Sunday, March 22, 2009

Film Review of Swedish Film - Everlasting Moments

by Eric Green

Leave it to Swedish filmmakers to give you a film of epoch proportions in a very intimate family scale. This film, "Everlasting Moments," is narrated [a good idea] film, by the loving daughter, Maja, in a Swedish family in the deep Southwestern corner of Sweden, the Malmo area. The mother and father of this family are both highly complex characters both of who represent a time period, which could be repeated, probably in other European countries.

The working class film starts in 1907 in the middle of political upheavals in almost every country. Anarchists and socialists are featured. Labor strikes are the norm Russia is not mentioned but clearly the 1907 period in Russia had its impact in Sweden, a country a stones through from there.

Maria Larsson, played by beautifully Maria Heiskanen, and Sigfrid Larsson, played strongly by Michael Persbrandt, are the married couple. Sigge is a carousing alcoholic and Maria is the suffering wife who seems to end each confrontation with her husband with another child. They met and then married when they both vied for the same camera.

Most U.S. filmgoers will not know any these and other actors in the film, but they clearly highly trained Swedish actors. At the same time, most of these seem very familiar.

The First World War came into the film with Sigge and his socialist friend Englund, played by Emil Jensen went going off to war. But, then the three kings of Scandinavian met and declared their neutrality. Sigge was able to come home and continue his often miserable, angry existence. He reluctantly is drawn into strikes and political action.

Sigge's rage had most to do with being exploited by greedy employers on the longshore and at various farms.

The centerpiece of the film is the photography of Maria. She is befriended by a local photographer, Sebastian Pederson, played by Jesper Christensen, and encouraged to pursue her work. It was Maria's photos, most over 50 years unseen, that spurred the origins of the film. She took a photo of the three kings, which Pederson had reproduced in a major newspaper. Their special relationship was also important to the film.

The acting by Meiskanan and Persbrandt; as well as, Callin Ohrvall as Maja Larsson is excellent. The supporting cast is also of the highest quality.

But, it is the direction and story presented by Jan Troell that makes this film extraordinary. Troell's wife is the granddaughter of Maria. She discovered the photos. Niklas Radstrom wrote the film's screenplay.

Troell also had a hand in the cinematography with Mischa Garvjusjov.

The film was shot in 16mm and then expanded to be 35mm. The first portion of the film, when it was taking place in 1907 was shot in black and white. Then the film jumped 4 years and some colors were used. At the end of the film, full color.

This is a film made by and for Swedish audiences; much like the creaters of "Tokyo Sonata" was for Japanese audiences. Another refreshing change from international films made with Hollywood in mind.