Maria Larssons eviga ögonblick aka Everlasting Moments (2008) Sweden
BASED ON A TRUE STORY
Maja Oman’s memoir about her mother, Maria Larsson (in real life, about the director’s wife’s grandfather’s sister, Maria), and about growing up during the turn of the century through the end of the First World War in Sweden. Maria is a Swedish working class woman who wins a camera in a lottery and goes on to become a photographer.
Director Jan Troell, a former elementary school teacher, is known as “Sweden’s greatest living director and an artist behind the camera.”
This film is nothing less than a gourmet food-fest for photographers and all visual artists. For others, like me, it’s just crazy beautiful. It would seem that the concept of MOMENTS (taken from the title) is effortlessly captured in this album within an album about a life and its time. The sepia tones, perfectly harmonized with the period and sentiments, are soothing and provide a counterpoint to Maria Larsson’s way of seeing (and being). You will feed freely and never feel full.
Troell elegantly freeze-frames many important shots (moments) into photographs (moments) captured by Maria. The film footage leading up to and away from Maria’s takes beautifully bookends her work. Jan Troell knows that a picture speaks a thousand words (I always think of it as a thousand stories), so there is no dialogue, music or other special effects to accompany or enhance these moments. They stand alone and speak for themselves.
My favorite pic, pick, shot, scene, moment, whatever.
When Sebastian re-creates the moth in Maria’s palm: the fact that it’s a moth, its fluttering against the window pane, the light, Maria’s reaction, Sebastian’s satisfaction, love, freedom, art. Ephemeral as it is, ordinary, dull, and yet beautiful for the day it lives to see, more delicate than baby’s breath, it is as if the moth touches Maria through its reflection and awakens the dormant artist in her. Later in the film, Maria sets another moth free by touching it (barely) and nudging it on its way.
I love that one of Maria’s children nicknames Sebastian piff, paff, puff (the equivalent of saying “cheese” before taking a picture). It renders the magic of the camera and the process of photography so simply and beautifully.
I love the music of MOMENTS by Matti Bye. You will have to experience it.
MOMENTS reminds me of Born Into Brothels, a documentary that also celebrates the power of art as life-changing and life-empowering. Troell transmits this energy from his camera into Maria’s Contessa, from his eyes into hers, and in so doing delivers an everlasting homage to the life of Maria, his wife’s grandfather’s sister, to women, to photography, and to art. It would be great to see the actual pictures that the real Maria took, and I am told that the dvd bonus material focuses on the real-life connection and a look at the actual photographs in “The True Story of Maria Larsson” (9 minutes, 15 seconds) and for part of the documentary “Troell Behind the Camera” (28 mins.).
And, also, this lovely essay by Armond White @ the Criterion Collection.