Here Is Your Life

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Here Is Your Life
Here's Your Life poster.png
Film poster
Här har du ditt liv
Directed by Jan Troell
Produced by Bengt Forslund
Written by Screenplay:
Jan Troell
Bengt Forslund
Novel:
Eyvind Johnson
Starring Eddie Axberg
Music by Erik Nordgren
Cinematography Jan Troell
Release dates
  • 26 December 1966 (1966-12-26)
Running time
169 minutes
Country Sweden
Language Swedish

Here Is Your Life (Swedish: Här har du ditt liv) is a 1966 Swedish drama film directed by Jan Troell, based on the second of Eyvind Johnson's semi-autobiographical series of four novels Romanen om Olof, about a working-class boy growing up in northern Sweden.

Plot synopsis[edit]

When the father of the young Olof Persson (Eddie Axberg) becomes ill, he starts taking jobs as a working class Swede. His first job is log driving, where he meets a man named August (Allan Edwall). August tells Olof about death, and a flashback tale with a woman chasing children is played. Olof finds a dead moth while working. He picks it up and pretends that it is alive, flying it through the air.

After Olof’s father dies, Olof takes a job at a sawmill. The sawmill workers were sitting around telling stories about women, and then some of the workers harass Olof. Olof primarily works outside of the mill, transporting logs with a boy named Oskar. Oskar gets injured when a log falls on him, and he later dies in the hospital. After this incident, Olof asks for a higher position at the mill, but he is denied. He starts to read a lot of novels and books about philosophy. Later on, he speaks out against his boss and quits the sawmill job.

Then, Olof takes a job at a cinema selling candy. He becomes interested in a girl named Maria (Signe Stade), who he later sees with another boy. He makes friends with a boy named Fredrik (Stig Törnblom). They talk about books and philosophy, and explore together. Olof visits home and his mother (Ulla Akselson) asks questions about the security of his new job. When Olof has an accident while selling candy, he asks for a new job. He starts working for a touring projectionist named Mr. Larsson (Åke Fridell). They travel to participate in the circus. Mr. Larsson introduces Olof to Olivia (Ulla Sjöblom), the “queen” of a travelling shooting gallery.

Olof works for a blacksmith in between touring and the cinema. He meets Maja (Catti Edfeldt), the blacksmith’s daughter; they sleep together in the field. Afterward, she cries. Olof starts going to meetings concerning communism and its place working-class Sweden, and writing poetry. When he goes back to the cinema, Olof’s boss gets mad that he was handing out “socialist rags.” Olof quits. He goes back on tour and works for Olivia. They enter into a relationship. Olof continues visiting home and going to communist meetings.

Later on, Olof starts working for the railroad company. He works with a man named Niklas (Per Oscarsson), and they have similar opinions about capitalism. Niklas shouts, “Damn capitalist rot!” They both proclaim their pro-socialist opinions to their boss, Byberg (Bengt Ekerot). They prank Byberg as well. Olof spares food for hobos on the train, and starts leading communist meetings. At a party, Olof gets very drunk, throws up, and falls down. Back with the circus, Olivia gives Olof a final speech of sorts about giving up and how hard life can be. A scene with a bird flying that was shown at the beginning, with characteristic music, is repeated.

Olof goes back to his stepmother (Gudrun Brost) before travelling on. He finally buys a hat he had been admiring earlier in the film. In the final scene, Olof walks along railroad tracks in heavy snow, onto whatever is next.[1]

Historical context[edit]

Released in 1966, Here Is Your Life was director Jan Troell's first film.[2] The main character is growing up in a Sweden that is also developing, in the midst of the early twentieth century.[2] This film, through the lens of 1960s Sweden, tells the story of a boy learning and responding to the environment around him.[2]

Films about large-scale wars, such as the Great War, are often produced in differing waves after the war is over.[3] The release of Here's Your Life marked the fiftieth anniversary of the Great War, like many other films of its time.[3] Sweden was looking back and considering its state of neutrality during the war and how this neutrality affected Sweden's people.[3] When reviewing the past effects of neutrality, Sweden was looking to the future and its position in the Cold War.[3]

