Everlasting Moments is a film about photography. Its also a Angela’s Ashes-esque mopeathon set in 1910’s Sweden where an abusive husband knocks around his wife and seemingly endless number of kids in a two hours advert for hard times. Luckily the photography bits just about excuse the wifebeating bits (not morally, but artistically in the film) giving troubling context to the apparent artistic success of the photographer in question: Maria Larsson – the wife wot get beat.

Troubling in a number of ways. Its certainly not the first film to suggest that artistry comes out of personal pain. I wonder if people are scurrying back to their Van Gogh biographies at the moment to retrofit the lack of self harm in the ear mutilation and the intense jealousy of Gauguin. Maria Larsson takes a number of welts off her ne’erdowell alcoholic husband, but is this what gives her this photographic ability? Luckily the film does not take a stance on this, and for good reason. Back in the 1910’s photography was on the whole about making sure everyone stands still (something which her best photo, of a corpse, she needs not worry about too much). And that also brings on one of the other problems of the film. What is a good photo?

The photos taken by Larsson in the film look well composed, and are as we expect fromt he period, formal, sepia and reliant on complex processing techniques. Larsson, due to a relationship with a camerashop owner, gets access to film and developing juices and thus is in the unusual position of not worrying overly about the cost of it as a hobby. I can still remember being fearful about wasting one of my 24 photos as a child. The instant disposability and huge capacity of digital cameras has completely altered the art. So are Larsson’s photos great just because of their rarity, it was unusual for a woman of her standing to be taking photos in that period. They are the everlasting memories of that age.

EXCEPT: they aren’t everlasting. They are fading from the moment they were made and plenty would be destroyed. Much as the millions of photos taken every day may only ever exist as data in the cloud. Isn’t it hubris to call this everlasting? Particualrly when you consider what the director, Jan Troell, has done in Everlasting Moments. He has recreated Sweden in the 1910’s for a copy of Larsson to take photos of, to create an everlasting fictional memory within itself an everlasting fictional memory. Which will not last forever!

Looks lovely mind.