August 11, 2010
Based on true events and set in the early 1900s, Everlasting Moments (Maria Larssons eviga ögonblick, 2008) is the latest feature film from Swedish filmmaking veteran Jan Troell (Here’s Your Life, 1966, As White as in Snow, 2001). Maria Larsson (brilliantly and stoically performed by Maria Heiskanen) is an ordinary working class woman whose life is defined by the family she serves until she one day discovers a literal and figurative new way in which to perceive: through the enabling apparatus of a camera won in a raffle, Maria is shocked to find that she of all people is “endowed with the gift of seeing”.
Narrated by Maria’s eldest daughter, Maja, but dramatically aligned with Maria’s POV, Everlasting Moments is formally set up to offer differing perspectives on a single narrative to further reiterate its emphasis on the importance of personal perception and the resultant visual memory it creates. From the most elementary of lessons in light refraction; which we are taught in accordance with Maria’s innocence, “I just don’t see how a picture comes about”; to understanding the significance and emotion with which humans afford an image that might just “capture” the essence of a person or a moment in time; “photography” is contextualised within its greater historical narrative reflecting the “true events” (as we are told they are), always in an effort to self-authenticate. As such, the film continually refers to its own medium’s theoretical underpinnings.
An otherwise incredibly engaging and involved drama, Everlasting Moments doesn’t appear to be interested in saying anything decidedly “new” about the medium of photography or its transformative effects in an historically transient time. More interested however in an exploration of the “personal as political”, the film at least nods to the social issues of its time and the impending Great War which made it possible to conceive that “soon Europe will no longer have borders”. At a temporal and spatial intersection in history where borders are threatened, the continued introduction and advancement of the photographic medium subtly and poignantly indicates its own liminal place within the film. Strong and meditative, Everlasting Moments is a fine film indeed.
Everlasting Moments is released in Australian cinemas on Thursday August 12 through Icon.