Wednesday, March 31, 2010

everlasting moments

Let me tell you about an amazing little foreign language film I watched last night:  "Everlasting Moments".  It is in the genre of the classical European period dramas.  This one is about a woman, Maria, at the turn of the 20th century struggling with a rough, brutish husband and her ever-growing brood of children.  It is really about the awakening of her spirit through the gift of an artistic eye that she tries to express with photography.  You  see her have to stifle her gift, as there is no room in her world for creative expression.  She even has to hide her camera for fear her husband will confiscate or destroy it.


How times have changed.  How privileged we are to have so many artistic tools and resources at our fingertips and the clear assumption we have every right to use them.  I kept thinking how much I take my ability to express on an artistic level for-granted.  It certainly illustrates the evolution of women's expressive rights and reproductive rights.


This film is raw yet elegant, full of the restraint of the period yet profoundly intimate.  While it has English subtitles, I was so caught up in the imagery and plot that I barely noticed.  Do keep an eye out for it - it is well worth the investment in time to watch. 


Below are descriptions and reviews from Wikipedia and Rottentomatos.com, in that order:


Everlasting Moments (Swedish: Maria Larssons eviga ögonblick) is a 2008 Swedish drama directed by Jan Troell, starring Maria Heiskanen, Mikael Persbrandt and Jesper Christensen. It is based on the true story of Maria Larsson, a Swedish working class woman in the early 1900s, who wins a camera in a lottery and goes on to become a photographer.

The film won the Guldbagge Award for Best Film and was nominated for Best Foreign Language Film at the 66th Golden Globe Awards. It also made the January shortlist for Best Foreign Language Film at the 81st Academy Awards, but wasn't selected as one of the final nominees.






Synopsis (from Rottentomatos.com):  


"In this breathtaking film from renowned Swedish director Jan Troell, a woman experiences an artistic awakening after being introduced to photography. Based on real-life events, the story opens at the start of the 20th century and centers around Finnish housewife Maria Larrson (Maria Heiskanen). Maria spends her days struggling to care for her large brood of children and trying to manage her abusive, alcoholic husband, Sigge (Mikael Persbrandt). Sigge is a dockworker, and when he isn’t dabbling in Socialist politics, he’s parading around town with various women, then returning home in a drunken stupor to beat Maria and the children.

Maria suffers many harsh indignities, but her world is changed forever the day she tries to pawn an old camera she won in a lottery. The owner of the camera shop is a kindly gentleman named Sebastian (Jesper Christensen), and instead of buying the camera, he insists Maria try it first. Maria takes his advice, and the effect is instantaneous: she is hooked on the power of the pictures. She begins to take portraits of the townspeople and the harsh world around her, and her newfound talent suddenly infuses her with confidence and awakens an inner passion.


Sigge rails against this bold new change in her and becomes more abusive, threatening to kill her and destroy her camera. But Maria defies him and continues to take pictures, eventually developing an intimate friendship with Sebastian. Troell does a magnificent job re-creating the time period, and while many of the film’s images are rather harsh and painful to take in, they are also fascinating and beautiful in their realism. Persbrandt delivers an excellent performance, and Heiskanen is phenomenal as the unstoppable Maria. Despite the bleak world the characters inhabit, the film is ultimately a moving affirmation of life’s beauty and the strength of the human spirit."


19 comments:

  1. Oh, it sounds fabulous, Bonnie!!! I will look for it! Thank you! ~Janine XO

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  2. That does sound like a movie to see. I like period movies so I’ll watch for this one. When you were talking about women and how much better it is for them now, I was thinking about these young girls in the Mormon sect who were married to old men against their will. The men had many wives and they had to wear long dresses, etc. Did you see this on TV? And this was last year,in 2009. Women still suffer in many places, including in the USA.

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  3. I will look for it too! Thanks for the heads up about it!
    Hugs
    SueAnn

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  4. Interesting sounding film and new to me. It’s such the opposite of my husband; he’s so supportive of my work and gentle. Times have indeed improved for women. Thanks for sharing!

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  5. nice. will definitely check this one out...

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  6. Bonnie, this is just the kind of film I love, so I thank you for bringing it up here.
    Vagabonde might be referring to the film made about the Bountiful, BC community - I was shocked when that first broke the news. Thought, naively, that that sort of thing could never happen in Canada. She's right, there are still women everywhere who suffer from oppression.

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  7. Bonnie, thanks for the tip, I'll look out for this movie as well.

    And I feel compelled to follow Vagabonde's comment with my own experience - in spite of my husband's acceptance and nominal support of my creative work, I either internalized this old social pressure or picked up and agreed on my husband's residual issues in this realm. The years he was working on his Ph.D., the kids were small, the house was small and everything revolved around my husband's success in school (you know, the "future" depended on it). And so I got no reprieve from childcare (until the youngest was five and the oldest, nine, when I took a two week permaculture course). There was no SPACE in the house for anything creative, no quiet, no mental space. I did everything I could to keep disruptions from occurring as I was the one responsible for making sure that the environment was right for HIM.

    So even though there's never been anything remotely approaching abuse in our relationship, that old set of roles settled right in. I didn't write for years.

    It certainly makes a better drama to have an obvious conflict, but an internal, assumed one can be equally stifling...

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  8. Sounds amazing, and as I am a photographer I will definately want to see it!

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  9. Thanks Bonnie

    I will remember this ...

    Happy days

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  10. this sounds like a heavy and beautiful movie...i am triggered too easily by violence of this sort however so will most definitely pass on yet another wonderful film...and about that other post of the green woman ...heheheh.. very clever you are!

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  11. Sniffles & Smiles:

    SueAnn:

    Brian:

    Delwyn:

    THANK YOU ALL. I think you will enjoy it if you get to see it.

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  12. Vagabonde: Good point - I was being very self-referential (with a Western point of view). There are millions of women still struggling under similar and worse conditions in the world.

    All the more reason, to not take our freedoms as women, here in the West, for granted.

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  13. Sarah: A wonderful feeling to be supported in all your endeavors. My husband needed a little gentle education - but his always kind nature overcame any conditionning he received about women from the culture and his family.

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  14. Deborah: Yes - right among us - and not always members of a sect which obviously oppresses women. I have a special interest in sects such as the Mormons and have many of the books written by women who escaped. Fascinating, courageous stories.

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  15. Hi neighbor: It is insidious isn't it - the role expectations that are imposed on us or that we impose on ourselves. Even now, it is frequently presumed that women should be given all the freedoms available UNTIL they conflict with the 'more important' endeavors of the male. This was also a source of resentment and conflict early in my marriage.

    Oppression takes many forms - thanks for reminding us (me!).

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  16. Beth: Yes! That's why I thought it might appeal to many who blog as there are so many of us who are photographers amateur as well as professional. I certainly enjoyed it for that very reason. However, the movie is so nuanced that it touches many facets of a woman's day to day struggles.

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  17. linda: Ah ... can't put anything past you!! You are wise to know your limits. There are violent, difficult scenes and I did shut my eyes a couple of times. So, peeps, follow linda's example if you are ultra-sensitive.

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  18. Thanks for this review, Bonnie. It sounds fantastic. I shall look out for it.

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  19. You are right, we have everything available to us now, every wish we have is instantly gratified; we perhaps don't always know how lucky we are. There is also the danger that any talents we might have are easily exploited; we do not need to work at them, expend effort to realize them and therefore our full potential may not be realized.

    In other words, 'easy come, easy go, easily satisfied'

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