We're so surrounded by technology, it's hard to maintain a sense of wonder. Of course those 40-foot images up on screen are three-dimensional. Why wouldn't I be able to talk on the phone while driving my car? And use that phone as a camera?
The spirit of awe and the prizing of potential that we too often lack is captured marvelously if a bit leisurely in "Everlasting Moments," a Swedish film that focuses on the wonder of a simple camera in the early 1900s.
Maria (Maria Heiskanen) is a young woman when she wins a camera in a lottery. After marrying an alternately brutish and charming dock worker named Sigrfrid (Mikael Persbrandt) and bearing him a few children, she takes the camera to a shop to find out what it's worth. The shopkeeper, Sebastian (Jesper Christensen), suggests she try taking a few pictures with it before selling it.
Suddenly, Maria's eyes are opened to the power of an image. And as she becomes more and more enthralled with the art of photography, her husband, weighed down by lowly jobs and alcoholism, becomes ever more jealous of his wife's preoccupation.
"Everlasting Moments" is both a tale of spiritual awakening and domestic imprisonment, set in a historical context where a woman's worth was measured by how many children she could bear (Maria ends up with seven).
As such, writer-director Jan Troell places what might have been an intimate portrait within an epic context, an act that works both for and against the film.
After about the 10th domestic brawl, the film begins to repeat itself. But Maria's amazement at and joy in her own abilities and strength is transcendent both personally and culturally.
"Everlasting Moments" offers such breadth and complexity it can be forgiven exceeding its grasp. In fact, it should be applauded for doing so.