A Mastery of Grand and Fine Details in 'Everlasting Moments'

Jan Troell's exploration of the nuts and bolts of old-school photography feels particularly archaic and his imagery achingly nostalgic.

Everlasting Moments

Director: Jan Troell
Cast: Maria Heiskanen, Mikael Persbrandt, Jesper Christensen, Nellie Almgren
Distributor: Criterion
UK Release Date: 2010-06-29
US Release Date: 2010-06-29

A montage of blinking shutters, lenses, gears clicking metal on metal, nuts and bolts – all of the guts of a camera – opens Swedish director Jan Troell's newest film Everlasting Moments. In our current digital, instant age, where we snap "candid" poses with our iPhones and upload images straight to Twitter and Facebook, this particularly archaic imagery feels achingly nostalgic. The objects are almost foreign, at the very least forgotten.

Just as "forgotten" in this unholy marriage of electronics and photography is what Henri Cartier-Bresson called "the moment of intention" – the split seconds that pass between conceptualizing the image in the photographer's head, the button on the camera being pressed and the delay between human and machine. What is truly meant to be captured, Bresson would argue, never really materializes. That lag between man and machine, the space in between intention and execution is what Troell captures deftly in his film, a subtly feminist fairy tale set the early 20th century.

Maria Larsson (Maria Heiskanen), according to the narration provided by a grown daughter in the film's first moments, won a camera and a husband, Sigfrid (Mikael Persbrandt), on the same day in a raffle. Though both the husband and the camera will forever change her life, only one will be for the better. "You see what you want to see", claims the narrator, and this sentiment is true for both Maria the burgeoning artist and shutterbug, as well as for Maria the put-upon wife and mother. Lest you think that Everlasting Moments is some kind of rose-colored rumination on motherhood and the discovery of passions, or a navel-gazing account of a simple love of the photographic medium, Troell immediately introduces an element of brutality and frankness amidst the amber-hued, antiqued treatment that feels both old and glowing (Criterion's transfer of the IFC print is exceptional, and each color and detail is immaculate).

As he proved with his earlier cross-over successes in the '70s, The Emigrants and The New Land (Previously available only on Criterion's laserdiscs, The Emigrants and The New Land feel ripe for a repackaging and are currently unavailable to R1 DVD), Troell has an eye for architectural detail and symmetry in the every day very much like Cartier-Bresson's and film director Alexander Korda's. The director is unflinching in his depiction of the hard-scrabble lives of the poor, struggling, starving working class and of a unique array of women, who were considered invisible at the time. In his older films and in this new one, Troell again proves to be at ease with both the epic nature of this story, as well as the finer details.

Nominated for The Emigrants against his fellow countryman Ingmar Bergman (Cries and Whispers) for 1972's Best Director Academy Award (the only time two Swedish-language auteurs have ever faced off against one another in the category), Troell can be favorably compared to another film director who works impactfully, yet infrequently: Terrence Malick. Malick, like Troell, has a dreamily poetic, cinematic way of looking at the themes of passion, discovery, technology, and Darwinian nature. The critical essay, provided by the New York Press' (usually) contraversial Armond White goes into detail about Troell's body of work but lacks any real vigor or insight beyond the themes the director used across his 14 films and feels rather perfunctory. Other special features on Disc Two include two comprehesive documentaries on Troell's career and a collection of Larsson's photographs, which somewhat makes up for the benign musings by White.

Everlasting Moments is full to the brim with striking images. The trolley cutting through the city streets on a snowy, foggy night; the way Maria smiles and relaxes whenever she holds her camera; and the silhouetted moth projected onto her palm in the photo shop beautifully, simply illustrate that this is a film not necessarily about history or family, but about the birth of an artist and how that very word – artist – can embody so many different definitions and takes many forms. Everlasting Moments skillfully blends all of these themes and captures a bittersweet mix of light and dark, violence and romance, old and new. The film is about loving images and surrenduring to them, but it is also about the moment in which one woman discovers her purpose. It is about one brave woman's "moment of intention" and what she sees, unfettered by gender, class and age.


