The Other Side of Sunday, Also known in Norwegian as "Sndags Engler", is a movie that criticizes the small, and often tight church community. We follow the Preachers Daughter; Maria in her ... See full summary »
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Per Christian Ellefsen,
Marit Pia Jacobsen
The Other Side of Sunday, Also known in Norwegian as "Sndags Engler", is a movie that criticizes the small, and often tight church community. We follow the Preachers Daughter; Maria in her journey to liberate herself from the stiff church community and her father. Written by
Ole Pettersen <Petters@eunet.no>
It is the late 1950s in a small village in Norway. Bjørn Sundquist plays Johannes, a priest in the Church of Norway. Johannes has a wife, a son, and two daughters. The story revolves around Johannes, his pretty older teenage daughter Marie (Marie Theisen), and his church organist and assistant Mrs. Tunheim. Oddly we never know the family name of Johannes' family--the only person with a last name is Mrs. Tunheim, and we never know her first name. Johannes is stern and unyielding in his behavior. In the pulpit he is seen promoting the usual Christian pieties; his congregation looks like they are attending a funeral rather than a service. The rule is to look straight forward during a service and the first hint we get of what is to come is Marie's pinching her sister during a service. Johannes is harsh with his family and a prominent theme is the ongoing battle of wills between him and Marie. However, in several scenes we see a human side of Johannes that somewhat soften the initial stereotypical image that we might have of him.
Marie struggles to understand her religion and her burgeoning sexuality. Even in the face of the rigidity of her father's religious positions (or because of them) Marie has questions. As one example of her questioning consider this conversation with Mrs. Tunheim:
Marie: Do you think God did a poor job when he created man?
Mrs.Tunheim: Why do you ask?
Marie: He created us so that we have to ask forgiveness all the time. Isn't that a poor creation?
Or this reflection: "Isn't it just some sort of invention to love and cherish until death do you part? I love meatballs, but I cannot promise God that I will do that for the rest of my life." The movie often mixes humor with its more serious considerations.
Music plays an essential role in the film, ranging from Bach to 50s pop ballads. Music contributes to some exquisitely beautiful scenes like the one where Marie swims naked in the river.
All the actors capably handle the subtle complexities demanded of them, but it is ultimately Marie Theisen who carries the film and raises it above the average. She perfectly captures the questioning innocence at the core of Marie's personality and the stubborn persistence to find her own way in an environment that is trying to impose conformity. Marie is not about to give up on God, she is just looking for her own God--a God of nature, a God of forgiveness, a God who likes us when we are happy. This movie can be seen as a kinder and gentler version of a Bergman film that treats the same themes.
Expect surprises on the way to a definitive final scene.
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