not be as prevalent, the concept has seen a sort of revival through modern cabins and holiday homes scattered in the Icelandic countryside. These modern equivalents serve a similar purpose as places of escape and relaxation, where people can reconnect with the serene and stark beauty of the Icelandic landscape, reminiscent of the original intent of the sæluhús. This adaptation of the tradition underscores a continuity of Icelanders’ appreciation for solitude, nature, and a quiet refuge away from urban centers.

Why did we make this film?

Like all of our film projects, this documentary short serves as a reflection of Vaer’s brand mission to encourage exploration and foster a connection with the environment. It underscores the importance of slowing down, embracing the rugged beauty of the outdoors, and finding peace in solitude. As Elli builds his shelter, he wears the Vaer C5 Tactical Field, a testament to the reliability and practicality of our watches. Designed for the modern adventurer, the C5 Tactical Field is solar-powered, eliminating the need for battery changes and making it an ideal companion for off-grid environments where natural light is the only abundant resource.

This film not only highlights the craftsmanship of building a traditional Icelandic shelter but also aligns with Vaer's commitment to sustainability and the celebration of local traditions and practices. It illustrates the value of a timepiece that respects both heritage and innovation—qualities that Vaer stands for.

Can I visit the shelter?

If you happen to be exploring the Icelandic coast - you're welcome to seek refuge in Elli's handbuilt shelter. While the location is hidden, he has left several clues within the documentary that give some evidence of where this hut can be found.

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