A successful international conductor suddenly interrupts his career and returns alone to his childhood village in Norrland, in the far north of Sweden. It doesn't take long before he is ...
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A group of people live in the small village "Ljusåker" in the most northern part of Sweden. When the choir director, world-renowned conductor Daniel Dareus, dies, he leaves his choir and ... See full summary »
A successful international conductor suddenly interrupts his career and returns alone to his childhood village in Norrland, in the far north of Sweden. It doesn't take long before he is asked to come and listen to the fragment of a church choir, which practises every Thursday in the parish hall. Just come along and give a little bit of good advice. He can't say no, and from that moment, nothing in the village is the same again. The choir develops and grows. He makes both friends and enemies. And he finds love. Written by
'As It Is In Heaven' is, without a doubt, the best Swedish movie I've ever seen. OK, it might be the *only* Swedish movie I've ever seen, but it is really, really good. It is a very mature and spiritual film (by mature I mean "grown up", not explicit), which manages to be both heartbreaking (in the way very beautiful things tend to be) and heartwarming. It also manages to be inspiring and thought-provoking without preaching or manipulating. The movie unfolds slowly and with great subtlety. At first I wasn't sure if I'd like it. By the end I was captivated and moved. You will think about this film long after you've watched it.
The central character, Daniel, lived as a child in a small village where he was constantly bullied. He eventually moved away and grew up to become a world famous symphony conductor. Emotionally isolated, driven and passionate--always seeking for a perfection in music which he could not attain--Daniel destroys his health and is forced to retire.
He returns, with no particular plans, to the sparse village where he lived as a child, and ends up becoming conductor of the local church choir. Over time, as Daniel and the choir rehearse, subtle but amazing things begin to occur. The choir-members, though they've lived as neighbors in the village for years, begin to experience true community--perhaps for the first time. Daniel discovers, as a gift rather than an achievement, the thing he had wrecked his life searching for: Love. Not just romantic love, but love given and received in the context of community. Community with people who, it turns out, are just as broken as he is. Within this context the music he always dreamed of--"music that will open the heart"--emerges. And the music is beautiful.
Some in the village struggle with what this emerging community will cost them; particularly those who would use fear or violence to hold others close to them. These antagonists are met, not with violence in return, but with grace. This film does not succumb to the myth of redemptive violence, as so many of our stories tend to do. Rather, those who rely on imposing their will upon others though fear and violence are exposed as fearful and desperate themselves. They are regarded with compassion.
At the climax of the film, the choir enters an international competition, but to everyone's surprise (including their own) they transcend mere competition and bring instead an even greater level of community. This is the message of "As It Is In Heaven": Letting go of fear and of what we hold over others and what others hold over us; being honest; accepting one-another and experiencing true community. Truth. Forgiveness. Mercy. Compassion. Grace. Love. Here on earth, as it is in heaven.
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