So far J. J. Abrams and Rian Johnson resemble children at play, remaking the films they fell in love with. As an audience, however, we desire a fuller experience.

As recently as the lackluster episodes I-III of the Star Wars saga, the embossed gold logo followed by scrolling prologue text was cause for excitement. In the approach to the release of any of the then new prequel installments, the Twentieth Century Fox fanfare, followed by the Lucas Film logo, teased one's impulsive excitement at a glimpse into the next installment's narrative. Then sat in the movie theatre on the anticipated day of release, the sight and sound of the Twentieth Century Fox fanfare signalled the end of fevered anticipation. Whatever happened to those times? For some of us, is it a product of youth in which age now denies us the ability to lose ourselves within such adolescent pleasure? There's no answer to this question -- only the realisation that this sensation is missing and it has been since the summer of 2005. Star Wars is now a movie to tick off your to-watch list, no longer a spark in the dreary reality of the everyday. The magic has disappeared… Star Wars is spiritually dead.

Keep reading... Show less

This has been a remarkable year for shoegaze. If it were only for the re-raising of two central pillars of the initial scene it would still have been enough, but that wasn't even the half of it.

It hardly needs to be said that the last 12 months haven't been everyone's favorite, but it does deserve to be noted that 2017 has been a remarkable year for shoegaze. If it were only for the re-raising of two central pillars of the initial scene it would still have been enough, but that wasn't even the half of it. Other longtime dreamers either reappeared or kept up their recent hot streaks, and a number of relative newcomers established their place in what has become one of the more robust rock subgenre subcultures out there.

Keep reading... Show less

​'The Ferryman': Ephemeral Ideas, Eternal Tragedies

The current cast of The Ferryman in London's West End. Photo by Johan Persson. (Courtesy of The Corner Shop)

Staggeringly multi-layered, dangerously fast-paced and rich in characterizations, dialogue and context, Jez Butterworth's new hit about a family during the time of Ireland's the Troubles leaves the audience breathless, sweaty and tearful, in a nightmarish, dry-heaving haze.

"Vanishing. It's a powerful word, that"

Northern Ireland, Rural Derry, 1981, nighttime. The local ringleader of the Irish Republican Army gun-toting comrades ambushes a priest and tells him that the body of one Seamus Carney has been recovered. It is said that the man had spent a full ten years rotting in a bog. The IRA gunslinger, Muldoon, orders the priest to arrange for the Carney family not to utter a word of what had happened to the wretched man.

Keep reading... Show less

Aaron Sorkin's real-life twister about Molly Bloom, an Olympic skier turned high-stakes poker wrangler, is scorchingly fun but never takes its heroine as seriously as the men.

Chances are, we will never see a heartwarming Aaron Sorkin movie about somebody with a learning disability or severe handicap they had to overcome. This is for the best. The most caffeinated major American screenwriter, Sorkin only seems to find his voice when inhabiting a frantically energetic persona whose thoughts outrun their ability to verbalize and emote them. The start of his latest movie, Molly's Game, is so resolutely Sorkin-esque that it's almost a self-parody. Only this time, like most of his better work, it's based on a true story.

Keep reading... Show less

There's something characteristically English about the Royal Society, whereby strangers gather under the aegis of some shared interest to read, study, and form friendships and in which they are implicitly agreed to exist insulated and apart from political differences.

There is an amusing detail in The Curious World of Samuel Pepys and John Evelyn that is emblematic of the kind of intellectual passions that animated the educated elite of late 17th-century England. We learn that Henry Oldenburg, the first secretary of the Royal Society, had for many years carried on a bitter dispute with Robert Hooke, one of the great polymaths of the era whose name still appears to students of physics and biology. Was the root of their quarrel a personality clash, was it over money or property, over love, ego, values? Something simple and recognizable? The precise source of their conflict was none of the above exactly but is nevertheless revealing of a specific early modern English context: They were in dispute, Margaret Willes writes, "over the development of the balance-spring regulator watch mechanism."

Keep reading... Show less
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.