Like many European countries in the mid-twentieth century, Sweden began to introduce welfare capitalism.[4] Specifically, Sweden found its place in this continental movement by following its "tradition of state intervention to promote political centralization and economic efficiency.[4] In Here Is Your Life, Olof is never struggling for money and shelter, but he is constantly working and taking new jobs to sustain himself and his family.[1] This working class portrayal[1] is likely linked to the welfare initiatives that were present or forthcoming when the film was produced.[4]

Sweden has been a country of neutrality, relying on peaceful interactions with other nations, since the early nineteenth century[5] Sweden has worked to avoid alliances (such as NATO) and imperialism so that it will not be pulled into wars by other countries.[5] Along with this, Sweden's economy during the twentieth century relied on trade, so this was another reason to keep peace with multiple nations.[5] However, "Sweden was particularly active in the resumption of scientific and other cultural cooperation in the world after 1945."[5] During the Cold War, the Swedish government had to carefully consider the need for nuclear weapons ("armed isolation"[6]), and how these would influence Sweden's policy of neutrality and economic situation.[5]

In the early 1960s, the younger generations of Sweden were exposed to Western culture, and many participated in protests opposing the Vietnam War.[6] Because of this, the government became more progressive in order to appease the young leftists and the poor.[6] Olof Palme, an adviser for Prime Minister Tage Erlander and then a prime minister himself, also protested against the Vietnam War.[6] Palme was important to Sweden's activism and "international solidarity" during the 1960s. When Here Is Your Life was released and shortly after, much of Sweden's population was considering Sweden's changing foreign policy that "consisted of four elements: national neutrality, Nordic cooperation, a commitment to UN collective security, and a nascent association with the European Communities and the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe."[6] In a New York Times film review in 1968,[7] Here Is Your Life was praised, though many Swedes were protesting U.S. policies during this time.[6]

Selected cast[edit]

Awards[edit]

It won the Gold and Silver Hugo at the Chicago International Film Festival in 1967 for Best Film and Best Director, as well as the award for Best Director at the 4th Guldbagge Awards.[8] It was also entered into the 17th Berlin International Film Festival.[9] The film was selected as the Swedish entry for the Best Foreign Language Film at the 40th Academy Awards, but was not accepted as a nominee.[10]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c Troell, Jan (Director) (1966). Här har du ditt liv [Here's Your Life] (Motion picture). Sweden. 
  2. ^ a b c "Here Is Your Life". The Criterion Collection. Retrieved 7 July 2015. 
  3. ^ a b c d Buelens, Geert (2014). The Great War in Post-Memory Literature and Film. Berlin: De Gruyter. p. 367. ISBN 978-3-11-036290-9. 
  4. ^ a b c Hunt, Michael H. (2004). The World Transformed : 1945 to the present. Boston: Bedford/St. Martin's. p. 202. ISBN 9780312245832. 
  5. ^ a b c d e Heckscher, Gunnar (January 1961). "Sweden and the Cold War". Survival 3 (1): 31–34. doi:10.1080/00396336108440232. 
  6. ^ a b c d e f Makko, Aryo (2012). "Sweden, Europe, and the Cold War: A Reappraisal". Journal of Cold War Studies (Project MUSE) 14 (2): 68–97. 
  7. ^ Canby, Vincent; Thompson, Howard (December 20, 1968). "Screen: 'Here's Your Life,' a Swedish Import, Begins Run at the Fifth Avenue Cinema". New York Times. Retrieved 7 July 2015. 
  8. ^ Award section at Svenskfilmdatabas.se (in Swedish) Swedish Film Institute
  9. ^ "IMDB.com: Awards for Here Is Your Life". imdb.com. Retrieved 2010-02-27. 
  10. ^ Margaret Herrick Library, Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences

External links[edit]