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.
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