Elvira Madigan – Bo Widerberg (1967)


“Somewhere in these pages today there is doubtless an advertisement describing Elvira Madigan as the most beautiful film ever made. That has been the New York critical line, expressed in turn by the New York Times, Newsweek and the New Yorker. I think it does an injustice to Bo Widerberg’s great film. Elvira Madigan is indeed remarkably beautiful, Almost every frame would make a painting, and yet the film is alive and cinematic, not simply photographs of pretty pictures. Widerberg composes his shots of muted colors — usually white yellow and green — and of the remarkably attractive faces of his stars, Pia Degermark and Thommy Berggren. But then he uses a style of moving his camera away from the direction of the movement on the screen. The camera moves left, for example, as Berggren, on the left, passes a glass of wine to Miss Degermark, on the right. Conventional camera work, I suppose, would require the camera to follow the action. What Widerberg establishes is both the static beauty of the scene and the subtle sense that the “art” is moving against the ‘reality.’ This sense, I believe, is what Elvira Madigan really conveys. And that is why it is so similar to Bonnie and Clyde, although on any objective level the two films are unlike. Widerberg started with a legend well known in Sweden, and he has directed and photographed it with a very smooth, beautiful surface. But what is underneath is altogether different. The story is a simple one. Elvira Madigan, a beautiful 16-year-old tightrope walker, ran away from her family’s circus in the summer of 1889. Count Sixten Sparre, a young lieutenant with two children, abandoned his family and deserted from the army. After a summer together, they committed suicide in the autumn. …”
Roger Ebert (December 22, 1967)
W – Elvira Madigan
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Video Detective: Elvira Madigan Trailer
DailyMotion: Elvira Madigan 1/2, 2/2

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