As It Is In Heaven

Finally got around to seeing the lovely Swedish love story, "Så som i himmelen"! It was at the Nordic Film Festival last year, but there was some other film on in parallel that I really wanted to see. And then when it was running in Berlin in Swedish I could never make it... same thing for when the first run in German came. But luckily, the film is still going strong, so I made it at a second-run movie theater.

This is one of those films that you either love and want to see 15 times, or you positively hate. I have met people from both camps. I tend towards the former - I would definitely see it again, although there are some discontinuities and unmotivated things happening, but the love story is so tangible, that makes it so enjoyable.

The plot in a nutshell: Daniel Daréus is a famous conductor with a traumatic past. He collapses and quits his job, returning to the Northern Sweden of his boyhood. He buys the local school house (we have friends wo did that, this gives you LOTS of room!) and moves in, piano and all. Turns out, Italian shoes are not the right thing for walking in the snow. Everyone is amazed that he is there, the village organizer and busybody insists he come to choir practice. Daniel ends up taking over the choir, even though he knows nothing about conducting a choir. It is hard work, but in very few sessions, all of the women in the choir are in love with him. He does not seem to notice this. He is very gentle and tender to all the women, they all lap it up because their own men are beaters / bores / bullies. The women are all jealous of each other, quitting choir when then think one of the others is more favored by Daniel. He manages to get them all to return without sleeping with them. They attend a choir competition in Salzburg, he is greeted by press and beautiful women from his past. Lena, the pretty young thing, gets really jealous. Daniel is speaking with an old friend and says "They all love me." Then he seems to realize something. He hurries to Lena, bangs on her door to have her let him in, and then this wonderful scene occurs:

Daniel: When you like someone, how do you know that you love them?
Lena: Well, you... it makes you happy when you see him.
Daniel: Yes. And more?
Lena: You, you think about him all the time.
Daniel: Right. What else?
Lena: You're happy when you're with him.
(Now Daniel gets this look on his face like he is working hard on the logic, then his eyes light up and he looks at Lena the way women want men to look at them all the time)
Daniel: Happy when you are together... Lena... I love you.

They land in bed, he goes for a bike ride while she gets ready for the choir, he has a heart attack and does not make it to the performance, the choir does a great job without him, moving all the others to chant with them, crescendo, cut, kleenex.

Nice scenery, lots of clichés about Sweden, lots of excitement trying to guess which of the women will get him. Can music so possess you that you do not realize people are in love with you?


Nedbanks Nemesis said...

I had penned the following for dialogue in a forum, mind if we use your blog to do so ?

"Heads of argument" - these are the different themes I still plan to elaborate on later.

1a) What is the connotation of the title in the context of this in the film :
"... Thy will be done, on earth [as it is in Heaven] ... "
1b) Other instances of this phrase in the bible ?

> I don't know that I would necessarily recommend this film to you, it is certainly not a "Christian" film, but it does highlight the interaction between humanity and Christianity, portraying the failings of people, probably not attacking Christianity.

> I had wondered if the film's title occurs anywhere else in the Bible apart from the Lord's prayer, but it does not :

> Luke 11:2 May your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.
> Matthew 6:9 ... on earth as it is in heaven.
> Searching finished (37.23 seconds).

2) Negative slant on marriage (Connie and Gabriella, Stig and Siv, Lena's married lover)

3) (Superseded)

4) Lena's incredibly alluring smile, and changing from smile -> crumpled expression to smile
It was incredible how Daniel took so long to respond to her, I think the director was playing emotional manipulation with his audience by us being aware of her presence in many scenes and the distraction of Daniel with everything but her.

5) So what was the allegory regarding "as it is in heaven", the singing in the end, the corn field (as per gladiator's field on the entrance to Elysium), the next angel on the school fresco ???

6) The influences of Gladiator and Babette's Feast - anyone see anything else?

7) Those final head wounds did not seem to serious, maybe it was shock and cardiac stress? And why was he cycling furiously to the "Let us sing" performance when Lena got there in good time from the same hotel (and room)?

8) Increasing amplitude of oscillations in the happiness, sadness cycle of Daniel's life from the time he moves back to his home town, culminating in the night he spent with Lena and then his stroke /head wound /death the morning after (and the obvious parallel from the bullying scene, his successes with the violin and his mother's death the day he won the Junior Musician competition).

Interesting info FYI (from wikipedia)
An interesting note about this film is that it has been a word-of-mouth success and no more so than in Sydney, Australia. An independent cinema, the Cremorne Orpheum, has been showing the film for a record-breaking 41 weeks (as of mid-September) and is now the longest running film in Australia. A celebration of the popularity and spirit of the film was held at the Orpheum in August 2007 with a concert of Scandinavian music including a finale of 'Gabriella's Song' from the film. A recording of proceedings was made for the director Kay Pollack and via a pre-recorded message to the audience, he thanked Sydneysiders for embracing the film so warmly.

Zie said...

Loved the film .Saw it 10 times in the cinema. Bought the DVD and play it at least once a week. The best I have ever seen. The simplicity , the emotions, the human interactions, the full spectrum of different characters, the natural honesty and interplay of a community..all touched me. The songs, the music, and the dialogue will never be surpassed by any film I have seen or (I believe) will ever see. Eleanor South Africa. P/S Bought the CD as well. Congratulations