By Julie Denice Griffin
As the family car careens off of the road and misses hitting a car that topples over sideways – “I have no excuse. Are you alright?” God punishes some people all at once, one of them remarks. They give the man and his wife a lift while the sophisticated teenage daughter examines one of the professor’s tobacco pipes. He and his family help steady the volkswagon bug to an upright position.
The remark is made to the older cousin who is driving. “You are beautiful.” It is not long before they ask the two to get out of the car for the children’s sake, as the husband of the woman begins abusing her and refuses to stop. Remarking that it is not bad for a prime minister to have all boys, their friends where they stop to get gas tell him they plan to name the baby after him. All remark that kindness is remembered.
Dining at a lovely outdoor cafe’ overlooking the ocean, the doctor reflects on his ability to stay and that he remained in good spirits. The other young woman questions a young man about his decision to become a minister. How can anyone study to become a minister? She asks him. She remarks that his love is mingled with every air. She completes this statement just before she brings him to visit his mother, who at first claims that if she is the elderly man’s wife, that she, the mother, does not want to meet her. He assures his aging mother that the woman is his son, Evald’s wife, Marrianne.
Mother asks the two where their children are. We have no children the daughter-in-law remarks. Mother brings Siegfried’s childhood pictures and toys from her belongings for he and his siblings. They look over an old children’s book Kristina once scribbled on. A third image of Grandpa’s pocket watch with missing time, they discuss giving this to Siegfried’s eldest son. “If you do not go, you will be late for the ceremony.” Mother advises. The teenage girl reveals her secret and her innermost feelings about God and her boyfriends to her grandpa. “Which one do you like?” She likes Anders, who they call darling, because he’s going to be a minister.
The drive along the coast to grandpa’s ceremony is lovely until grandpa falls asleep. A lot of good oceanside European film footage depicts not only the ocean, but driving style for the country they travel through. “I dozed off, but was haunted by humiliating dreams,” Grandpa confides to his family. The continued messages, true to contemporary literary symbolism warn him greatly of his impending death and journey to heaven. Instead of finding comfort though, he is greatly troubled by this. The childless woman encourages him to simply come to terms with and accept his pending death.
His son’s wife continues to comfort him even in his visions. She runs to a lovely white bassinet to pick up and lovingly hold a newborn baby who she comforts deeply for Grandpa to see. She had just told the emeritus professor that he must know these things. As she gently speaks to the child, a baby boy, he walks a long time in the darkening bird fleeing sky alone. At a home, he watches inside as his son and his wife kiss after she plays him a lovely tune on the piano.
Professor Borg finally comes to a utilitarian building. He is asked for his test book and to identify bacterial specimen. There must be something wrong, he remarks as he sees nothing. The harsh examiner tells him nothing is wrong with the microscope. As all of his family look on, he is declared negligent of guilt. He speaks of his heart. “I see nothing of your heart in my papers,” claims the college examiner. “Do you want to stop the examination he continues, and ask how to examine my patient who is actually his dead wife. The man takes him to view a scene from his courtship of his wife at a very young date and time, May first,1917.
She tells her lover that her husband is as cold as ice and will only run to administer her sedatives should she complain. “Gone, all are gone.” “I might as well tell you that I intend to have this child,” she tells him. Lonliness. “Is there no mercy?” He awakes to the teenagers stretching their legs outdoors of the window. A beautiful field is there.
“You know I don’t want a child,” claiming that this life sickens him. At this point, I find it particularly important to note that the director and the camera operators work a volume of impressionistic unfolding drama on film – One excellent choice of footage void of all constricting block style after another. The film flows in it’s directive. Each individual family member, the camera brings to life as a creature of reality. The professor continues to tell his family that, we live according to our needs. A Hellenistic desire to create life, the professor’s son claims, and he remains rebellious of attitude toward the family as a whole.
In the car with his daughter-in-law again, she admits to seeing him with his mother, which caused her to become terror stricken – While dually serving to throw us off out of our whole estimation of the plot. All of this is because of the baby. “Can I help you?” He asks. She is terrified to return to her husband. His hatred for the baby she carries, his own child, disturbs him even more as she refuses to get the very abortion, her husband claims may keep the relationship together. The father-in-law shows great compassion for her difficult situation. The very husband she wanted to please with her pregnancy rejects her for this altogether.
The story comes to a climax as she begs her husband to share a room with her for just one more night before he departs. Father goes to the guest room as usual. The next day, the professor’s maid dotes on him, encouraging him to hurry up. The ceremony for the honor of the professor at the university waxes elaborate and beautiful. A canon is fired. The professor, respectfully honored, he is regarded and rewarded. He sits off to himself and thinks alone as the ceremony and the people proceed. “In this jumble of events, I seemed to discern an extraordinary logic.”