Friday, 11 December 2009

Everlasting Moments

A film directed by Jan Troell and shot on 16mm film and using available light where possible, is based on the life of his wife, Agnetsa Ulfsater, great aunt. She had been researching Maria Larsson's history through her family for 6 years, intending to make a documentary, instead they made this film.

It is a story of a working class housewife, Maria Larsson, living in Malmo early in the 20th century. Her daughter narrates the film, and tells us in the beginning her father, Sigge Larsson, bought her mother a raffle ticket with which she won a camera. He says the camera is his, but she says that he will have to marry her to share the camera.

The marriage produces many children but Sigge is a drinker with a temper and a womaniser. During a strike when money is short Maria tries to sell the camera but the Danish owner of the photographer's shop, Sebastian Pedersen, persuades her to keep it and take pictures. She has a wonderful eye and produces, against the odds, wonderful photographs, despite her husband's disapproval. As Pederson says she has "the gift of seeing"

As Jan Troell has said "I never knew Maria, of course, so I thought of her purely as a character, not as family. But I could relate to her very much as an artist. When I was 14, my parents gave me a camera, exactly the same as the one she used, with the 9x12 glass plates. It made me see the world very differently, preserving images and moments like that. It's a miracle, which is what Maria learns in the film. It changed her life. And mine"

The film follows the family from the beginning of the century, through the 1st world war and beyond, showing the changes in working class life and the transformation of Sweden and its people.

Maria Heiskanen who plays the main character gives a wonderful performance of a strong but gentle woman which draws you into the film. Mikael Persbrandt as the husband shows both sides of the character, the charming dancer and member of the Temperance Society and the faller off the wagon wife beater. Jesper Christensen as the tender-hearted photographer who accepts Maria as his equal makes up this strong trio.
Mikael Persbrandt, Maria Heiskanen
and Jan Troell on the set

The film runs for 125 minutes and it is one of those rare occasions when I wish it could have been a little bit longer. Here is the trailer, which I think does not quite do it justice.

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