As It Is in Heaven


2h 10m 2005

Brief Synopsis

An internationally acclaimed orchestra conductor returns to his childhood home after suffering from a breakdown. Here he not only finds a new life for himself, he also inspires the locals in the choir.

Film Details

Also Known As
As in Heaven, Sa som i himmelen
Release Date
2005
Production Company
Cine Tirol; Danish Film Institute (Dfi); Nordic Film & TV Fond; PathT International; Pro Film Ltd. (Bulgaria); Sveriges Television (Svt); Swedish Film Institute
Distribution Company
Sonet Film AB; 20th Century Fox International; A-Film Distribution; Bir Film; Cathay Film Organization; Edko Films; Fs Film Oy; PathT International; Polyfilm Verleih Gmbh; Prokino Filmverleih Gmbh; Rialto Distribution; Rialto Films; SF Studios; SF Studios; Ster-Kinekor; Svensk Filmindustri Norway

Technical Specs

Duration
2h 10m

Synopsis

An internationally acclaimed orchestra conductor returns to his childhood home after suffering from a breakdown. Here he not only finds a new life for himself, he also inspires the locals in the choir.

Film Details

Also Known As
As in Heaven, Sa som i himmelen
Release Date
2005
Production Company
Cine Tirol; Danish Film Institute (Dfi); Nordic Film & TV Fond; PathT International; Pro Film Ltd. (Bulgaria); Sveriges Television (Svt); Swedish Film Institute
Distribution Company
Sonet Film AB; 20th Century Fox International; A-Film Distribution; Bir Film; Cathay Film Organization; Edko Films; Fs Film Oy; PathT International; Polyfilm Verleih Gmbh; Prokino Filmverleih Gmbh; Rialto Distribution; Rialto Films; SF Studios; SF Studios; Ster-Kinekor; Svensk Filmindustri Norway

Technical Specs

Duration
2h 10m

Award Nominations

Best Foreign Language Film

2004

Articles

As It Is in Heaven - AS IT IS IN HEAVEN - 2004 Critically Acclaimed Swedish film on DVD


Set in a seemingly idyllic village in rural Sweden, As It Is in Heaven splits the difference between heartwarming small town comedy of an outsider bonding with eccentric inhabitants and spiky drama of the insular town that turns its head to the ugly truths beneath the gentle surface.

The outside is workaholic musician turned internationally renowned classic music conductor Daniel Daréus (Michael Nyqvist, star of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and its sequels). "Ever since I was a little boy, I had a dream to create music to open people's hearts," he explains in the opening scenes, an idyllic moment of a child playing violin in a sunny field that, like so many moments of his life, twist into a portrait of a cruel world trying to beat his dreams down. Orphaned as a young teen, he's raised by a manager and throw into a career without a personal life. His passion for music and drive for perfection get twisted into a kind of tyranny and he conducts as if battling a demon, sweating and bleeding until it finally takes its toll: a heart attack.

Prescribed complete rest, he buys an abandoned schoolhouse and moves back to the village where he was born. No one remembers the little boy who was bullied for his dedication to music (he changed his name for his professional career) and he's not quick to remind them. He merely wants to "hear the silence" in isolation, at least until a friendly blonde grocery checker, Lena (Frida Hallgren) and the local entrepreneur and town booster Arne (Lennart Jähkel) draw him into the church choir and, to his own surprise, he offers himself as the church cantor and choir leader. The Pastor (Niklas Falk, who recalls the cold restraint and chilly authority of Max von Sydow in Ingmar Bergman's films), is a chilly, severe man under an unsure smile and he nervously watches this small group take on a life of its own as Daniel helps the members of this small town choir find their voices in every way.

Musically they discover rich sounds and inspiring harmonies that they never imagined themselves capable of, while personally they are empowered to speak up and speak out against injustices that they have all collectively kept silent about. And having each found their voice, writer/director Kay Pollack gives them each a moment to speak out, which helps draw the film out to well over two hours. There must be an accusation of injustice or a stand of self-actualization every fifteen minutes or so as each of the major figures in the choir sounds off and the audience is pulled through another emotional outpouring into a moment of recognition and communal embrace.

As contrived and schematic as it sounds (and sometimes plays out), Pollack invests us in the potential of these characters as they flower under Daniel's nurturing direction. Their steps toward clearing the air and healing neglected wounds ultimately pulls them together and they evolve into a community bonded over shared music, food (communal meals become part of the rehearsal ritual) and finally a sense of responsibility for one another. They don't always lose their prickly edges but they are certainly smoothed down a bit as their concern for one another develops.

Through it all we watch the emotionally guarded Daniel connect with the townspeople (and especially Lena, who is recovering from emotional wounds of her own) with a compassion and affection that he has (we assume) denied himself in his lonely professional career. He allows himself to desire, to empathize, to be inspired by them (he writes "Gabriella's Song" to give voice and support to an abused woman in his choir, and her voice gives his lyrics a power beyond the words). When he exclaims to his former mentor, "These people love me and I love them," the smile on his face and in his eyes are all we need to know that this is unexplored territory for the once unforgivingly driven professional and it gives him new life.

