Jerusalem (1996) Poster


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A piece of Swedish history
Rammstein-224 July 2000
With breath-taking scenery, this film is one of the very best Swedish films ever. Beautiful and true to the history of Christianism in the late 19th century, this piece of art is as much a homage to Selma Lagerlöf as it is to our national heritage. It is also a sad love story, of how religion and fanaticism can destroy families, shatter homes and lay to waste entire towns and villages: the fear of the cruel God.

Ultimately, this film tells us that home is where the heart is, religion or not. It is rather love that is the essence here, whether it be love of God or love of family and the love of home, and it is obvious to me that loneliness is the price Karin has to pay for her fanaticism.

A beautiful film.
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An outstanding epic narrated with mastery
hedgehoggie_a1 April 2005
The film is based on a novel by Selma Lagerlof and itself is indeed a magnificent epic of a Scandinavian spirit, though not that naive in its approach as one finds in, say, some famous epic movies based on Scottish history. In my eyes the film is a revelation of a fragile human story, full of obstacles and hard days, proceeded by a careful, attentive eye, and smooth in a sense that the sequence of events do not overshadow each other but rather form a nice waving flow, thus sustaining intensity not in separate scenes but rather as a whole, where each moment is masterfully organized. Also, though dealing with difficult issues, the film sees people not as a collection of scenes of despair, but as a continuous spirit, worth of admiration after all.

If you want an entertaining film in the narrow sense then I suggest this is not the right one to choose and you might be disappointed. Else, go and see it, it is rewarding in a sense of how much attention and openness you can give to it, a film its director Bille August did not manage to overtake by now, despite his expensive Hollywood attempts.
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Love in pain
edithwharton1008 October 2006
Billie August offers a compelling visualization of Selma Lagerlöf's novel "Jerusalem." The narrative evokes the evangelical millennialism that in 1896 compelled Swedes from the village of Nas to leave their families and their land for Ottoman Jerusalem to await the second coming of Jesus. The austere and beautiful cold of Sweden contrasts to the austere and beautiful heat of Jerusalem; the stoicism demanded by the weather in the north is tested by the violence of disease, aridity and social ostracism in the south. These two disparate sites frame the love story of the protagonists, Gertrude (Maria Bonnevie) and Ingmar (Ulf Friberg), whose devotion to one another transcends conventional romance. The characters are complex. Their distinct weaknesses (Gertrude's febrile and pious imagination and Ingmar's passion for his land) thicken their mutual strengths—unselfish empathy and candid honesty. The villain in the piece is Hellgum (Sven-Bertil Taube), the born-again evangelical preacher who returns to his Swedish homeland from America as a dark shadow praying upon rifts in the religious fabric of the community. Selma Lagerlöf was the first woman to win the Nobel Prize for literature. "Jerusalem," published in Sweden in 1901, depicted recent events with resonant sympathy. Billie August has succeeded in recovering that same compassion in his rendering of a now remote historical moment. Nevertheless, Hellgum's evangelical megalomania and the Holy City's violence so powerfully described in the film seem all too contemporary. Unfortunately, the simple human goodness also so powerfully represented in "Jerusalem" now seems quaintly out-of-date.
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a masterpiece
restless-229 August 2006
This film is no less than a masterpiece--director Bille August's masterpiece! Selma Lagerlöf's novel described the Jerusalem syndrome 60 years prior to its diagnosis, and Bille August manages to capture the many levels of interior monologue. August takes the audience both to Sweden and the Middle East without painting nauseatingly glossy pictures. Neither does he cross any mines unintentional. The film shows the consequences of religious fanaticism as well as a piece of Scandinavian history. The pietist movements of the early 19th century are brought back to life and even modern, agnostic viewers can begin to understand what power the pietist preachers had among their followers.

Simply wonderful!
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This film touched me deeply
micke83fi14 October 2006
Warning: Spoilers
A usual problem in films with historical themes is that modern characters are put into a historical environment. The result is a loss of credibility and emotion. Jerusalem is an exception. Its main characters seem very genuine and honest.

We get to follow the tragic impact of revivalism on a small Swedish community and the love affair between two young people, who were supposed to be meant for each other. No clichés. Life doesn't always turn out the way it should.

The film awakened a lot of questions about the meaning of life, happiness and religion, despite my own slightly cynical and atheistic point of view. What do we actually value most? Love? In that case love for what? And what if we cant get what we love most, or if we have to make a very difficult choice?

