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A Little Bit of Eden in Sweden

By Sparkle Soojian

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Standing ovations are a rare occurrence all of its own, but even more rare if not unheard of is a standing ovation that lasts six minutes long. Two minutes of clapping may cause one's hands to grow numb, but by six minutes they've got to be ready to fall off. However, that didn't stop Berlin International Film Festival attendees from giving Sweden's "As it is in Heaven" a six minute applause.

A wonderful Princess Cake

So what is it that's so special about this year's Foreign Language Oscar Nominated film that also managed to be one of Sweden's most successful box office hits? Perhaps it is the fact that the film's director, Kay Pollack managed to incorporate drama, romance and humor in an emotional way that captures how the art of choir can be portrayed as a metaphor for humanity.

Jenny Lampa and Victoria Bloom

But "As it is in Heaven" went beyond a clever plotline. It was accompanied by the beauty of a snow covered Sweden and symphonic melodies that shows the viewer just "as it is in heaven." Stefan Nilsson, who in past has written songs for Bille August's films, provided instrumental music that set the tone for the winter turned spring Swedish scenery.  Anders Birkeland, one of the film's producers said that the scenery was quite difficult to capture because during the time that the movie was being filmed, there was not a lot of snow.

Swdish Flag

Pollack's masterpiece stemmed from an eighteen year hiatus prior to creating the film. Like many writers who stop to take a look at life and the world around them Pollack drew from many inspirations, but found that most of his inspiration for the film came from none other than his number one supporter, his wife. Hearing here sing and watching her in the choir stirred up analytical emotions that he successfully brings to life in "As it is in Heaven."

So just how do people in the European show business circuit deal with the hype of Academy Award nomination success? Birkeland explains "I find that Hollywood is actually a small community much like the small film community of Sweden." Birkeland believes that if one has a sense of community, one can tend to look at others as equals in the business rather than looking at others in terms of status. However, if having to choose someone in Hollywood to have dinner with, Birkeland he would choose Tom Hanks (who of course is an actor considered to have acquired status).

When it comes to a film making community, both Hollywood and Sweden managed to join communities for a special event prior to the Oscars. The Consul General of Sweden, Tomas Rosander and his wife Christina hosted a black-tie event in their home that is actually located in the Hollywood Hills. The celebration took place in order to honor "As it is in Heaven's" actors, producers and director. The event featured Swedish vocalist Maria Hulthén who serenaded the night's guests with the theme song from the film. Her beautiful alto tones provided a great backdrop for the evening's dinner which featured moose meat, trout and a lovely Princess Cake which spelled out in frosting, "And the winner is…"

Despite the outcome of the Oscars, "As it is in Heaven" managed to win acclaim at many of this years award shows, not to mention how the movie won over the hearts of those who saw it.

Published on Dec 31, 1969

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