“Everlasting Moments” (a movie recommendation)


Photographs by Geraldine Ross

What is the box? Thinking outside of it…trapped within it…is the box tied up in pretty ribbon, or is it a box within a box within a box? In today's” marketing”, it’s perceived  negative-ly. Pun intended. Personally, I have a passion for the oxymoronic box…a dark, light-tight, light seeking box  that captures and transforms light into the photographic image. I recently happened upon a movie that captures that magical moment when you look through the viewfinder of a camera, and are transfixed and transformed by the power and magic of photography.

“Everlasting Moments” (Swedish: Maria Larssons eviga ögonblick) is a 2008 Swedishdrama directed by Jan Troell. It was nominated for best foreign film at the Golden Globes in 2008 and is based on the true story of Maria Larsson, an ancestor of the director’s wife, Angeta Ulstater Troell, who wrote the story and screen adaptation. This film not only beautifully renders Maria’s photographic awakening and enduring passion for photography, but in doing so, honours the art and history of photography itself.

Checking through the cable movie listings, the menu was nondescript. “A Swedish working class woman in the early 1900s, wins a camera in a lottery and becomes a photographer.” I was immediately intrigued. As I watched the opening credits, with close-up footage of the Contessa camera as a back-drop, I was hopelessly hooked. Aperture, shutter speed, bellows, viewfinder…an antique camera, beautiful in its simplicity…and finally, the magical view looking outward from the film plane, toward the light streaming through the lens…and oh, yes…that quiet, thrilling mechanical click of the shutter. So begins the story of Maria Larsson, a seemingly ordinary, albeit determined wife and mother of seven, discovering her vision and “calling” during the tumultuous social and economic times of Stockholm in 1907.  

We live in the digital age where everything is based upon immediate gratification. In the early days of photography, lasting vision took time, but was immensely gratifying. Watching the scene where Maria develops her first print and sees her vision materialize in the developer tray, I felt truly sad and nostalgic for my days in the darkroom and so extremely grateful to have experienced that same magic. This film inspired me to pick up my camera again…to stop and capture those fleeting moments of awareness, when I’m struck by the light and beauty of those every day scenes I’ve been hurrying past on the way to somewhere more important. If it’s important to stop and smell the roses, why not capture them in a photograph, too?

Whether cinematic or still, by it’s nature, photography records light and time and space. Still Photography captures the present, but will last into the future, and yet become the past. Cinematography has no such constraints, capturing any place, any time we can imagine, past, present or future. This movie honours both and celebrates each, in beautiful tandem with one other.

“Everlasting Moments” reminded me why photography first captivated me. How did it capture you?