The visual views are absolutely stunning. The mountainous landscape with lakes and flowing water was breathtaking and filled me with a feeling of deep longing and melancholy, as did the beauty and sad character of Gertrud, played by Marie Bonnevie. If one could just turn back time and change what was said and done.

A very strong scene is when Karin, who first might seem a bit distant and cold, discovers her maternal feelings. In all a very emotional and haunting cinematic experience.
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God and Country
scottcar12 May 2000
I enjoyed this mature, wise view of the human existence. The movie is very involving. The story line is critical of a Christian cult, but the last scene was a glorious affirmation of tradition, family and Church. The visuals are pleasingly luminous.
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How religion effects a small Swedish town
runamokprods18 July 2011
Very interesting study of the effects of religion, especially cult-like Christianity, in a small Swedish town at the turn of the 20th century.

Has a great feel for time and place, and some very moving moments.

It almost becomes a great film, but – at least on 1st viewing – there was too much missing from understanding some of he characters' choices (perhaps because this was edited down from a mini-series), and a few too many melodramatic twists (again, with more time that might have felt less bothersome as they might have felt less on top of each other.)

Certainly a film I could imagine re-visiting, and would love to see the full, longer version.
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truly unique acting
heypluto29 September 2006
Bille August is one of the world's best directors. He can get the most enchanting moments from his actors. And his "Jerusalem" is a very good example of it. Long uncut takes with only little dialog show intense and breathtaking acting skills from every actor/actress - especially Maria Bonnevie.

Examples of this are: The scene where Maria's character Gertrud is walking alone in the forest and has a vision of Jesus for the first time; and one of the last scenes in Jerusalem where she sits with her friend who tells her; "You have to forgive... otherwise you will never be able to love again." ...

If you want to see truly unique acting skills this is where you want to go.

Sadly it has not yet been released on DVD. I only have it on old VHS. Let us have a full special edition DVD soon please.
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Fascinated by the Holy Land
dromasca8 March 2009
Warning: Spoilers
Selma Lagerlof's novel and stories which are at the origin of this film tell an episode of the history of Scandinavia that is very little known for the rest of the world. Part of the film happens in the cold landscape of the North, a country of lakes and forests, under a blue frozen light. The other part takes place under the blinding light and torrid sun of the Palestine of the beginning of the 20th century. The connection between the two is the story of a group of Swedish farmers fallen under the influence of a messianic priest who takes them into an incredible journey to Jerusalem, in the search of redemption and with the hope to witness the return of Jesus.

Jerusalem today still bears witness of these times. While the original participants in this adventure are long dead, and their descendants left the Holy Land forever during the stormy times of the 20th century the American Colony which hosted them still exists in name as well as the Russian Grounds, the Italian Hospital, or the German Compound. All are memories of a 19th century when the powers of the time and their churches tried to buy a piece of land in the Holy City soon to be released from the Ottoman rule. The endeavor described in the film is contemporary with the beginnings of the Zionist project of return of the Jewish people to its ancestral homeland, and the experiences they go through, the accommodation with the new arid land, the hostile climate, the foreign culture and hard cohabitation with the inhabitants of the land, all these are common also to the stories of the Jewish immigration of the time.

Bille August's 'Jerusalem' is a well made film, beautifully filmed and well acted, although lacking somehow the spark and the inspiration to become a memorable film. The classical story has in its center the strong and rational Ingmar, connected to his land and devoted to the continuation of a mode of life and of morals inherited from his ancestors. His love to the sensible and mystic Gertrude has no chance of being realized, and their paths seem to diverge forever when she lives for Jerusalem to follow the mystic preacher. The final coming together is also a fulfilling of a premonition, and at the same time the annihilation by reality of the phantasms of the religious dream. The whole film is a continuous dialog between reason and faith, but neither the story, nor the director did not intent to provide a definite answer as to where the balance lies. As in real life, a mix of of the two is in the being of everything that happens.
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Swedish Christians going to Jerusalem
esteban17479 December 2002
It is a curiosity to see a Swedish film because of its quality and performance of the actors/actresses. This one is directed by Bille August, the same one of the "House of the Spirits", "Pelle Erobreren" and "Les Miserables" (1998). The religiousness of the members of the Swedish community is here shown, who once decided to go and to establish themselves in Jerusalem. Interesting scenes are in the film, one of the most convincing one is when Ingmar had sex for the first time with his wife, it was the desire of the woman to have something until that moment forbidden by his husband for her. The morale of the film could be that a couple may be in love for long, but this does not mean that they necessarily will be married, other circumstances may change the way the things were going.
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