In André Øvredal’s Trollhunter (2010), a college film crew shoots a documentary about a man who hunts down and destroys trolls. The film can be interpreted as an allegory for four aspects of human nature: reason, hatred, courage, and cowardice.
Thomas (Glenn Erland Tosterud) represents rationality and human reason. When Hans (Otto Jespersen) says that he hunts trolls, Thomas responds with disbelief: “You actually believe trolls exist?” Like doubting Thomas of the New Testament, Thomas only believes what he can see. Later, when he sees a three-headed troll in the forest, he is no longer a skeptic. He wants to go with Hans and film more trolls, to prove their existence to the world. Thomas stands for what can be measured and observed by science.
Whereas Thomas is rational, the trolls are not. They hate human beings for no apparent reason, and they hate Christians most of all. Hans says the trolls can “smell the blood of Christian man”, so he empties a pail of “Christian man’s blood” on a bridge in order to lure one. In the climax of the film, Hans taunts the Jotnar by playing the song “What a friend we have in Jesus.” The song is anathema to the giant troll who roars and chases after him.
Hans, who has no fear of the trolls, embodies fortitude, one of the four cardinal virtues.1 Thomas calls him a “superhero.” Before destroying the Jotnar, he stands face to face with the giant troll like David battling Goliath. In sharp contrast, Kalle (Tomas Alf Larsen) has a panic attack when he sees the Mountain Kings. Hans is a man of courage, while Kalle is a coward. They form a binary opposition, as do Thomas and the trolls.
Although it cannot be proven definitively, it is possible that Hans is a Christian. When he pours out the pail of blood on the bridge, an obvious question is raised: Where did he get the Christian man’s blood? Unless it was provided by an unknown donor in the Troll Security Service, the blood must be his own. At the battle on the bridge, he wears a suit of armor like a medieval Crusader. Literally or symbolically, Hans is the lone Christian knight who takes a stand against the evil that threatens Norway.
- Peter Kreeft, “Justice, Wisdom, Courage, and Moderation: The Four Cardinal Virtues,” Catholic Education Resource Centre, http://www.catholiceducation.org/en/culture/catholic-contributions/justice-wisdom-courage-and-moderation-the-four-cardinal-virtues.html