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Film / As It Is in Heaven

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A Swedish film (Så som i himmelen) by Kay Pollak, released in 2004 and nominated for an Academy Award for Best Foreign Language film.

Daniel Dáreus (Michael Nyqvist), after a childhood full of bullying and losing both his parents, grows up to be a successful and internationally famous conductor. Driven, and determined to create music that will "open people's hearts", he eventually suffers an on-stage heart attack, and retires out of necessity. He moves back to the village where he grew up, living in the old elementary school building he bought.

Intending to keep mostly to himself, he is persuaded by the locals to lead the village's choir. The choir becomes a catalyst for many of the locals' personal problems, affecting Daniel as he affects them.


The film provides examples of:

  • 10-Minute Retirement: Daniel is drafted as the choir's cantor pretty much instantly after moving to the village for retirement.
  • The Bully: Connie beats up Daniel as a child. He doesn't get much better later in life, as Gabriella's abusive husband.
  • Cannot Talk to Women: Daniel isn't much of a conversation maker if it's not about music Lena ends up falling for him anyway, despite Daniel stammering his way through most conversations with her.
  • Eccentric Townsfolk: Most are not that eccentric when it comes down to it, but their personal problems and eccentricities factor into the narrative in a major way.
  • Go Out with a Smile: Daniel suffers another heart attack near the end of the film, and goes to a bathroom in an attempt to steady himself, but he ends up falling over and hitting his head on a pipe beneath the sink, leaving him lying on the floor and unable to get up as he bleeds profusely from a head wound. It is left deliberately ambigous as to whether he actually dies from this, but the last thing he hears before he loses consciousness is his choir harmonising over loudspeakers, and the sound makes him smile a serene and peaceful smile even as he appears to bleed out.
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  • The Heart: Lena.
  • Holier Than Thou: The local priest, Stig is a micro-managing Control Freak who obsesses about proper "Christian" behavior at every opportunity. His long-suffering wife, Inger, finally calls him out on this behavior when he attempts to shame her during an argument, telling him that he doesn't actually care very much about Christianity and morality, but rather that his eagerness to brand other as "sinners" at the slightest provocation is merely him Hiding Behind Religion and what he really wants is to feel needed and powerful. She tells him that if he cared about following his religion he should instead show more humility. Inger briefly manages to get through to him, but it ultimately doesn't take.
  • Ignored Epiphany: During a climatic argument, Inger calls out her overbearing husband Stig, the local priest, out about his Holier Than Thou-attitude, showing him that she fully well knows his own dirty and shameful secrets, such as his supposedly well-hidden Porn Stash, and that he is nowhere as pure as he likes to portray himself to the local community. Humiliated and confronted with evidence of his hypocrisy, Stig is unable to make a counter-argument and is cowed into silence. Inger believes that she has finally gotten through to him, but the next morning, Stig merely tells her that he would just like to think of their argument as though it never happened.
  • Open Secret: It is well known around the town that the violent Connie regularly beats up his wife Gabriella. Thanks to Daniel and his work's positive influence, Gabriella and the other townspeople finally find the courage to actually openly acknowledge it and even act upon it, leading to them reporting Connie to the police and getting him landed in jail.
  • Porn Stash: When Stig attempts to shame Inger as a sinner for flashing her breasts at a party while drunk, Inger — finally completely fed up with her husband's extremely sanctimonious behavior — immediately walks to over to their bookshelf and pulls out his "secret" collection of porn magazines hidden at the back of the self, asking him if he really thought he had somehow managed to sneak them past her, and calling him out of not being the chaste paragon of virtue he likes to believe himself to be.
  • Scenery Porn: Northern Sweden is quite beautiful.
  • Sexless Marriage: The local priest Stig and his wife, Inger, is in effectively one, much to her great exasperation and chagrin.
  • You Are Not Ready: Daniel's initial lessons center around getting the group dynamic of the choir right for singing together. It makes a few locals wonder when they will actually start, you know, singing.