Monday, November 16, 2009

More On "Let The Right One In": This Time, From Sweden

DQ reader Fredrik Skarstedt (developer of MMO Baseball) sent me this e-mail last week.

Re: Let The Right One In.

I recently got to see it as well and I thought it was a fantastic movie not just because of the creepiness factor, the fantastic story, and the acting, but because of the setting. They really, really nailed the feeling of winter in the late 70’s, and growing up during that particular time period in Sweden.

As you may know, I grew up in Sweden, and the boy in the movie is pretty much the same age I was during the late 70’s. As I was watching the movie, there were so many small touches that resonated fairly deep within me.

For example: the restaurant that the adults sit in was a very typical little restaurant often found in the “town square” of the suburbs. It was often a pizzeria or a Chinese restaurant where you as an adult would gravitate towards when you didn’t feel like cooking at home. Since the only place to buy alcohol was the state run “system bolaget”, during evenings and weekends (when it was closed) adults would sit for hours in one of those little restaurants drinking light beers and talking. Smoking was permitted everywhere, so when you would walk into one of these pizzerias the smell of food, smoke, wet clothes (from the snow) and sweat would permeate your senses.

The emptiness of the squares between the horribly oppressive 70’s high rises is something I remember quite well. Sitting alone on a swing playing by myself (as my brothers were too big to be playing with their little brother) struck me quite hard as I was watching the movie.

If you are wondering why the boy is allowed to play outside in the dark just remember two things:
1. The society in Sweden was much gentler/innocent back then. You could actually leave your doors unlocked if you lived in the suburb. Yes, robberies happened, but it was rare, and when you did read about it in the papers, it was always a shock that something like that could happen in Sweden.
2. It gets dark very, very early in Sweden during winter. I would guess that the boy got home from school around 3pm and it would already be dark as night, which is why he wasn’t in bed yet. It’s a perfect place for a vampire to be since you only get sunshine for about 1 hour during winter.

There were so many other details that rang so very, very, true in “Let The Right One In”, but those are just a couple of things that I thought I’d share. Sweden back then was pretty damn close to communist Russia and got a lot of influences from it.

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