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I really loved this movie and so did the audience that I saw it with in Los Angeles. After the film, lots of people were crying and saying how much the film had affected them. I can see why it was such a huge hit in its homeland, Sweden. The film is masterfully directed and each character brilliantly drawn so that by the end you really know these people and care about them. The music is very natural and the main song in the film quite heartbreaking but inspiring. Would definitely recommend this film for everyone to see - even people who don't normally go to subtitled films. Definitely deserved the Oscar Nomination because of the profound themes of the film reflected without pretension in a small-town community with everyday people. It is a film that unites us in this divided world and shows us the potential of the human spirit. A MUST SEE!
This film, recently voted as an audience favorite at the 2005 Palm
Springs International Film Festival, is inspiring and moving. A famous
conductor, forced to retire by illness, returns to the small village of
his birth to become the leader of the church choir, and finally find
fulfillment in his music. Drawing on Sweedish traits of keeping things
within oneself and of the insular character of a small Swedish village,
this film develops each of its characters well. superbly directed,
acted and sung, it brought tears to many eyes, and smiles to all.
Hopefully it will find distribution in the United States.
If you can, see it!
Wow I loved this movie! It is about normal life in a small village. About hypocrisy and honesty, love and surrender. Great! It is about things everybody encounters in life. You have to do things with passion. But some people will not appreciate your passion and will try to stop you. There are people who find the opinion of others and 'what will the neighbors think' more important than to follow their heart. Don't let anybody's opinion stop you from fulfilling your dreams and passion. I loved the fact that the actors were all really normal people, it could have been my family. No big beauties, but all people you fall in love with during the movie.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This is one of those movies that you keep thinking about when you wake
up the next morning. It will give you that warm, fuzzy feeling and
leave you with a smile on your face.
Sure, we get fed the typical stereotype characters and stories, but it does do the trick: Entertain.
Being from Sweden and living in the US for quite sometime, it is funny how we react. "The deadbeat husband is going to kill him", "She (Gabriella) is going to die and then there will be a heartbreaking larger-than-life ending". We know how these things work, everything comes together at the end. And it did. The characters were somewhat simple, they were so elaborate that you didn't really think twice about it, nothing was really left for your own imagination. The closest would probably be Siv, she makes you ask yourself if she indeed was in love with Daniel, but that's about it.
But the movie is beautiful, set in rural Norrland, the music is absolutely amazing and the characters are lovable. Michael Nyqvist is truly genius, with his crazy unique look and Frida Hallberg is charming and approachable. Maybe a little too nice.
But most of all this movie makes you feel, and that is the most important thing. You cry, you laugh, you hate and you identify. I don't know about you guys, but that does not happen that often.
First I was caught totally off guard by the film's initial lyricism and then I became totally enchanted with the unfolding story and engrossed with the brilliant directing. The characters were all fully developed, not bigger-than-life but just like the people we live among anywhere we are in the world, in Sweden, in Turkey or in America, all completely believable human beings with foibles and nobility. Hollywood could learn so much from this beautiful film. It shows that there is no need to go into every little detail behind every action to bring out the whole theme clear and bright, and that shows the brilliance of the director! Hearfelt thanks to Kay Pollak and the wonderful cast for this superb treat!!
Kay Pollak's 2004 heart-warmer Så som i himmelen/ As it is in Heaven
contains every stereotype of Swedish humanity and inhumanity yet
manages to be a crowd-pleaser. It contains plenty of ammunition for
cynical critics, continuity error-spotters and for
saccharine-debunkers, yet manages to depict the colours of life in a
small community evocatively. The film also runs the gamut of proverbial
messages about 'finding one's own voice' and 'just doing it despite
one's fear', without completely removing the lump from the throats of
Its success as a crowd pleaser comes from two facts. Firstly, small films about strangers bringing new life to rural Christian communities provide plenty of scope for the exposure of hypocrisy while at the same time allowing repressed characters to break out of their hairshirts. The same year and with a similarly Swedish breeze, The Queen of Sheba's Pearls did it, and Babette's Feast also comes to mind. Secondly, any film about small communities taking on the whole wide world will strike a human chord in our increasingly individual/self- focused and impersonalized world. This film's structural similarity with the likes of The Full Monty, Brassed Off, Calendar Girls and On a Clear Day shows its indebtedness to the formula. But it is a formula with life left in it yet, and this seems to be because people need positive- message films that evoke a sense of community almost in spite of themselves.
