Sunday, June 13, 2010

Elvira Madigan

There really was an Elvira Madigan.

I was 16 years old when I 'met her', by way of the 1967 Swedish movie of the same name; the title character played by Pia Degermark. Directed by Bo Widerberg.

When the film 'Elvira Madigan' played at my neighborhood theater, I went to see the evening showing several times that week: after school/dinner/ homework.
I recall sitting through it several times on a Saturday. Back then, one could pay the price of admission and just - well, never leave the theater all day. That weekend, I was in Elvira Madigan Heaven.

The movie also introduced me to Mozart's Piano Concerto #21 in C (K467).
The andante movement is played as the movie's theme - quite frequently - throughout the entire film. In truth, it really was repeated ad nauseam, but that mattered not to me, who found the music to be magical and mesmerizing. I wasted no time before running out to buy the Deutsche Grammophon phonograph recording by Geza Anda. That way, I could listen to it ad nauseam whenever the 'Elvira' spirit moved me.

That week in 1967, when 'Elvira Madigan' played at the Palace Movie Theater in San Francisco, I became completely and hopelessly smitten
with Elvira Madigan aka Hedvig...
with Sixten Sparre ...

... with dizzying romance ...

... and tragedy.

 ... I fell in love with the lilting andante of Piano Concerto No. 21, and wanted more more more Mozart ...

'Elvira Madigan' was also the film that revved up my interest in slow-moving, richly aesthetic, beautifully directed, undubbed foreign films ...
(with English subtitles).
I love this stuff. Eat it up for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Though I now include foreign films of many genres. Other than slow-moving and aesthetic.

Yet how very delicious was that first exposure to 'art house foreign film' - simply the best introduction.

Sweet, impressionable 16.
Believe it - once upon a time - that be me.


House Dreams said...

oh, yes!
I was in love with that movie and music as well!

Those were the days of that falling in love mood. Moody, thrilled, swooning...those were the days after the Beatles.

Then came my sweetheart, soon to be my best friend and husband.

Now comes my grandbaby, Symphony. Believe me THIS music has me falling love all over again.

Mark Everist said...

I just loved the idea of Elivra Madigan and Mozart in SF in October 1967. Can you say any more about the film's summer of love and the summer of love that had just run its course in the same area?

baffle said...

House Dreams: I adore that your grandbaby's name is Symphony. Perhaps the next one will be named Musica.

baffle said...

Mark E.:
Thanks for stopping buy with a comment.

The year 1967 certainly earmarked the social, political and cultural changes abrew (and centered in the city of San Francisco) at the time.

Though the stirrings had already begun much earlier, the moniker 'Summer of Love' gave the movement a name and its participants a label (hippies).

And so, young people from a cross section of middle America found themselves attracted to the flower toting masses, joining up and benefiting from the warm n' fuzzy familial aspect of being engaged with like-minded others.

Music was the driving voice of the counterculture revolution, and the universal language of it prompted the lot of us to explore new, as well as revisit, old genres.

For a 16 year old girl (and a budding romantic)(from SF Chinatown, yet!), this meant being able to incorporate the young & tragic summer romance of Elvira Madigan with its Mozart piano concerto backdrop - into an easy mix with the Beatles - then seamlessly flowing into the yearning lyric of a Baez ballad, and on through to the tripped out confusion of acid rocked Jefferson Airplane. Toss in a bit of classic bossa nova for the perfect dance beat.

It was all - good...