With R’hllor as my witness, I had no idea Nikolaj Coster-Waldau could be this offhandedly funny and charming.
The Danish “Game of Thrones” hunk is our guide through Greenland, a country he married into (His wife Nukâka is from here.), in “Through Greenland.”
It’s a starkly beautiful series, in English (and Danish with English subtitles) that he made for Danish TV and is now available on Topic.
He travels north to south, east to west over the surprisingly vast land and ice-scape, in helicopters and boats, witnessing the melting glaciers and shrinking ice sheet there with experts and UNDP officials (He’s a “good will ambassador” on climate issues for the United Nations Development Program.), meeting the people in remote villages and participating in the folkways.
Yes, Jaime Lannister from “Game of Thrones” gets mixed up in blood and gore — watching how a hunted narwhal is cut up and sampling the raw meat with the natives, and pitching in on butchering a musk oxen, a major meat source for Greenlanders.
He jokes around at the Thule Air Force Base, whose Cold War mission has morphed into space monitoring and radio telescopic science in recent years.
“So, you’re tracking the aliens?”
He hikes the ice sheet, visits an abandoned coal mining town and empty missile silos. He stops by the village of Dundas, evacuated in a cruel rush because the U.S. Air Force needed the land decades ago. He meets the survivors and descendants of that ordeal in Qaanaag. He goes fishing, visits his actress-wife’s childhood home in Uumannaq, and dines with her in Oqaatsut in H8, which has to be the northernmost French-Greenlandic restaurant on Earth.
Yes. Adjust your bucket list accordingly.
That marriage is part of why this is a “personal journey” he explains. But Thule is where his father used to work, in the Danish civilian crew that helped run the American Thule air base in the north of the country. Dad was “the guy with the clinking bottles” folks from there remember. His father was a very good bookkeeper and an alcoholic.
He marvels at what “hard work” it is, being an alcoholic, hiding your illness (rarely very well) and delivers a token of his father’s affection back to where it came from — a ball glove Dad “stole” from the base gym to give his kid as a gift from exotic America.
Through it all, Coster-Waldau wears his celebrity easily and his curiosity on his sleeve. He speaks of being humbled by being in a “vast polar desert” where nothing and no one gives a damn about his “schedule.”
“Nature calls the shots,” he says with a shrug when he and his small crew get fogged in, at one point.
It’s almost hilarious to see Air Force personnel fangirling out over his visit, the women blushing, the men trying to convince him they don’t know the TV show, “but my wife does!”
The bigger message of this loneliest corner of our “lonely planet,” is how urgent it is that this beautiful place and its enormous ice sheet and glaciers be saved. Much of Denmark and all of the “Low Countries” of Belgium and The Netherlands would be under water is that sheet melts and seas rise 25 feet. So yes, the UN wants people to start taking that seriously.
And if you can get an affable international star to tour his wife’s homeland with a crew to view the problem and get that message across, all the better. “Through Greenland” is as pretty and exotic an eco-travelogue as TV has ever served up.
MPA Rating: unrated, animal slaughter, toilet humor
Cast: Nikolah Coster-Waldau, Nukâka, Jo Scheuer
Credits: Directed by Eric Engesgaard. A Danish production now on Topic.
Running time: Five episodes @ :43 minutes each.