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Is man's existence really meaningful and hopeful? As a reply to Ingmar Bergman's Prison (1949), this movie claims that it is. A ring passes between a lot of different people, giving the bearer or someone close a new meaning to life. Actors, embezzlers, old ladies and cheated husbands all seem to gain temporary hope from misery and disillusionment. Written by
Questions about the meaning of life seen through a ring
When you look back in time at the Swedish film industry it is easy to reduce it to Ingmar Bergman. Although it is some truth to that, films like "The Girl from the Third Row" shows Sweden was gifted with more than one great director.
In "The Girl from the Third Row" the director Hasse Ekman let two different world-views collide. In the opening scene the lead character Gusten (Sigge Furst) talks, through his own-written play, about how pointless and empty our life on earth really is. He is a kind of existentialist/nihilist character.
After the play Gusten meets a girl (Eva Henning) who watched his play from the third row. She begins to tell a story about a ring which passes from person to person and as they have the ring we get to see a short glimpse of the life these people live and the effect the ring have on their lives. Through the story of the ring and the people in possession of it she tries to convince Gusten that there is meaning, destiny and true emotions in life. Gusten is not so easy to convince though.
The two positions that collide in "The Girl from the Third Row" is quite black and white. Either life is empty, shallow and without any meaning or life has set a destiny for us all and life is full of love if we just have the courage to embrace it. With that said there is a lot of scenes and subtle details which make the lines less clear and throws other questions at the viewer.
As you should have figured out now if you read this far this isn't a film for everyone. A previous reviewer found it pretty boring and I can fully understand that you find it boring if you don't understand what the film is about. If you have asked yourself questions about the meaning of life, destiny, read a little philosophy or something like that, then I think you will enjoy this film.
I ranked it an eight in the end. I took one star off because I found the two world-views a bit to black and white and another one because I simply don't agree with the director's point of view. :)
In the end, I highly recommend it!
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