Everlasting Moments – Eviga Ögonblick (2008) World Cinema Series – Sweden

At times bitter, at times beautiful, Everlasting Moments by Swedish filmmakerJan Troell is a movie like a painting. Filmed in sepia colored tones, it looks like one of those old photographs from the early 20th century. This is apt and artful at the same time as one of the major topics of the movie is photography. Photography as a means to capture moments, make them everlasting, but also photography as an art form and a source of hope in a bleak existence.

Based on a true story Everlasting Moments tells the story of Maria Larsson. She won a camera in a lottery, stored it somewhere in a cupboard and forgot all about it. Maria is a poor working woman, married to a brutal man, a drinker who hits her and their children. More than once she thinks of leaving him but after having asked the help of her father and been denied any, she slowly gives up. Her father tells her that in the eye of God it is a sin to leave your husband, no matter how he treats you.

Violence leads to her husband being arrested and when he is away, money gets scarce. She decides to sell the camera but Mr Pedersen, the owner of the camera shop, gives her some plates instead, and tells her to use it. What was it that made this gentle man realize that more than money, Maria needed something that would help her survive?

The only times in the movie in which Maria and her children lead a happy life is when the husband is in jail or enlists, when WWI breaks out. Unfortunately, every time, a few weeks after he has come back, she is pregnant again.

It is a slow movie, the shots are captivating, the music is in the background, quiet but underlines the pictures bu still it was hard to watch at times. The husband is so incredibly abusive and when Maria starts to make money with her shots, we do not understand why she stays with him. The same question is asked by her eldest daughter who narrates short parts.

I’m sure in an US movie, she would have left her husband and become a famous photographer. While stories like this do happen as well, the story of Maria Larsson, less grand, more quiet and hidden, is maybe more true to life.

Maria also finds solace in the friendship with Mr Pedersen. He sees the sadness in this woman, the potential and gives her the gift of an art form that will help her see beauty and make a little money. The actors, Maria Heiskanen as Maria, Mikael Persbrandt as her husband and Jesper Christensen as Mr Pedersen, are outstanding in their roles.

I read somewhere that Jan Troell was called a painterly director. This is an excellent expression but in this movie the shots often look like old photographs and are exquisite in all their details.

It was hard to watch how Maria’s man spoilt more than one moment but there was a lot of beauty in the movie. I found it particularly interesting to be reminded of how long it once took to take a picture. How careful you had to be, how complicated it was. Taking pictures was almost meditative, while now, it seems hundreds of images are taken in a very short time, and the process of really looking happens later, when they are sorted out.

Everlasting Moments is part of my World Cinema Series and a contribution to Richard’s Foreign Film Festival.

33 thoughts on “Everlasting Moments – Eviga Ögonblick (2008) World Cinema Series – Sweden

    • Yes it is but it shows so well what art can do for you. Phtography is a great topic for a movie. I think there are others but I cannot remember all the titles now. Fur is one but I have not seen it.

  1. This sounds like a very beautiful movie. Perhaps a little sad to watch alone at home (at least it might be for me), but I have noted it down in the hope to find it somewhere, someday.

    • Iris, it really is worth watching. It is sad and infuriating too. Hard to believe what she had to put up with. The cinematography however is so beautiful. Each shot like a photo. I hope you will like it.

  2. I haven’t seen a Swedish movie I didn’t like yet – even though I feel that it’s a quite “depressed” film industry; I mean, many of the movies are depressing.
    By the way, Jesper Christensen is a Danish actor – I like his work a lot.

    • Thanks for visiting , Mette, I haven’t seen all that many but I also liked what I have seen so far. I thought he could be Danish, he plays a Danish person in this movie. The movie is in Swedish but it’s a co-production I think.
      Maybe the films are a bit depressing but true to life.

    • I hope you will like it, Jenclair. It’s visually appaealing. I find these old cameras so fascinating and think the director really captured those old pictures well.

  3. I’ve been meaning to watch this – it played at the movie theater where I used to work and what I caught of it looked lovely. I am interested in the photography elements. I try to do a fair bit of “looking” when I snap my pictures, but as you say it is such a simple process now. I would like to study the older techniques someday. Thanks for this review – I will look forward to watching it.

    • I would be interested to hear what you think of the movie. It does depend on the camera how you will take your pictures. The movie really made me think how much phtography has chnaged. At that time only professionalys with some rare exceptions had a camera, that’s why she can start to make some money. It was so exclusive. Might have to write a post about that some day.

