Saturday, May 23, 2009

Elvira Madigan

Elvira Madigan; Romance, Sweden, 1967; D: Bo Widerberg, S: Pia Degermark, Thommy Berggren, Lennart Malmer

Danish countryside, 1889. Former tightrope star Elvira Madigan, whose name is actually Hedvig Jensen, enjoys in a romance with Swedish lieutenant Sixten Sparre. He deserted from the army and left his wife and kids just to be with Elvira. The young couple walks through the forest and arrives at a cottage where it settles, but they have to run because they were recognized. Sixten accidentally meets friend Kristoffer who begs him to return to the Swedish army, but he refuses. Since they don't have any money, Elvira finds a job for a performance, ut doesn't get anything because Sixten has a fight. Tired of hunger, they commit suicide with a gun.

Bo Widerberg, the director who criticized Bergman as a 'fake myth' and whose last film "All Things Fair" was nominated for an Oscar, crafted with "Elvira Madigan" a meditative, gentle biopic of the tragic title heroine. At first, the film starts out as an idyllic romance: Sixten gets stung by a bee in his butt, so Elvira (excellent Pia Degermark, who won the best actress award in Cannes) comforts him by jokingly "spanking" him. He shaves half of his beard but she constantly moves away the mirror so that he can't shave his other half, so he jokingly says: "Wanted: Sixten, a deserter from the army. Description: half a beard". However, the story quickly gains a bitter charge: the couple doesn't have any money, so they fight against hunger by eating berries from the forest, which isn't an alternative. Even though basically nothing is going on in the story, Widerberg surprisingly avoided boredom and retention of sense with his smooth calligraphy, while he didn't criticize the relationship between Elvira and Sixten (he left his wife for her) but enjoyed in the story, where he probably wanted to show the utopia of a simple couple in pure love that gets crushed by the outside world, creating an ostentative ballade.


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