As It Is in Heaven was Sweden's entry to the 2005 Academy Awards and one of the five final nominees for Best Foreign Language Film (it lost to The Sea Inside from Spain). In one sense it's a film that seems to cover all the bases: there's romance, eccentric characters, idyllic summer romps through the rural Swedish countryside, spouse abuse, small town hypocrisy, rebellion against an emotionally starved religious authority and a finally a loving community healed by the power of music and empathy. There's even a little sex in it, courtesy of a skinny-dipping outing by free-spirited Lena. This is the exactly what critics mean by "a feel good film," and this film earns it thanks to the compassion and conviction of Pollack.

Kino's widescreen DVD looks fine and nicely shows off the winter snowscapes and the lush forests and deep blue lakes in the summer. There are no supplements. In Swedish with English subtitles.

For more information about As It Is in Heaven, visit Kino International. To order As It Is In Heaven, go to TCM Shopping.

by Sean Axmaker
As It Is In Heaven - As It Is In Heaven - 2004 Critically Acclaimed Swedish Film On Dvd

As It Is in Heaven - AS IT IS IN HEAVEN - 2004 Critically Acclaimed Swedish film on DVD

Set in a seemingly idyllic village in rural Sweden, As It Is in Heaven splits the difference between heartwarming small town comedy of an outsider bonding with eccentric inhabitants and spiky drama of the insular town that turns its head to the ugly truths beneath the gentle surface. The outside is workaholic musician turned internationally renowned classic music conductor Daniel Daréus (Michael Nyqvist, star of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and its sequels). "Ever since I was a little boy, I had a dream to create music to open people's hearts," he explains in the opening scenes, an idyllic moment of a child playing violin in a sunny field that, like so many moments of his life, twist into a portrait of a cruel world trying to beat his dreams down. Orphaned as a young teen, he's raised by a manager and throw into a career without a personal life. His passion for music and drive for perfection get twisted into a kind of tyranny and he conducts as if battling a demon, sweating and bleeding until it finally takes its toll: a heart attack. Prescribed complete rest, he buys an abandoned schoolhouse and moves back to the village where he was born. No one remembers the little boy who was bullied for his dedication to music (he changed his name for his professional career) and he's not quick to remind them. He merely wants to "hear the silence" in isolation, at least until a friendly blonde grocery checker, Lena (Frida Hallgren) and the local entrepreneur and town booster Arne (Lennart Jähkel) draw him into the church choir and, to his own surprise, he offers himself as the church cantor and choir leader. The Pastor (Niklas Falk, who recalls the cold restraint and chilly authority of Max von Sydow in Ingmar Bergman's films), is a chilly, severe man under an unsure smile and he nervously watches this small group take on a life of its own as Daniel helps the members of this small town choir find their voices in every way. Musically they discover rich sounds and inspiring harmonies that they never imagined themselves capable of, while personally they are empowered to speak up and speak out against injustices that they have all collectively kept silent about. And having each found their voice, writer/director Kay Pollack gives them each a moment to speak out, which helps draw the film out to well over two hours. There must be an accusation of injustice or a stand of self-actualization every fifteen minutes or so as each of the major figures in the choir sounds off and the audience is pulled through another emotional outpouring into a moment of recognition and communal embrace. As contrived and schematic as it sounds (and sometimes plays out), Pollack invests us in the potential of these characters as they flower under Daniel's nurturing direction. Their steps toward clearing the air and healing neglected wounds ultimately pulls them together and they evolve into a community bonded over shared music, food (communal meals become part of the rehearsal ritual) and finally a sense of responsibility for one another. They don't always lose their prickly edges but they are certainly smoothed down a bit as their concern for one another develops. Through it all we watch the emotionally guarded Daniel connect with the townspeople (and especially Lena, who is recovering from emotional wounds of her own) with a compassion and affection that he has (we assume) denied himself in his lonely professional career. He allows himself to desire, to empathize, to be inspired by them (he writes "Gabriella's Song" to give voice and support to an abused woman in his choir, and her voice gives his lyrics a power beyond the words). When he exclaims to his former mentor, "These people love me and I love them," the smile on his face and in his eyes are all we need to know that this is unexplored territory for the once unforgivingly driven professional and it gives him new life. As It Is in Heaven was Sweden's entry to the 2005 Academy Awards and one of the five final nominees for Best Foreign Language Film (it lost to The Sea Inside from Spain). In one sense it's a film that seems to cover all the bases: there's romance, eccentric characters, idyllic summer romps through the rural Swedish countryside, spouse abuse, small town hypocrisy, rebellion against an emotionally starved religious authority and a finally a loving community healed by the power of music and empathy. There's even a little sex in it, courtesy of a skinny-dipping outing by free-spirited Lena. This is the exactly what critics mean by "a feel good film," and this film earns it thanks to the compassion and conviction of Pollack. Kino's widescreen DVD looks fine and nicely shows off the winter snowscapes and the lush forests and deep blue lakes in the summer. There are no supplements. In Swedish with English subtitles. For more information about As It Is in Heaven, visit Kino International. To order As It Is In Heaven, go to TCM Shopping. by Sean Axmaker

Quotes

Trivia

Miscellaneous Notes

Exclusive Release in United States May 2, 2008

Released in United States 2005

Shown at Seattle International Film Festival (Contemporary World Cinema & Women in Cinema) May 19-June 12, 2005.

Exclusive Release in United States May 2, 2008

Released in United States 2005 (Shown at Seattle International Film Festival (Contemporary World Cinema & Women in Cinema) May 19-June 12, 2005.)