successful international conductor suddenly interrupts his career and returns
alone to his childhood village in Norrland, in the far north of Sweden.
It doesn't take long before he is asked to come and listen to the fragment
of a church choir, which practises every Thursday in the parish hall. Just
come along and give a little bit of good advice. He can't say no, and from
that moment, nothing in the village is the same again. The choir develops
and grows. He makes both friends and enemies. And he finds love.
Nominated for an Oscar last year for Best Foreign Language Film of the Year,
As It Is In Heaven is a moving film about how one man unknowingly fulfils
his greatest desire in a place where he least expects it. This Swedish film
will leave you feeling inspired and possibly more appreciative in the motivating
and binding strength of music.
(Michael Nyqvist) is a world-renowned conductor who finds his life suddenly
put on hold when he suffers from a heart attack. Forced to take on a slower
pace of life, he moves back to the rural community from his childhood days
and before long begins a new journey in his life when he joins the church
choir as cantor, significantly affecting the lives of these locals, as they
in turn change his as well through their love of music.
with beautiful music, the story is set in the North of Sweden, where audiences
are visually treated to the rich and picturesque backdrop of the Norrland
countryside. The opening scene of a young boy playing his violin in a field
of golden tall grass is one that will probably stay in your mind even after
the movie ends. The camera angles and cinematography is shot beautifully
and artfully as our hero rediscovers his once familiar surroundings while
encountering new experiences – most of which involves the various
characters around him.
Pollack tackles some sensitive subjects using the account of our hero to
convey underlying messages about everyday social issues common in many societies,
as he encounters them through his relationships with the various choir members.
While some of the characters, such as the resentful and abusive husband
(depicted convincingly by Per Morberg), are built heavily on typical stereotypes
often seen in other movies, most of the other characters are actually quite
real and complex as we are shown pieces of their lives and problems.
All the actors deliver their roles well, particularly lead actor, Michael
Nyqvist whose character switches from a range of contrasting emotions, it
is captivating to watch him go from easy confidence to delicate fragility
between scenes. Frida Hellgren is one to watch for too, as she plays the
role of a vibrant young woman once a victim of town gossip, has been labelled
a slut since. While there are several scenes that may be a little melodramatic,
but there are some key ones that are expressively brilliant and poignant.
One such scene to note is when Gabriella (Helen Sjöholm) sings her
solo piece in the church – her voice is crystalline and her singing
is full of emotion and inner strength.
In a nutshell,
the plot of the movie is somewhat a combination of Dead Poet’s Society
meets Chocolat. Yet even though the plot may seem familiar, the way this
movie goes about telling Daniel’s story is one that is wonderfully
engaging and enthralling on its own. It is a remarkable story about living
life, the passion to pursue one’s dream and daring to be who you are.
Alas, there is nothing more on this dvd other than the movie itself, I would
have liked to watch an interview with the director and cast, if only to
learn more about this filmmaker.
in Dolby Digital 2.0, the only sounds to ‘hear’ out for is the
instrumental music, in addition to the choir singing.
natural landscape of Sweden serves as a luscious set – the colours
are vivid and rich, and the images are sharp and clear.
Review by Jolene Tan