ABBA: The Movie
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|ABBA: The Movie|
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Lasse Hallström|
|Produced by||Stig Anderson
|Written by||Lasse Hallström
|Music by||Stig Anderson
|Edited by||Lasse Hallström
|Distributed by||Warner Bros.|
|Box office||SEK 5,347,122|
ABBA: The Movie is a 1977 documentary film about the Swedish pop group ABBA's Australian tour. It was directed by Lasse Hallström, who directed most of the group's videos. The film has become a cult film among ABBA fans. Its release coincided with the release of ABBA: The Album, the group's fifth studio album, and features many songs from that album as well as many of their earlier hits, and one, "Get on the Carousel", unavailable anywhere else.
The film has a very thin plot which is no more than a vehicle to link together the concert footage. It concerns the adventures of Ashley Wallace (Robert Hughes), a naïve DJ on Radio 2TW, who normally presents a through-the-night country and western-themed show. In spite of this, he is sent by the station's boss (Bruce Barry) to get an in-depth interview ("Not an interview, a dialogue", demands his boss) with the group, which is to be aired on the day ABBA leave Australia. Needless to say, Ashley, who has never done an interview before, singularly fails, mainly because he has forgotten to pack his press card, although the fact that he is unable to buy a concert ticket doesn't help matters either. Armed with his trusty reel-to-reel tape recorder, Ashley is forced to follow the group all over Australia, beginning in Sydney, and then travelling, in order, to Perth, Adelaide, and Melbourne, experiencing repeated run-ins with the group's very protective bodyguard (Tom Oliver), as well as his increasingly exasperated boss. Throughout the movie, we see Ashley interviewing members of the public, asking them if and why they like ABBA. Almost all the comments are positive, but he interviews a man who is driven mad by his ABBA-obsessed twelve-year-old, and another girl who thinks ABBA are over the top.
Eventually, Ashley has an unbelievably lucky chance encounter with Stig Anderson, the group's manager, in the foyer of ABBA's hotel, who agrees to arrange an interview, and gives him tickets to that evening's concert. But Ashley sleeps in and misses the appointed interview time. Just as Ashley has given up hope (by this time, he doesn't even care that his press card—which has been constantly forwarded by Australia Post—has finally arrived), a miracle occurs: he steps into an elevator and finds himself face-to-face with ABBA. They agree to give him an interview there and then, and he leaves Melbourne just in time to meet the deadline for the radio show to go out on-air. He puts together the final edit in the back of a taxi on the way back from the airport, as ABBA depart Australia for Europe. With only minutes to go, Ashley makes it back to the radio station where, having set the tape up on the studio's playback machine, he relaxes at his control desk to listen as the interview is broadcast.
- Benny Andersson as himself
- Björn Ulvaeus as himself
- Agnetha Fältskog as herself
- Anni-Frid Lyngstad as herself
- Stig Anderson as himself
- Richard Norton as himself, bodyguard and fitness trainer (uncredited)
- Robert Hughes as Ashley Wallace
- Bruce Barry as Radio station manager
- Tom Oliver as Bodyguard/Bartender/Taxi driver
- "Money, Money, Money"
- "He Is Your Brother"
- "Intermezzo No. 1"
- "Mamma Mia"
- "Rock Me"
- "I've Been Waiting for You"
- "The Name of the Game"
- "Why Did It Have to Be Me?"
- "When I Kissed the Teacher"
- "Get on the Carousel"
- "I'm a Marionette"
- "Dancing Queen"
- "So Long"
- "Thank You for the Music"
- The introductory bars of "Hole in Your Soul" are heard to accompany the opening credits, but the song itself does not feature anywhere in the film.
- A brief snatch of "Knowing Me, Knowing You" as well as "Dum Dum Diddle" is also heard while Ashley is stuck in a traffic jam; they are presumably coming from the radio of another car.
- "Ring Ring" is not performed by ABBA themselves in the film, but is sung by the members of a girls' ballet class Ashley speaks to for the interview while they are practicing their routines (ABBA's version can be heard in the background, which the children are singing along to).
- Other tracks heard in the film are "Johan på Snippen" (Johan Snippen) and "Polkan går" (Polka goes), both Swedish traditional songs being played by Benny Andersson on piano accordion, and "Stoned" (instrumental).
- The country and western track that is heard playing when we see Ashley in the radio studio at the start of the film is an early 1970s Björn & Benny song, "Please Change Your Mind", performed by Nashville Train. This song was also recorded by this Swedish country band (several of the musicians are from ABBAs own studio band) and released on their 'ABBA Our Way' in 1977.
Hallström indicated that the film's script and plot concept was "conceived on the plane on the way to Australia". Initially, 16 mm film was to be used but producers upgraded the project to 35 mm Panavision technology.
Mostly filmed in Australia some additional scenes were filmed in ABBA's native Sweden (but still set in Australia)—noticeably different from Australia are the street signs and the traffic flowing on the right-hand side.
To date four releases of the film have been made: a single-disc DVD, a two-disc, special-edition DVD, a single-disc Blu-ray, and a now-defunct single-disc HD DVD. All releases above feature a restored print with bonus material. The initial DVD, including digital restoration, was released by SBS in Australia on 2 October 2005.
2008 theatrical re-release
A theatrical re-release of the film occurred across Europe during July and August 2008 (the same period as the ABBA-themed movie musical Mamma Mia! first hit American theaters) in the UK, Ireland, The Netherlands, Norway, Germany, and Austria.
- Kehr, Dave (22 March 2002). "At the Movies". The New York Times. Retrieved 9 April 2010.
- ABBA: The Movie at Abbasite
- Geddes, Margaret (24 December 1977). "Abba film industry is bjorn". The Age. Fairfax Media. p. 2.[permanent dead link]
- Krastev, Nikola (17 March 2010). "The Biggest Western Pop Stars Behind The Iron Curtain". Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. Archived from the original on 28 November 2010. Retrieved 26 November 2010.
- "ABBA The Movie". SBS. Retrieved 26 November 2010.
- "'ABBA - The Movie' is back in cinemas and it's digitally remastered!". Arts Alliance Media. 24 July 2008. Archived from the original on 7 July 2011. Retrieved 9 April 2010.