Everlasting Moments

| March 4, 2009

Everlasting Moments is a beautiful, quiet, and subtle film about the power of hope. It tells the story of a woman’s family in a poverty-ridden Sweden in the early 1900s, with moments of happiness, despair, hatred, and love – each beside a passion for photography and light. Maria Larsson’s life is in turmoil; her hopes for a happy marriage are destroyed with every passing disappointment in her husband, Sigfrid. Maria’s discovery of her talent gives her a reason to hope again, a purpose other than simply caring for her children and wishing her husband’s alcoholism away. It is that very hope and independence that allows her to carry on in situations that would cause countless others to despair.
Although there have been several films about the early period of photography and the effects felt on those living during that time, I have never seen a film like this one. Maria’s power of sight enables her to find her own voice, an independence and strength that she has never felt in her marriage, let alone in her life. Her photographer friend Sabastian Pedersen helps her to understand her gift of sight by supplying her with the plates and chemicals necessary to photograph. It is as if from the first moment he meets her he can sense the light within her; to him she is beautiful, and he wants to help her in any way he can to realize her own beauty through her images. A man in striking contrast with her womanizing husband, Maria can’t help but to feel the stirrings of affection for Pedersen and his kindness. The camera is what brought Maria and Sigfrid together in marriage; and it is the rediscovery of the camera and the awakening of Maria’s passion that allows her a sense of worth and happiness that the marriage had long since depleted.
Everlasting Moments is told through the perspective of Maria’s eldest daughter, Maja. Maja’s eyes miss nothing; she records her family’s story with an honesty to rival the light and beauty captured by her mother’s camera. Maja’s observation, although unfailing and seemingly unbiased, disallows her to understand why her mother will not leave her father. But it is as if the camera’s capability of recording moments forever allows Maria to concentrate on the happy times and gives her the strength to persevere for the sake of her children.
The performances are better than even an emotional story such as this one would require. Maria Heiskanen is the perfect Maria Larsson; quiet with a sense of depth, longing, and sadness. The other three leads, Sigfrid, Sebastian Pedersen, and Maja, played by Mikael Persbrandt, Jesper Christensen, aand Callin Öhrvall, are fantastic as well, particularly Öhrvall. Her Maja is perfect – she conveys Maja’s love for her family along with her unhappiness at their situation, and resentment toward her father as well as hope for their future.
Naturally a film that relies so much on the power of photography must be beautiful, and Everlasting Moments does not disappoint. There are shots that are so gorgeous they enable the viewer to feel as though they are seeing for the first time, such as the characters feel upon seeing Maria’s first photograph. Although some aesthetically pleasing films can be so overwhelming as to distract from the story, this is never the case with Jan Troell’s film; every shot is subtle enough to form the environment in which Maria’s family lives with realism and honesty, but beautiful enough to elicit the viewer’s appreciation.
Everlasting Moments honestly displays the moments that define a family, and all the ebbs and flows that can occur through the passing of time. They are the moments that shape a lifetime, that form a marriage, that raise children to adulthood.

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