such as it is

As It Is in Heaven

As It Is in Heaven (Swedish title: Så som i himmelen) is a 2004 film directed by Kay Pollak starring Michael Nyqvist and Frida Hallgren.


Daniel Daréus (Michael Nyqvist) is a successful and renowned international conductor whose life aspiration is to create music that will open people's hearts. His own heart, however, is in bad shape. After suffering a heart attack on stage at the end of a performance, he retires indefinitely to Norrland in the far north of Sweden, to the village where he endured a terrible childhood of bullying.

Daniel buys the old elementary school in the village, and it isn't long before he is asked to come along one Thursday night and listen to the choir. He is only asked to listen, and maybe offer some helpful advice, but their intentions of persuading him to help are obvious. He eventually reluctantly agrees to assist. After the parish minister offers him the position of cantor, he accepts and sees the choir grow and develop, and rediscovers his own lost joy for music.

Almost immediately, Lena (Frida Hallgren), a young attractive girl in the choir, catches his attention. As they grow closer and fall in love, he realises that he just seems to be surrounded in other people's problems: Inger (Ingela Olsson), who is married to the respected minister, Stig (Niklas Falk), but fails to develop a love life with her husband; Siv (Ylva Lööf), who finds that she is so obsessive over morality that she cannot enjoy herself; Arne (Lennart Jähkel), who is so serious about the choir's success that he obsesses over tiny mistakes when what he doesn't realise is that he is making bigger mistakes himself; Tore (André Sjöberg), who is mentally retarded but is still insistent on joining the choir; Erik (Lasse Petterson), who has put up with being called "Fatso" by Arne since their childhood and finally stands up for himself; and finally, Gabriella (Helen Sjöholm), who is beaten and abused by her husband, Conny (Per Morberg), who turns out to be a bully who was at school with Daniel.

The choir is accepted into the annual "Let the People Sing" competition, and they journey to Innsbruck, Austria to perform. On the day, the choir is ready to sing on the stage but Daniel is nowhere to be seen. Meanwhile, Daniel's heart is affected by his anxiety and he has another heart attack. He staggers into the restroom, unsure of how to handle the situation, when he stumbles and hits his head on the piping below one of the basins, causing him to bleed severely.

He lies helplessly on the tiles, blood gushing from his head, listening to the choir harmonising over the loud speakers. He smiles to himself and it is suggested he dies, in utter happiness.

The final scene is of Daniel rushing towards his younger self as he embraces his life's goal, to "create music that will open a person's heart".


The movie was nominated for Best Foreign Film in the 77th Academy Awards.

The success of the film

An interesting note about this film is that it has been a word-of-mouth success and no more so than in Sydney, Australia. An independent cinema, the Hayden Orpheum in Cremorne, has been showing the film for a record-breaking 83 weeks (as of early July) and is now the longest running film in Australia. A celebration of the popularity and spirit of the film was held at the Orpheum in August 2007 with a concert of Scandinavian music including a finale of 'Gabriella's Song' from the film. A recording of proceedings was made for the director Kay Pollak and via a pre-recorded message to the audience, he thanked Sydneysiders for embracing the film so warmly. See The Sydney Morning Herald's film review of As it is in Heaven , The Sydney Morning Herald article "Heaven knows there's hope in sin city" , The Sun-Herald article "Snubbed film sinks the Titanic" and The Sydney Morning Herald's "Word of mouth gives film long legs".

The film also ran for 52 weeks in New Zealand and has had good word-of-mouth audiences in Sweden, Germany and the Netherlands.

The film is currently enjoying enormous word-of-mouth success in South Africa and is still running in Cape Town. It is enjoying favourable responses from movie clubs and film literate industries throughout the city.

It is still running in Lucerne (Switzerland), for a record breaking 123 weeks.

External links

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