SONG FOR MARTIN, A
During the rehearsals for his latest symphony, famous composer and conductor Martin Fischer (Sven Wollter) and first violinist Barbara (Viveka Seldahl) fall in love. Both are married with children, but leave their spouses and commit to a life together. After their honeymoon in Morocco, they create a home together in the Swedish archipelago, bound by their love for music. But while working on a new opera, Martin suddenly becomes forgetful and confused, and is eventually diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. This becomes the ultimate test of the power of their love.
Review by Louise Keller:
A poignant and heartbreaking story about the impact of Alzheimer’s, A Song for Martin is first and foremost a love story that begins as a fairytale but progresses to the deepest chasm of despair. It was a compositional error that brought them together – the first violinist and the famous conductor. When Barbara dares to mention that the second violins in Bar 239 should be playing in B flat instead of A flat, Martin for the first time looks beyond the music and sees a beautiful woman. After the concert, when their eyes meet across the crowded room, they are drawn together, despite the fact that both are married with grown up families.
The characters are firmly established, as is their love and their commitment. Not only is their relationship grounded in romantic love, but theirs is a collaboration of music and dreams. Their idyllic honeymoon in Morocco is a magical experience which we share with them –as carefree as teenagers falling in love for the first time, as they swim playfully and make love in the fields. The first sign of the onset of the illness comes when Martin forgets his manager’s name, and after his diagnosis, doctors suggest that ‘love and mental gymnastics are the best treatment’. And while Martin does his best to continue his work composing and arranging, the cold, harsh facts become clear only too soon, when his deterioration prevent him from doing so.
The fact that Martin is so talented makes the events only more tragic, and nothing can prepare us for the moment when in the middle of conducting his concerto on the concert stage, he suddenly forgets where he is and decides to leave. Unlike Iris, in which we were offered some emotional relief as happier times were relived in flashback, A Song For Martin concentrates on the progress of the illness.
With emotional denseness often difficult to watch, the greatest tragedy is the changing relationship between Martin and Barbara. Even a second honeymoon in Morocco cannot change the inevitable. Superb performances by the two leads make us truly care for them, and you may find (as I did), the subtitles often getting blurred by your tears.
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SONG FOR MARTIN, A (M)
CAST: Sven Wollter, Viveka Seldahl, Reine Brynolfsson, Linda Källgren, Lisa Werlinder, Peter Engman, Klas Dahlstedt
PRODUCER: Bille August, Lars Kolvig, Michael Lundberg, Michael Obel
DIRECTOR: Bille August
SCRIPT: Bille August (based on the novel Boken Om e by Ulla Isaksson)
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Jörgen Persson
EDITOR: Janus Billeskov Jansen
MUSIC: Stefan Nilsson
PRODUCTION DESIGN: Anna Asp
RUNNING TIME: 117 minutes
AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Gil Scrine
AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: Sydney/Melbourne: July 10, 2003; other states to follow.