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Astrid (Becoming Astrid, Unga Astrid)
Sweden/Denmark 2018

Opening 6 Dec 2018

Directed by: Pernille Fischer Christensen
Writing credits: Kim Fupz Aakeson, Pernille Fischer Christensen
Principal actors: Alba August, Trine Dyrholm, Björn Gustafsson, Maria Bonnevie, Magnus Krepper

Swedish author Astrid Lindgren was born Astrid Anna Emilia Ericcsson on November 14, 1907. She grew up on a farm near Vimmerby, Sweden, in an area called Småland. She is one of the most popular writer of children’s books, famous for Pippi Longstocking, The Six Bullerby Children, The Brothers Lionheart, and Ronia the Robber’s Daughter to name a few. The film follows her life in biopic manner, beginning when she was a teenager with three siblings. Astrid (Alba August) already has a mind of her own, totally bored at church, dancing by herself to jazz, cutting her hair unfashionably short. At age 17 she works for a local newspaper Vimmerby Tidning and one year later she is pregnant by the newspaper’s editor Reinhold Blomberg (Henrik Rafaelsen), who is separated from his wife and 30 years older than Astrid. Unmarried and pregnant at age 18, causes quite a scandal in 1925. She solves the problem in her own way by finding a hospital in Copenhagen where single women can give birth anonymously. Three weeks after the birth of her son Lars, or Lasse as he is also called, she turns him over to foster care under Marie (Trine Dyrholm) and returns to Stockholm where she has been enrolled in secretarial school. After becoming a secretary in an automobile club, she uses every cent of her income to visit Lasse in Copenhagen. This continues for three years, before Marie becomes ill and can no longer care for anyone. Against the customs of the times, Astrid reunites with her son and takes him to Stockholm, where, in the meantime, she is having an affair with the head of her present company, Sture Lindgren (Björn Gutafsson). They marry in 1931 and have a daughter, Karin. Astrid becomes an at-home mom with time for her children and it is this interaction, which leads her to story-telling, often a re-telling of her own happy childhood, and eventually to her first book, Pippi Longstocking in 1945.

This film honors Lindgren, who died January 28, 2002, and also opens chapters about her life, all well presented by Alba August, who holds the story together well throughout. Today Lindgren is rated as one of the top writers of children’s books, along with Enid Blyton, H.C. Andersen, and the Brothers Grimm. Her stories have been translated into more than 100 languages. I have many of them in German on my book shelf, having read them to my two children who are now grown with children of their own and who are still reading Astrid Lindgren. (Becky Tan)

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