No, the trolls we’re talking about here aren’t internet sociopaths who get their thrills from lurking in the dark corners of cyberspace, provoking trouble on blogs and forums — though the modern digital incarnation gets his/her name by analogy from a folkloric original. The traditional troll, instead, is a standard creature of Norwegian folklore, one that lurks and causes trouble but in more “natural” settings. They tend to be even uglier and much more visceral.
In essence trolls are chthonian beings, creatures of the earth, and as such are related to the giants of ancient Norse mythology. In fact, according to Wikipedia, “troll is a generally negative synonym for jötunn [or Norse giant]”. They dwell in mountains, among stones and boulders, in deep forests, in the sea (check out the sea troll below), under bridges (where they lurk waiting for dinner to come along) and anywhere else that is dark and dank. They come in all shapes and sizes, are usually ugly, wrinkly and grumpy, and sometimes even have multiple heads. They don’t tend to be described as friendly or welcoming, and in fact are often man-eaters.
The good news (for us, not them) is that full sunlight tends to turn them to stone, as described in the famous scene from J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit. This is not unlike the modern internet troll.
With The Hobbit currently in production, we’ll no doubt be seeing some CGI trolls there. But more authentically, troll spotters can check out an upcoming Norwegian fake-documentary that ostensibly uses found footage to tell the story of a troll hunter and a deadly secret that the Government has been keeping from the world.
The pseudo-doco is called Trolljegeren [aka The Troll Hunter] (Norway-2010; dir. André Ovredal) and to save time I’ll reproduce the excellent synopsis provided by Ain’t It Cool News:
The Troll Hunter posits a world where trolls are real and roam the Norwegian countryside, closely managed — and kept secret — by the government’s Troll Security Department, an arm of Wildlife Management. They lumber around eating rocks, hang out under bridges, and turn to stone or explode in direct sunlight. They have designated territories but sometimes they wander outside the bounds, and that’s when Hans, the Troll Hunter, gets called in.
Three college students are making a film about bear poaching, and at first they think Hans is a poacher. But after following him into the woods and coming face to face with a three headed troll, the truth is revealed. They then begin following him around from troll hunt to troll hunt, often getting much closer to the danger than they like. Hans, who has broken secrecy because he’s sick of his job and its poor benefits, is trying to figure out why so many trolls are leaving their habitats, and the answer could be deadly. (Source)
That’s one mighty big troll! But the monocephalic giant above, who also adorns the poster, isn’t the only one in the film. Here’s one with a polycephalic outlook — though given the aesthetic qualities of those heads he’s not really a poster-boy for the old adage “three-heads are better than one”:
Check out the Gallery below to see lot of images from the film.
Interview with a Troll:
It’s a little known fact that while trolls harken from Scandinavian areas of Europe, some have emigrated to other parts of the planet, including Australia. This isn’t a great idea, given how much sun we have down here, which probably explains why no one ever sees any.
However, I happen to have a creek running through my backyard and there’s even an old wooden bridge crossing it. I’ve always thought that there might be a troll out there, despite my partner Cat’s insistence that the shrieks and growls that are wont to echo late at night from the shadows surrounding it are made by possums (or possibly neighbourhood children).
I haven’t actually seen a troll there — and those that have were probably eaten — but I’m suspicious about the number of visitors we’ve had who went out to take a look at the bridge and never returned. “They were simply bored and used the bridge as an excuse to escape,” Cat reckons.
Still, there’s a shadowy area under the bridge and a large gap in the corrugated iron retaining wall that could easily be home to a troll — a small one admittedly.
So I went out there resolutely one dull afternoon recently and started poking around, shouting for the troll to show himself. This went on for several hours. It wasn’t until I said I wanted to interview him about Ovredal’s supposed exposé of trollish activity that he stuck his head out. The sun had dipped down behind the Illawarra escarpment by this time, so there wasn’t a problem with sunlight. But once his head appeared, followed by the rest of him, I realised how big he really was. He was huge! I tried to get a shot of him, but he grabbed my camera and ate it and said there was no way I could take his picture. Trolls hate having their picture taken.
Rob Hood: Are you willing to talk with me?
Troll: I grumph s’pose so.
RH: How on earth can you fit under there in that small hole?
Troll: Metaphysics. It’s Greek. Means “beyond physics”. Basically I can do stuff that’s not possible accordin’ to the rules of physics ’cause I’m a mythical creature.
RH: That’s a bit convenient.
Troll: Take it or f*** leave it.
RH: Okay, okay, don’t get cross.
Troll: I’m a troll. I’m always cross.
RH: So, have you heard of this Norwegian documentary about hunting trolls? Apparently they uncover not only a heap of trolls but the existence of a Government agency that monitors the critters and keeps the public in ignorance.
Troll: Huff. Not a hard job, if ya ask me. It’s rubbish though.
RH: They’re not real trolls in the doco?
Troll: Real? Sure the trolls are real. That one with the monstrous plodding feet? That’s my sister.
RH: Sister? But it seems so, so —
Troll: Ugly? Yeah, and she’s the pretty one of the family.
RH: So you actually know these trolls then. In that case, what’s rubbish about it?
Troll: Are you kiddin’ me? The Government agency crap. It’s a myth. There’s no such thing as government agencies.
RH: What? No government agencies of any kind?
Troll: None. They’re all fake.
RH: But governments run countries. Every country has one.
Troll: Pawff! You’re so ignorant. Next you’ll be telling me people actually have democratic rights.
RH: Well, yeah, they do.
Troll: [He patted me on the head.] Not much goin’ on in there, eh?
It took me ages to crawl out of the mud he’d patted me into and by the time I did, he was gone.
- Sources: Official website; Facebook page; YouTube Channel; Ain’t It Cool News; Upcominghorrormovies; assorted uncredited images via Google (some have the names of the artist on them. To the rest we apologise); the troll under my bridge
- Writing: Robert Hood | Research: Avery Guerra