Directed by: Bo Widerberg
Countries & Regions: Sweden
Studio: Arrow Films
Length: 85 mins
Region: Region 2
Released: 6 June 2005
Cat No: FCD237
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A count and a tightrope dancer fall madly in love, so much so that he deserts the army and his family to run away with her. Set to a... Read More
In many ways, Bo Widerberg is the Swedish François Truffaut. Starting out as a critic, he attacked the work of the country's most famous film-maker, Ingmar Bergman, for shunning everyday reality. Yet, having practised what he preached in early features like The Baby Carriage (1962) and Love 65 (1965), Widerberg adopted a more lyrical approach for this commercially successful period piece. Indeed, Elvira Madigan could be described as a variation on Truffaut’s Jules et Jim, with a disapproving society (instead of a romantic rival) preventing the happiness of a pair of star-crossed lovers. Thommy Berggren and Pia Degermark are superb as the married army officer and teenage tightrope artist willing to risk everything for their illicit passion. But while Jorgen Persson's luminous cinematography is invariably cited as the main reason for the enduring appeal of this fact-based melodrama, Widerberg captures the small humiliations of poverty with as much fidelity as the colours of summer, which are made all the more enchanting by the accompaniment of Mozart's Piano Concerto No.21.
Widerberg's gentle and sad period love story wears well, not least in its canny use of Mozart's 21st piano concerto, so influential that classical CDs now routinely label the piece 'the Elvira Madigan concerto'.