The biographical drama ASTRID describes the early years of the world-famous author Astrid Lindgren’s life and explores why she became the person she thrilled her readers as for many decades. Or at least that’s what the makers say. We reveal more about this in our review.
The Plot Summary
Already at a young age, something happens to Astrid Lindgren (Alba August) that will turn out to be both a stroke of fate and a miracle for her and will change her life forever: she falls in love with a married man in her village, becomes pregnant and has to have the child in a Danish woman in a big city so as not to bring their family and the child’s father into disrepute. This period in Astrid’s life would make her one of the most inspiring women of our time, as well as one of the most respected storytellers in the world. This is the story of how a young Astrid, against all the expectations of her surroundings and her religious upbringing, decided to break away from the norms of our society and follow her heart.
Movie explanation of the ending
Sooner or later everyone will come into contact with the works of Astrid Lindgren. The writer, born in Vimmerby in southern Sweden in 1907, was one of the world’s most influential authors of children’s and young adult literature during her lifetime. Her books have been published in over 100 languages and have sold over 160 million copies to date. These include the adventures of “Pippi Longstocking”, Ronja the Robber’s Daughter” and “We Children from Bullerbü”, to name just a few of the most famous. However, there has not yet been a feature film about Astrid Lindgren, despite her high level of fame around the world. That is now changing with the drama, which is simply called “Astrid” in this country, but whose original title “Unga Astrid” (which means something like “Becoming Astrid”) reflects the content a little better. “Astrid” is not a conventional portrait that traces the entire life of a well-known person from birth to death, but rather a small character drama about Astrid Lindgren’s youth, in which the young woman was encouraged from an early age to grow up as quickly as possible . The events the screenwriters Kim Fupz Aakeson (“One after the other”) and Pernille Fischer Christensen (“A family”) The stories here are based strongly on the real model; So everything that happens here really happened to Astrid Lindgren. But by concentrating on this early period of life, it is never clear that it is actually Lindgren. The fate of the young woman, who was still called Astrid Ericcson at the time, could just as well be fictional. Only a narrative bracket in which an aged Lindgren reads greeting cards for her birthday and listens to a cassette with thank you notes is intended to create a personal connection that is unfortunately not otherwise present at all in the narrative.
Astrid (Alba August) with Blomberg (Henrik Rafaelsen) in the snow.
“Astrid” is primarily about a young woman who tries to free herself from social constraints in the early 20th century. She starts a traineeship at a newspaper, falls in love with a married man, becomes pregnant and has to deal with all these burdens at once, while the child’s father and especially her parents seem to care more about her reputation within the village community than about Astrid’s fears and needs. Early on, the script portrays the protagonist as a very independent woman who is simultaneously pushed by her social environment into a position from which she – representative of all women at that time and in this country – would not have been able to get out on her own. After months of secrecy and avoiding contact with the outside world, the only result is that she emigrates to a city far away from her home village, where she has to give birth to the child entirely on her own. Director Pernille Fischer Christensen describes all of this sensitively and with great attention to detail, for example when she gives just as much time to the inner conflict of the strict religious mother Marie (Trine Dyrholm) and does not portray her as a simple-minded villain who heartlessly turns away from her daughter. She does this several times throughout the film and with reasons that initially seem flimsy, but at the same time with “Astrid” Christensen succeeds in designing a credible social cosmos in which the clocks simply tick differently than in the present.
The set design, created with great attention to detail and bringing the Swedish village of Vimmerby to life on the screen, also contributes to the authentic atmosphere of “Astrid”. The same applies to the actors: “The Rain” actress Alba August embodies the self-sacrificing young mother Astrid Ericsson with complete dedication and in her acting she combines a childlike naivety with a wisdom that is remarkable for her young age. Her rebellion against the prevailing customs and customs is therefore taken away from her as well as her failure to do so. Especially in the interaction with her son, who initially does not recognize her as his biological mother and therefore repeatedly rejects her, August can show off all her acting skills. The same applies to her interaction with Trine Dyrholm (“Who Am I – No system is safe”), who, like her daughter, is torn between the demands of those around her (especially the church) and her own. The male actors mainly act on the sidelines, but have a great influence on the character of Astrid Lindgren. Regardless of whether her father got her a place in the editorial department, her son’s future father enabled her to train in his editorial department, or she only discovered her talent for writing through her future husband Sture Lindgren: Astrid Lindgren seems to be doing it on her own, at least that’s how it seems shown here, never having achieved anything, which is ultimately also due to the fact that “Astrid” ends before the first letter of her first novel has been written.
Astrid with her son in her forest.
The fact that all of these experiences influenced Astrid Lindgren’s life as a writer is clear from the premise. But the director doesn’t let her protagonist tell more stories every now and then. In one scene you see young Astrid suddenly let out a bloodcurdling scream on a cold winter night – an allusion to the spring scream of Ronja the Robber’s Daughter, who uses it to try to drive away the winter in one of her stories. But such references to Lindgren’s later life are in short supply. And so “Astrid” never feels like a biopic, but rather like a drama based on a formula that relies primarily on grand gestures and little on subtlety. When Astrid rides a bicycle through the green meadows of her village early in the film (the motif also made it onto the poster), the scenery is so dramatically overlit and with theatrical music (Nicklas Schmidt, “Salvation”) and birdsong that it is not surprising what a strong contrast the makers choose to later show the opposite. In Astrid’s bad times, cheerless gray-on-gray dominates, in order to quickly explain to the viewer on a visual level what he has to feel in the respective situation. And then there is the voice-over from the remarkably clever elementary school students who wrote down lines for “their Astrid” that were guaranteed never to have been uttered by children under the age of ten.
Conclusion: With the exception of a narrative bracket in which an aged Astrid Lindgren reads and listens to a school class’s seemingly constructed thanks, nothing in this pleasantly staged drama reminds us that we are dealing with Astrid Lindgren. The story of young Astrid is certainly touching, but the film doesn’t work for a second as a biopic.
“Astrid” can be seen in selected USA cinemas from December 6th.