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Gravel, Grass, Wind & Stone

Image © Copyright Klara Harden

Image © Copyright Klara Harden

Inspiration can take all sorts of forms, and as they say, you never know when it will hit you.

For the last couple of years, I've been an enormous fan of Klara Harden, following her journeys online. I somehow (thankfully) stumbled upon her first gorgeous documentary, Made in Iceland, and have been captivated ever since. She's a young explorer, a thoughtful adventurer, a "shipwrecked rambler" by her own account, and all of the titles are apt. For Made in Iceland, Harden embarked on a multi-week solo journey through the wilderness of Iceland and filmed every moment. I couldn’t be more thankful for her efforts, even if they do make me feel like a sheltered child by comparison.

The sheer variety of Iceland’s beauty is breathtaking. Harden drinks in the expansive landscape, focusing in turn on the resplendent vistas as well as the more nuanced details. Her close-up inspections of water alternatively rushing and dripping over stone and moss are especially poignant. There’s a mesmerizing rhythm to watching the ground change from gravel to grass beneath her striding feet and from moment to moment, her obvious warmth of personality and generosity of spirit make you feel like you're right there with her.

Interspersed among the scenes of the environment’s plains and mountains and wind are glimpses into the highs and lows of Harden’s personal experience. Whether it’s the joy of meeting a fox pup or the despair of feeling irrevocably lost in unfamiliar territory, these introspective moments reflect the heart of the adventurer and what it means to experience unspoiled nature. Away from the convoluted trappings of modern civilization, the simple beauty and uncertainty of the wild is intoxicating.

I've watched the video more than a few times over the couple of years since I found it, and on bad days when I need to be somewhere else, it never fails to rejuvenate my spirit. It has been in no small part a big inspiration for A Knight Adrift and though I often cite the video game Dark Souls as my primary impetus for crafting this tale, the fact is that this project of mine wouldn't exist without Klara Harden (don't be surprised if a character named after her shows up at some point).

Sure, Aveline might do battle with monsters and evil and quest to protect her world, but I want her journey to be as much a story of discovery as it is of violence and melodrama. Why die for a world you barely know? Why protect a self you can barely call your own? 

Fantastic tales of high stakes are great, but quiet moments alone in nature can be reflective, informative. I'm looking forward to exploring these questions, Valerius, and Aveline's character a little ways down the line and I'm sure Harden will be on my mind when I do.

Anyway, a year after the release of her newest project, With Love from Madagascar, now's a better time than any to check out Harden's work. Believe me, you owe it to yourself. Now I think it's time to plan a trip to the mountains...