“Homage to Leo the Lion”
by Marianne Heske
On a quiet day in the wood pulp mill, you can already hear Heske’s art film at the entrance. As you
move down the floors of the building, towards the old turbines, the roar of the film will give you
chills as you approach it.
The film is based on the American movie studio Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer’s (MGM) vignette from 1975. The iconic image of the roaring lion became a trademark for the studio as early as the 1920s, and the lion roaring has since been replaced several times. Undoubtedly, Heske noticed the Latin words that crowns the lion: ARS GRATIA ARTIS ”art for art’s sake”.
The artist has worked on the film and added several delays, slow motion effects and repetitions. The changes give the viewer an exceptional experience of the lion’s expressions, roaring and movements. While the slow motion emphasizes the majestic, the repetition of selected sequences helps defuse Leo the lion.
During work on the film, Christen Sveaas visited the artist’s studio by chance. He revealed to Heske that it was his uncle Reidar pulling Leo’s tail to make the lion roar. The Norwegian-born architect worked for MGM and happened to be in the studio when the recording of the famous roar was taped. However, Leo was not cooperative. Reidar went and pulled the tail of the lion, Leo roared, and the rest is history.