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Everlasting Moments

Everlasting Moments

A Review of Everlasting Moments. (2009). Written by Niklas Rdstrm. Story by Jan Troell. Directed by Jan Troell.
Author: Joyce King Heyraud
DOI: 10.1080/00332920903102927
Publication Frequency: 4 issues per year
Published in:  Psychological Perspectives, Volume 52, Issue 3 July 2009 , pages 406 - 407  

Everlasting Moments is a feast for the eyes, an elegantly photographed Swedish film about the art of photography and the transformative mystery of the creative spirit. Like a diary sprung to life, the narrative voice introducing her mother, Maria (Maria Heiskanen) melds with the light-infused, sepia-toned images, transporting the audience into a mood of deeply emotional resonance. There are no explosive pictures, like those that instantly pop up on our modern computer screens, only slowly formed, deeply evocative scintilla of life in Sweden at the beginning of the last century.

Jan Troell captures the personal immediacy of the moment as well as the archetypal essence. Although Maria's story is rooted in another era, it carries a timeless quality. It is a story of how the hardships of a woman are mitigated and healed by the creative urge; how the visitation of the muse has no linear time or place.

The film is an intimate chronicle inspired by the grandmother of Jan Troell's wife. The story begins around 1901 with a glimpse of Maria and her husband Sigfrid (Mikael Persbrandt) in a moment of youthful innocence. The joyful image of the couple in a dancing embrace is shattered by Sigfrid's alcoholism. Maria endures her husband's drunken abuse in submission to collective values and the mantra from her dying father that she must remain married under any and all circumstances. With a tenacious pride and dignity, Maria manages the house and raises seven children. The proximity of war and the daily indignities of poverty do not obstruct the amazing force of Maria's life spirit.

The inspired acting of Maria Heiskanen portrays a woman who is woefully challenged by the brutalities of life and haunted by despair, but who does not fall victim to the ravages of bitterness. The power of the acting and subtle maneuvers of the directing combine to express deep emotion that moves beyond sentimentality.

During a precarious financial drought, Maria decides to sell an unused camera that she won in a lottery. At this pivotal moment she meets the shop owner, Sebastian Pedersen (Jesper Christensen), who, prompted by Eros and intuition, persuades her to keep the camera and explore the world of photography. He tells her, “Not everyone is endowed with the gift of seeing.” If this were a dream, Sebastian could symbolize Maria's encounter with the creative daemon.

There is an exquisite unfolding of Maria's experience of the creative process. When she finds herself completely transfixed by the mysterious beauty of an icicle that is suspended outside her window, she is astonished to discover that the camera's lens can capture the transcendent essence of the moment. Through the force of imagination and attention to detail she captures what is extraordinary in the beauty and pain of everyday life. Despite poverty and deprivation, Maria breaks through barriers of gender and class and surprises even herself by becoming the local portraitist.

She also discovers that the spark of the creative daemon can be alternately demonic by interrupting the stream of life, sometimes even threatening the threshold of responsibility. There is a scene in which Maria is so involved with her photography that she almost loses track of a child who is in physical danger and in immediate need of attention. In a haunted moment, she reflects on the power of the muse and the fine and subtle line between productivity and destruction. She is aware of the balance that must be struck lest the creative daemon become too demanding. Because of her keen sense of responsibility, the thrust of her artistic inspiration serves as a healing force for herself and her family.

Maria's attitude when taking a photograph has a quiet emotionality and deeply personal resonance. The intimate mood is palpable; it is not surprising that some of Maria's actual photographs are included in the film. An inner vision inspires the pictures that slowly emerge from the darkroom, an homage to the power of the image and the mysterious source of the creative process.

Acknowledgments
Joyce King Heyraud, Ph.D., is a Jungian analyst in private practice in Pacific Palisades, CA and film editor of Psychological Perspectives.
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