Saturday, December 8, 2018


Time flies when you’re having fun. In fact, it also flies if you simply work a lot (even if it is not always fun). I almost can’t believe I’ve been in Europe for well over half a year, and living in Germany (just across the Dutch border) for almost four months.

When I first came to the area, I thought it was great to have all these big cities easily within reach. Ironically, I found there was quite enough to do in town I live in, but tonight, I finally made it to Düsseldorf. I found a hip and very nice little restaurant that specializes in Spätzle (plus it’s organic and everything) and with a bit of asking I managed to find my way to a nice movie place that’s lies a bit hidden in one of those little alleys you only find in old European cities.

Just the other day, this new movie came out about Astrid Lindgren, the great Swedish writer, probably most famous for creating the immortal Pippi Longstocking. Before the doors opened, I had my espresso in the foyer, picked up a brochure about the film (it’s simply, beautifully, and appropriately called Astrid) and, a bit lost in my new environment, glanced at it a bit. A girl who looked like the granddaughter of Pippi walked by. Was she 12, 13? Or even younger but just a very smart cookie? I suspect the latter. “Are you going to see that film,” she asked as if it were the most normal thing for her to talk to a complete stranger, obviously significantly older than her dad, whom I saw smiling behind her.

Once I got over my surprise I said, “Yes, and how about you? Have you seen it already?” “Yes,” she said. “It’s very, very good.” She looked at the brochure in my hand. “That,” she pointed at a beautiful picture, “comes at the very end.” “Ah. That’s good to know,” I said. “Yes,” she said. “It’s really, really good.” “Have you read her books,” I inquired, in an attempt to continue the unusual conversation. Within seconds she gave a complete list of all the Lindgren she had read, in passing explaining to me how one book is called such in Swedish, but so in German. “Perhaps you’ll be a writer yourself one day,” I quipped, somewhat unsuccessfully, although I did see her dad smiling.

Well, what can I say. The girl couldn’t have been more right about the movie. O my goodness. It made you think that not only there’s perhaps hope for your own life, but perhaps, perhaps there is even hope for a world that’s going more insane by the day. If Astrid could do all that barely out of her teens, why then, who’s complaining when life gets a bit funky sometimes?

Alba August, the actress playing the role of young Lindgren (before she became Lindgren, in fact), has received many accolades, and rightly so, it’s in a word marvelous. But how they get the toddler to act as Lindgren’s three-year-old kid is a total mystery to me. Striking. Many other very fine roles, including Lindgren’s mother.

One aspect of the story (at least in the movie, who knows whether this is historically accurate or not) will, I think, make some viewers uncomfortable. In the film, it’s emphatically Lindgren who flirts with her much older boss, the editor of the local newspaper. It’s emphatically Lindgren who seduces him. In fact, only slightly less obvious, one gets the strong impression that it is Lindgren who wants to carry the guy’s child, and not only, I think, out of pity.

The film will undoubtedly, as the saying goes, come to a theater near you. You must go see it. I’m tipping on a handful of Oscars, at very least one for August and one for the film maker, Pernille Fischer Christensen. 

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