Elvira Madigan

Movie Information

The Hendersonville Film Society will show Elvira Madigan at 2 p.m. Sunday, April 17, in the Smoky Mountain Theater at Lake Pointe Landing Retirement Community (behind Epic Cinemas, 333 Thompson St., Hendersonville).
Genre: Romantic Drama
Director: Bo Widerberg
Starring: Pia Degermark, Thommy Berggren, Lennart Malmer, Cleo Jensen
Rated: NR

If you were around in 1967 when it first appeared, you’ll possibly remember that Bo Widerberg’s Elvira Madigan was not only something of a hit (in art-film terms anyway), but that it caused a positive mania for Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 21. If the former can be understood, then the latter falls into place, since the piece crops up constantly on the soundtrack—albeit with a feeling that somebody just turned up a radio that the piece happened to be playing on. Also, if you were around at that time, you probably remember the Breck shampoo commercials (“The closer he gets, the better you look”) with couples romping in slow motion through summer fields. And if you’re cynical in the least, Evira Madigan will probably remind you of nothing so much as those ads—only for 91 minutes. Otherwise, you may find this a beautiful story of tragic love. I confess I’m in the former camp, since I have no patience for the unrealistic and rather personality-challenged lovers as they cavort through sun-dappled fields. Oh, yes, it’s pretty to look at, but as persuasive drama? Well, that’s another matter, though I’m sure the film still has its defenders.

About Ken Hanke
Head film critic for Mountain Xpress from December 2000 until his death in June 2016. Author of books "Ken Russell's Films," "Charlie Chan at the Movies," "A Critical Guide to Horror Film Series," "Tim Burton: An Unauthorized Biography of the Filmmaker."

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2 thoughts on “Elvira Madigan

  1. Steph

    Yup, the only director who can make sun-dappled lovers in slow motion is Ken Russell in Music Lovers. When seeing that scene, a friend mentioned it looked like a summer’s eve douche commercial but I retorted that douche commercials probably stole that from Music Lovers, not to mention the fact that KR filmed a lot of commercials in his early years.

  2. Ken Hanke

    I think the real point of the scenes in The Music Lovers is meant to undermine the prettiness — especially since most of the sun-dappled business involves Tchaikovsky and his sister (who seems blissfully ignorant of how hot and bothered her brother’s music gets her).

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