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slain by beauty

What is it about films with choirs? Or is it films from Scandinavia with choirs?

First, there was Oh Happy Day. And last night, my sister made me watch As It Is in Heaven. She bought the DVD as a Christmas present for herself and so far, I’d resisted watching it. Why? I knew it was going to be sad. I could tell from the title.

She assured me that yes, she’d cried upon first watching it. And yes, she’d probably cry again this time as well. Not because it was sad, but because of the beauty. After that, I was even more sure that it was going to be sad.

I don’t dislike films that are sad. My problem is that I get so very emotionally involved. I sink completely into a film, a book, a story, characters and people. And not just for the duration of watching or reading – every time this happens, a little bit of me gets changed forever. I hope for the better. It’s too painful a process to go through otherwise. Beauty can slay you.

To avoid that pain, in recent years, I’ve opted for light and forgettable, funny or serious, action, mystery – anything but emotion and depth and beauty. I was afraid of what it would do with me. (For an impression on what beauty does to me, you can have a look at some of my older posts, when I was very much engaged with the topics of beauty and stillness – here, for example, or here or here – or, for good measure, try this or this.)

I have promised myself to be courageous this year, however. So I was. And you cannot imagine how much I tried to stay in my head, watch with a detached, analytic attitude. I couldn’t hold it up past the first three minutes. Throughout the movie, I got angry, scared, experienced that choking feeling that goes with a sudden and intense romantic scene, felt wistful, afraid, joyful, thoughtful, sad, happy.

It was a wild and beautiful ride of emotions. And to say that I cried at the end would not tell you a tenth of the truth. I choked. Tears streamed down my face. I clung to my sister’s hand as she clung to mine, reassuring each other and all the time not taking our eyes off the screen, not even daring to blink as the inexpressible was expressed in pictures and sounds and filled every cell in my body until it hurt.

The aftereffects? I slept very bad. I always sleep easily and deeply. Last night I didn’t. And when I slept, I dreamed. And when I woke, this was all I could think about. And I’m still under the spell.

If you can, and if you’re up to an intense experience, watch this movie. Don’t read reviews or summaries, just take heart and watch. It’ll be worth it. I’ll leave you with one of the key scenes, which works beautifully by itself (what a song!), but is a hundred times more intense still in the context.


my brain on obsession

I try to avoid obsessions. They’re dangerous.

There are many things I can become obsessed about – books, characters, whole story worlds, movies, causes, people in need, new ideas, adventures, injustices – sometimes even friends. Practically anything invested with any kind of emotion has the potential to turn me from this…

sunny smiley

… to this …

smiley driven

– a single-minded, driven, compulsive, zombie-esque being. It’s ugly. It’s raw. It’s dangerous for anyone who gets in the way. It’s a hostile takeover. I have no say in anything concerning my life while in the grip of an obsession. Much easier to not let it happen in the first place.

It’s very inconvenient that I’ve been taken over by one just before Christmas. It’ll interfere. It already is.

Downton Abbey has arrived in German TV and they showed the whole first season on one weekend (that’s seven episodes). And because I have an imagination that runs on 500 km/h at the least encouragement, I’ve already spent one whole night dreaming about it, a whole day having imaginary talks with the characters, worrying about their future, their well-being, their happiness and being as nervous as before a date for all of today and now, after having watched the last two episodes tonight, I fear that the next night full of detailed, long and in-depth dreams is just ahead.

Shouldn’t I be writing about Christmas? Traditions, food, family, how lovely everything is and how wonderful our dog smells now that we’ve washed off all the layers of dried-on mud with camomile baby shampoo? Probably. Maybe. I guess. Whatever.

But I just really, really, REALLY *need* to know that Anna and Bates will turn out happy!!! (Don’t anybody dare tell me! No spoilers! 🙂 )

… it’s just so very exhausting, carrying a full cast of people in my mind and heart over whose fates I have no influence whatsoever…

P.S.: If you have no idea what I’m talking about, I encourage you to watch this show.

a writer’s dream: Vigelandsparken, Oslo

On Monday I visited Vigelandsparken (Vigeland Sculpture Park) in Oslo. I was there before, years ago, with my family. I can vaguely remember it. I remember we had a lot of fun climbing around the statues and posing with them. I remember I liked it. What I didn’t remember was that it is absolutely awesome and what I couldn’t remember, because at the age of thirteen or so, I wouldn’t have noticed, was that it is a writer’s dream.

The whole park is the design of the sculptor Gustav Vigeland and all the 200+ statues in there are his work. They are all concerned with one topic, and one topic only: humanity. Every expression of every emotion from childhood to old age is represented – from birth to death to birth with everything in between. All the statues are naked, making them timeless and focusing the attention on the feelings and motions. Yes, motions, because hardly any of them is in repose – they are all caught in movement and expression. I dare anyone with the tiniest amount of fantasy to look at those statues and not immediately be caught up in their individual stories! Just watch the slideshow and see…

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