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.
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.
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.
Allan 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.
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
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. Allan 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
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