“You have to see it to believe it, that’s what they say. It’s the opposite. You have to believe in something to see it.”
– Tobias Tidemann, Troll
These are the words spoken by a father to his daughter as they sit atop a mountain, looking towards a group of great peaks which are said to be the petrified bodies of thirteen trolls who got so drunk at a wedding that they stayed up too late and were turned to stone by the light of the rising sun. Just old stories, just fairy tales, surely, so the world says. But if you are willing and able to believe, just enough, then you can see the pattern of their faces within the wall of the mount, in the tracing of light and shadow across the stone. That is the gift which Tobias gives his daughter, the ability to believe, and thus to see that which is wondrous and terrifying.
This scene happens very early, at the beginning of the movie, and it sets the tone for everything that follows, as something from fairy tales, or even older than the tales, rises from the darkness below to stride across the land once more. And somehow, people are able to refuse to believe it. They see it, but they cannot accept what it is. They can’t even admit that its footprints are footprints at first. It walks out the open before their eyes, laying buildings low with its steps, terrifying and burying people merely with its passing, shrugging off all of their bullets and missiles, and devouring soldiers, and yet, for the entirety of the film, they can’t even call it by its name: a troll. Anyone who does is loony and a laughingstock in everyone’s eyes.
They see it right before them, but they do not, will not, and cannot believe it. They grasp blindly for their most familiar weapons to try and destroy it, like children clinging to teddy bears to protect them from the monster, all to no avail. The very thing they do to try and stay in control of their world is what most endangers them, even more than the towering, man-eating monstrosity.
The only ones who can see it, understand it, and defeat it are those who believe and can call it by its name.
There are some very powerful and relevant lessons in all of that. Not the least of them, belief does not come from what we see. No, what we see is determined by what we believe. We see nothing more than what we choose to see. That is how so many people are so blind today, in so many ways, because that is what they choose, usually without realizing it.
But, on the other hand, that also means we can see wonders the likes of which others can scarcely dream of, if we simply open ourselves to it. Wonders, miracles, truths which lie in plain view all around us, all of it is just waiting for us to see it, to know it, and grow from it.
We just have to believe, and who knows what we will see?