The stranger is burned-out maestro Daniel Daréus on a quest for self-rediscovery. The town he visits, or rather revisits, is, unbeknownst to the townsfolk, the place of his childhood. He was bullied mercilessly by classmates here, supposedly because he was a sensitive musician without aspiration to drive a truck. Here, he takes the job of cantor/choirmaster, despite the usual suspicions of artists and outsiders. The place is, of course, populated by a wide range of recognizable types whose character arcs can be predicted: the broken-hearted, fair-haired girl so beautiful she nearly glows; the cellphone-ringing local businessman; the woman whose beauty is lost amidst domestic abuse; the steely pastor and his less austere wife, who at first seem right out of Ingmar Bergman. Also present: jealous, uptight spinster (Siv) (check); geriatric whose soul still sings (check); elderly couple who may have repressed desires for each other since kindergarten (check); obese person whose function is to point out we should not laugh and say 'fatty' (check); intellectually handicapped boy who proves able to sing a good 'A' (check).
Pollak's film is not all warm fuzzies, however. It diverts from the 'let's put on a show despite setbacks and moral opposition' sub-genre. It contains violence and an ending that might well be a metaphor for dying after achieving creative nirvana. The violence of the film is mostly a function of male anger and repression, but in never delves deeply into why the school bully who grows up into a wife beater is like this. Similarly, the small town Pastor so closely adheres to the moralistic, black-wearing super-Protestant stereotype, that his secret indulgence in girlie magazines is hardly surprising. His repressions and hypocrisies are just there, dangling unrelated to psychological reality. Perhaps the unexplained photograph of a young boy, a lost son perhaps, glimpsed once over his shoulder, holds the secret.
Perhaps these holes are functions of the editing, like several inconsistencies and continuity glitches that can be spotted, such as Siv's unexplained reappearance in the choir (twice) after moralistic outbursts. In fact none of the hitches in the film last very long and all seem resolved within a scene. Apart from in some awkward love scenes, the film's 127 minutes seldom drag, but there is a feeling that things may have been left on the cutting room floor.
The film remains solid three-star-fare despite the holes that can be picked in it. This is simply because in a world of technology-focused flicks and materialistic self-seeking, any glimpse of human community is, deep down, welcome for anyone, even the cynical.
I am not going to spoil the contents to anyone, who has not yet watched
this humble masterpiece by Kay Pollak.
A world famous conductor brilliantly played by Michael Nyqvist seeks peace from stress by moving back to his childhood village. The villagers, who has followed the genius in silence, are slowly tempting him to share of his greatness.
Each role in this movie, has a very specific purpose and shows a remarkable potential in each of the actors playing their own chord in short but precise words, a symphony of love.
Not love in the sense of relationship, but in the tone of the spirit deeply buried within each of the characters, each revealing their own present story, their needs, their skeletons, desires and much more.
I shall not forget to mention, the two main parts played by Frida Hallgren and Michael Nyqvist, whose dramas are played in unforgettable harmonies of emotional feedback. They touch each other with a pain connected in their own disability to love themselves.
Michael Nyqvist is really put to the test here in a very difficult setup, in one of those movies that either end up as catastrophic or fantastic. And fantastic it became from start to end, not one second less or more than enough, you are left with a feeling of change and a taste for more.
To this day, definitely one of the best movies I have had the pleasure of watching.
If the screenwriter and director intended to open hearts with the movie as the musician wanted to do with his music, they succeeded with me. Commonplace human situations became original, personal and immediate so that I personally felt touched by each situation. I believe I would credit the power of music combined with the point of view of the person writing the movie. Without spoiling, I can say that I was very moved by the movie's approach to living. Haven't actually cried out of-what- joy? empathy? just deep emotion? in a very long time. I would love to find a way to show it to others. Saw it at Seattle International Film Festival.
Back to the roots with "like it is in heaven" - what are the real
values of life? These Swedes carve out a message that appeals to every
heart. We've seen it twice now in a cinema packed to the last seat:
love pure and joy within the music of a choir that's simple, yet full
of power once everyone finds his or her inner tone.
From the glitter of fame to the school of of his youth, now empty and ready to be adapted as his new home after collapsing on stage, Daniel wants to start listening and is drawn into the lives of the simple, warm and rough people of the North.
He wins the hearts with music and gains the capacity to love and be loved unconditionally.
Don't go see it if you've been normed to Hollywood. This stuff contains no extras, just your laughter, your compassion, your tears!
A beautiful film, touching profoundly up the simple, yet divine aspects
This movie was almost perfect, and seeing as nothing in this world can be truly perfect, that is pretty good. The only minor thing I subjectively object to, is the pacing at some points in the middle of the story. The acting is also very good, and all the actors easily top actors in high-profile films. The actual directing seems to have been well thought through, and the script must have been amazing. There are some truly breathtaking moments of foreshadowing, and a quite gorgeous continuing circular composition of the story.
The moment in the movie, when the main character achieves that feeling of being in heaven is the perfect ending to a truly brilliant yarn.
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