When the war breaks out, Annika lives with her parents in Värmland, close to the border to Norway. Her cousin Harald is a dealer in the black market but has to escape from the police to Norway. Annika moves to Stockholm and gets a job as a waitress. She meets the happy-go-lucky Berit and together they have a wonderful time. She also meets a young man, Bengt, whom she marries. But almost immediately she discovers that her husband is different from the man who was courting her. Written by
1939 was a major project in the Swedish film industry. The Swedish people were invited to send in short descriptions of their own experiences during the war. The events depicted in the film are based on these stories. The main character, Annika, is based on a woman in real life, who travelled from Värmland to Stockholm to start a new life.
The film does create plausible images of what went on in Sweden during the war. The film also illustrates a time of transition, both for the world (from the old, safe environment to a new, unsecure one with prospects and dangers) and for the young people, who were forced to grow up quickly during this violent period of time. Everyone had to decide how to relate to the new world and what to do about their personal roots and beliefs. This is why I find the film so interesting.
I agree that 1939 can be considered slow at times, but I also happen to think that it is a tempo which suits the tale that is told. In my book, the key line is during one of the slower moments, when Annika's father says to Annika something along the lines of: "I am afraid of what's coming. Don't forget the old ways, Annika. Don't forget the way we used to live." Looking out over the meadows of his home, he realises that he is being left behind by the development, and that Annika and her peers are left at the helm. For me it is a thoroughly moving moment in the film. With the fast pace that we are living today, we would all do well to heed his plea.
This film didn't get the credit I think it merited, and at least for us Swedes 1939 should be considered an important film.
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