Everlasting Moments: Criterion Collection
July 1, 2010
Everlasting Moments (2008) is veteran Swedish filmmaker Jan Troell’s 14th feature film. He is the auteur of such critically acclaimed films as The Emigrants (1971) and The New Land (1972). His latest effort is a moving love letter to the art of photography. This is evident right from the opening credits that play over loving shots of a 1910s era camera. Troell even shoots the film through a sepia-coloured filter giving it the look of an old photograph.
Maria (Heiskanen) and Sigfrid Larsson (Persbrandt) have a tumultuous marriage. He’s a hard-drinking dock worker while she raises their four children. The film is narrated by one of her daughters. At times, Maria and Sigfrid’s relationship is a loving one but he has a wicked temper that is only worsened by alcohol. He becomes a violent drunk that abuses his wife. One day, she takes in an old camera that was won in a lottery to get fixed and this routine chore changes her life.
Pedersen (Christensen), the shopkeeper, shows her how to use it and how to develop her own photographs. Meanwhile, Sigfrid discovers socialism and becomes part of a strike staged by his fellow workers. Maria starts off doing simple portraits of her children and the family cat. She shows a real eye for detail and use of light. Soon, a neighbour asks her to photograph her recently deceased child as a kind of keepsake.
Everlasting Moments is a beautifully shot film with some stunning images, like that of a streetcar traveling through the snow at night with Maria and her children in silhouette as they watch it go by. The film examines how Maria’s love of photography improves her lot in life. Everlasting Moments is a touching, sometimes moving story about a woman and her passion for photography, anchored by a strong, authentic performance by Maria Heiskanen. Troell opts for subtlety and nuance in every scene which is refreshing compared to blatantly emotionally manipulative Hollywood fare.
The first disc includes the theatrical trailer.
The second disc started off with “Troell Behind the Camera,” a 2007 making of documentary done during the production of the film. He muses about how digital photography takes some of the magic and skill out of it. He was drawn to and identified with what photography meant to Maria. The surviving children are interviewed and talk about their father’s violent temper. We see script meetings, rehearsals and footage of the cast and crew filming on location. Troell comes across as a very thoughtful and intelligent artist.
“The True Story of Maria Larsson” is a documentary that takes a look at her photos while also examining her life. In 1900, she won a camera in a lottery. Her story is told through her photos. She was a poor, working-class woman. She scrubbed and sewed for a living. Photography was her escape from this drudgery. There are lots of insights into this woman’s fascinating life.
Finally, there is “Troell’s Magic Mirror,” an hour-long documentary that examines his career, spanning his breakthrough films to his brief stint in Hollywood and up to his latest film. He talks about his philosophy of filmmaking. This is an excellent primer for those unfamiliar with his work.