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CHRISTMAS ORATORIO

SYNOPSIS:
The effects of a 1930s accident, in which Sidner’s mother, Solveig, dies in a senseless but nasty bicycle accident ripple down through three generations. Solveig, a lively and loved mother and wife, had a dream to perform Bach’s gorgeous but difficult Christmas Oratoria in her humble church choir. Her death deleted that desire. Her family is devestated and sells up. Sidner, his sister and his father Aron move to Sunne to work at a hotel. Aron tries hard to leave the sweet memories of his wife behind him but it isn’t made easier by the fact that he occasionally catches a reflection of her, and even converses with her ghost. Sidner’s teenage years are weighed down by the tragedy. He meets Splendid, a young man whose friendship makes him stronger. Then he meets the eccentric, delicate and middle aged Fanny, through whom this story continues into the third generation. Aron meets someone, too. Through ham radio, Aron gets himself a penfriend, a young girl in New Zealand called Tessa. He starts to dream of beginning a new life on the other side of the world, and she encourages him. Will his dreams come true and can they help him to cure his regret over the death of his wife?

"Christmas Oratorio is a love story from the inner heart. Brimming with emotions, it is a poetic film that shows how one single tragic event can effect future generations profoundly. Visually stunning, this is a beautifully crafted film that transports the viewer into a sublimely romantic world. We see the world through a young boy’s impressionable and innocent eyes; we share his joy and his despair. Director Kjell-Ake Andersson likens film to music: Stefan Nilssons’ breathtaking music score will make your spirits both sing and weep. The performances are outstanding; Lena Endre is exuberant as Solveig; Viveka Seldahl is moving as Fanny. Christmas Oratorio brings together the joy and challenge of the music of Johann Sebastian Bach with a story, so bitter sweet that its characters will seep into your soul. A wonderful cinematic experience."
Louise Keller

"Christmas Oratorio is simply one of the year's most astonishing and hypnotic films. Lovers of old-fashioned emotionally-charged melodramas will revel in the shimmering beauty and overwhelming power of this finely-crafted gem from Scandinavia. poignant and richly evocative, Christmas Oratorio is a wonderful look at the pains of growing up and loss. Gloriously shot on locations as varied as Norway and New Zealand, Christmas Oratorio is a deeply rich and poignant work; it chronicles the life of a young boy who embarks on his own journey of self discovery after witnessing his mother's horrific death. His father never survives the loss and the pair is never close. From the young boy's friendship, to his first sexual experience resulting in unexpected fatherhood, Christmas Oratorio is a full cinematic journey, visually dazzling, intelligently crafted and an emotional tour-de-force. A fine film indeed, and an undiscovered treasure. There is a superb sense of character here, and riveting performances to boot. Here is a film that doesn’t contain a barrage of special effects, or even simplistic plot contrivances, but instead, a meticulously crafted and rewarding story that will continue to haunt the viewer long after its conclusion."
Paul Fischer

"As book adaptations go, Christmas Oratorio is one of the best. Andersson feared the adaptation process for a decade before attempting it, after having fallen in love with the novel. The script had to be a film, not a novel turning into a film. He compares film to music, and how pictures, sounds and music would be used to compose and orchestrate atmosphere, feeling and mood – without even words at times. And that’s what he has done, together with his superb collection of actors, Stefan Nilsson’s soaring score (Bach’s Oratorio is also heard in all its glory) and Harold Paalgard’s outstanding cinematography, whether studying the intimate details of a face, the grounds of a hospital or a striking landscape in New Zealand, its light somehow of another world. One of the most powerful elements in this film is Lena Endre as Solveig; her luscious femininity, her fabulous voice as she can’t help but pour it into the air like some irrepressible force of beauty, and her aura of soaring happiness makes us believe completely that her death can devestate her family – and that her ghost can haunt them. It haunts us. The irony is she plays very few scenes, mostly at the beginning, and later occasionally as her own ghost. But Peter Haber as her grief stricken, tragic husband, and Johan Widerberg as the traumatised Sidner are also excellent, as is Viveka Seldahl as Fanny – and indeed, all the characters. This is not a Christmas film, at least not in the traditional sense, and the title is likely to mislead: it IS a film for anyone who loves the cinema for its power to gently unfold the inner layers of the heart."
Andrew L. Urban

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CHRISTMAS ORATORIO
(Sweden)

 

CAST: Peter Haber, Johan Widerberg, Henrik Linnros, Lena Endre, Viveka Seldahl, Fiona Mogridge, Krister Henrikson, Sir Ruud, Tomas von Brömssen

DIRECTOR: Kjell-Åke Andersson

PRODUCER: Katinka Farago, Anita Hallgren

SCRIPT: Kjell-Åke Andersson, Kjell Sundstedt (from the novel by Göram Tunström)

CINEMATOGRAPHER: Harold Paalgard

EDITOR: Darek Hodor

MUSIC: Stefan Nilssons

PRODUCTION DESIGN: Staffan Sörhammar

RUNNING TIME: 120 minutes

AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Dendy

AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: November 27, 1997

Swedish and English with English subtitles







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