  4. Beautiful movie essay, Caroline! ‘Everlasting Moments’ has a beautiful premise and a poignant plot. Being able to experience beauty through an art form is the most wonderful thing in the world. It is sad that Maria’s husband is so abusive. You are silent about what happened in the end – I hope it is happy. Your thoughts on how much time it took to take a picture and then finally see it, made me nostalgic. It is amazing how much the world has changed in the past decade or so, mostly in good ways. But the romance of something like photography has been lost, because now it is just point and shoot. Which even a novice like me can do 🙂 I will look for the DVD version of this movie. Thanks for writing about this movie – I wouldn’t have discovered it otherwise.

    • Thanks Vishy, I’m glad you liked it.
      This movie was special for me because I started making pictures again. I do unfortunately only have Lumix digital camera, while it’s agood quality for a litle camera it has no view finder. And I don’t care, I just make a random ten and choose the best. I try to change this habit but it’s tempting.
      Hardyl anyone I know does develop their own films. That’s even less needed nowadays.
      I think the German crime novelist Petra Hammesfahr, freed herself from an abusive marriage through writing. Art can balance or even free you. Another aspect that is wonderful in the movie.
      I hope you will find it and like it.

      • Nice to know that you have started making pictures again. Hope you are having fun doing that. I didn’t know that there were cameras without viewfinders.

        My first camera was a film camera and I remember the time I used to carry it around with me with a lot of spare film rolls and take pictures. Sometimes after getting a film roll developed I used to get frustrated because I discovered in the final photo print that my hand had shook slightly when I had taken the picture and the photo was blurred 🙂

        Interesting to know about Petra Hammesfahr. She is really brave for having managed a tough situation like this. I liked very much your observation – “Art can balance or even free you” – so beautifully put!

        • It’s a small digital camera that’s why it has no viewfinder but it’s quite good. It was frustrating to wait for films to develop and find out many photos were not to be used. I like digital photography. I think all art can be therapeutic. It’s nicely shown in the movie.
          I enjoy taking pictures but I’m really only experimenting.

  5. Great review.

    In the Musée des Frères Lumière in Lyon, they explain all about photography and early film-making. I remember I was surprised at how long people had to stay still to have their picture taken, at the beginning.

    I don’t know this movie; I have the feeling I’m going to discover a lot of new films with your project.

    • Thanks Emma. I think you would like it. It captures a lot and made me also realize that despite the fact that I watch only 40% US movies, I still some how wait for a “classic” happy ending. The movie ends on a positive note but not at all how we would expect.
      I’m sure that is a great museum… One more reason for a trip to Lyon. 🙂
      Movies like this one require as much attention as a book.
      It would be great if you discover the one or the other film you will enjoy (like the Besson book – I just read your review but couldn’t comment yet).

  6. I like the photography angle to this story, Caroline, although I’m almost disappointed that you didn’t choose a Swede crime movie to share with us (ha ha, my little book blog joke). By the way, I’m having a hard time deciding which movies to review for these two challenges–have seen two French movies this week I liked, but I don’t really have any interest in writing about them at the moment. Belmondo was super charismatic in Léon Morin Prêtre, though!

    • Hehe… Do not despair…I got a Danish movie which is a crime story.
      Hmm come to think of it, I could review Miss Smilla. Just for you. I got a German copy somewhere that was free in a newspaper.
      I know what you mean, I’m not reviewing all of the movies I watch and will most probably leave out the ones I didn’t like. I also don’t want to add too many of the same country.

  7. I have 2 movie reviews postponed due to that one mini series. and also my annoying computer 😦

    The movie sounds nice but I don’t think I want to watch it as you pointed out as slow movie. I remember The Girl with pearl earing…beautiful cinematography but extremely slow …even Cillian cant save me from boredom.

    but still, its a nice review

    • It is very slow but entirely different from “Girl with a Pearl Earring” as it’s a true story and you really want to know what will happen to her. The year has only started, I’m sure you’ll manage a few years before it ends. 🙂

  8. I like what you say about how the film would have been different if Hollywood had got hold of it. So true! I appreciate films that defer to reality – it’s nice to see occasionally!

    • It was interesting that I expected the a Hollywood ending. We are quite conditioned, I think. The US film industry is so powerful. It’s an aim of the series to show people – there is another cinema out there and the some of those movies may be as worthwhile as the best of literary fictcion.

  9. It seems fitting that a movie that deals with photography should be so ‘painterly’–particularly considering the time it was set. It sounds good–another one to add to my Netflix queue!

    • I guess he chose the topic because he has a very strong affinity for the topic and that’s why it worked so well. I’ll be interested to hear what you think of it.

  10. Pingback: World Cinema Series – Wrap up and Winner Announcement « Beauty is a Sleeping Cat

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