ÅKE OCH HANS VÄRLD

(aka Ake and his World)

Sweden, 1984, 99 min.

director.gif (905 bytes)Allan Edwall

CAST

Martin Lindström - Åke
Loa Falkman - Åke's father
Gunnel Fred - Åke's mother
Katja Blomquist - Åke's sister Aja
Ulla Sjöblom - Åke's grandmother
Suzanne Ernrup - Anne-Marie
Björn Gustafson - Bergström
Alexander Skarsgård - Kalle Nubb
Stellan Skarsgård - Ebenholtz

PREMIERE

26 October 1984 [Sweden]

ACCOLADES

Won the Golden Spike Award at the Valladolid International Film Festival (Spain)

Won the Lucas Award at the Lucas International Festival of Films for Children and Young People (Germany)

Nominated for the Golden Prize at the Moscow International Film Festival


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SYNOPSIS

The time is post WW I and six-year-old Åke lives with his parents and older sister in a Swedish town  His father is a physician whose practice is in their home. Ake's mother is warm and sensitive. This good and protective world is sometimes transformed into a cruel reality, especially when his dearest friend Kalle dies of consumption. The town has many colorful characters The viewer sees the world through Ake's eyes but nobody can say whether everything that he sees is really true...

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CRITICAL OBSERVATIONS:

button_box.gif (205 bytes)The 1924 Bertil Malmberg book, Åke och hans värld, was originally filmed for Swedish television in 1959. That version was written and directed by Bengt Lagerkvist. Twenty-five years later, actor/director/screenwriter Allan Edvall brought his vision of this childhood story to the big screen. The events described in the book occurred during the turn of the century in the north of Sweden. In the newest version, the time has been advanced some thirty years.

button_box.gif (205 bytes)From the beginning of the film, the camera centers on Åke's surroundings so as to see how the child  sees his world. The viewer focuses on the objects that define the time and the place. The film is non-narrative and is formed by a series of scenes that oscillate between both dramatic and comical episodes. It explores the affirmative world of the child, but doesn't avoid the tragedies and injustices that Åke observes beyond his immediate family. Though he crosses the passages of life that are black as hell, he does so as an innocent messenger. In this respect, the film of Edwall remains faithful to the opinion expressed by Bertil Malmberg: While the boy exists, the light will exist.

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button_box.gif (205 bytes)Åke och hans värld harks back to a time when the Swedes did not shut up their mentally disturbed in asylums. Rather, the mad and the eccentric were thought of as originals, and given a kind of respect. Åke encounters these people, and cruel religious fanatics, and thoughtless drunkards lost in sorrow, and loud, frightening peasants, and he views them all with a wide-eyed acceptance characteristic of a child. While he accepts them for what they are, he is not uncritical. Like all children, he makes mistakes, and adults can lead him or fool him into error, but he is fundamentally goodhearted. He sees what is right and tries to do it, even when it's frightening or difficult.

button_box.gif (205 bytes)Allen Edwall, a fine Swedish actor best known for his role as the sad-eyed father in Fanny and Alexander excels at giving us a sense of life going on about the boy. His calm pacing and placid camera are perfectly suited to Åke's small adventures. Edwall excels at giving us a sense of life going on about the boy. The events shown seem to be typical rather than overwhelmingly important. Åke's mischievous and irresponsible prank on a smaller boy, his encounters with a religious fanatic, his helplessness in the face of an elder cousin's madness, his friend's poverty, are events that will have an effect on his life, but   they will not determine his life, just as single incidents rarely warp our lives. Edwall is a director perfectly suited to this material, having an immense interest in seeing the world through the eyes of a child.

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button_box.gif (205 bytes)Martin Lindström is absolutely superb as Åke. His reactions to the world are immediately plausible and utterly true, and intelligence and compassion are evident in his eyes. So, too, is the mischief and unthinking cruelty of children. The rest of the cast is also excellent.

button_box.gif (205 bytes)Beautifully filmed and evocative of an earlier, perhaps kindlier world, its only flaw is inherent in the material, which is not especially ambitious. Åke och hans värld has limited, but noble, aspirations, and works very well within its bounds. Allen Edwall has a quiet competence as a director, rather than brilliance. His direction suggest fundamental limitations on his talents, but that he can produce extremely pleasing films within his range.