Review of “Kan du vissla Johanna?” (1994)

Moving picture, 55 minutes

Television is the latest thing in 1950s urban Sweden. A boy decides to get himself a grandfather on the recommendation of his best friend, who already has one. They visit an old folks’ home in the city, to scout out an appropriate old man who might want the position.

Drama seen by a very large share of Swedes as part of folk ritual, because it airs on Christmas Eve every year; appropriately so because it unites generations quite well through its setting and characters.

There’s a scene in which the old man with a bad heart has emptied his nifty rotating tie rack and strung a life’s worth of neckties together in building a kite. As two young boys run away playing with the kite, the old man feels and watches his life, in the “objective correlative” shape of neckties from numerous occasions, slipping his grasp and leaving the world, without resistance, as he is being separated from the unconcerned young. It’s a solid example of accessible visual symbolism.

fiction moving picture