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John Joe McNeill,
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Bear with me a little, and you'll understand the following. Just read the rest, please.
Bille August, of Indiana Jones' fame, wrote and directed one of the Big Epics of Nordic cinema in 1986, Pelle Erobreren. Max Von Sydow and Pelle Hvenegaard played the roles we (almost) see here played by Rolf Becker (Helge) and Leonard Proxauf (Jonas) yet, still a far cry from the original.
Around 1983, Ingmar Bergman spent more than 100 days of non-stop work shooting Fanny och Alexander, arguably the best film ever made. There, we meet the Ekhdals and, in particular, Alexander, who faces the trial and physical punishment for his sins by a priest (by then, his stepfather), memorably played by Jan Malmsjö in a scene copied exactly, even the words (here in German rather than the original Swedish) for NimmerMeer.
A young and sweet Troels Asmussen, in August's film (Pelle), plays a rejected child that wants to leave "home" with the troupè that tours the village, who deeply resembles Tom Lass' character (Knut).
NimmerMeer is very well done. Beautifully shot. Illumination and camera work are outstanding, but the script follows so closely two other very well known films, that even the names of people refer to them. It's much more Swedish or Danish in looks than German (wardrobes, actors, sets). And this is not just because all the names used on the film are either Norwegian or Swedish!
Some scenes use the exact camera angles, wardrobes AND text used on the original films, so I couldn't call these "details" a homage to August and Bergman.
The relationship with The Death and dreams is a theme Alexander deals with in Bergman's story as Jonas does here almost with the same visual references and in the same "acts" as in Fanny och Alexander.
All in all, if this film is to be regarded as something original, it is not. If it was made to show how good a thing could be done as a beautiful project, it succeeded, but I'd recommend Toke Hebbeln (the Director) to credit the writers who gave life to his characters before.
Toke directed a short when he was 24. It is a beautiful, rare and strong film that has life of its own. Here, on his feature-length debut I find something extremely rare in modern cinema: using others scripts and not telling the audience they're about to see some scenes of two films intertwined in a way you can think it's something original.
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