Synopsis by Hal Erickson
Released in America as The Road to Heaven, Himlaspelet is regarded as not only one of director Alf Sjoberg's finest films, but as one of the most impressive achievements of the Swedish cinema. Described by one observer as a Scandanavian Pilgrim's Progress, the story deftly combines nationalism, religious spiritualism and entertainment value in equal portions. The film's framework involves a naïve farm lad who seeks justice from Above after his father is burned as a witch. When he feels that God has failed him, he hardens into a flint-hearted idolator of material gains. After a lifetime of greed and treachery, the now-aged protagonist is given one last chance at redemption-not by God, but by Satan! As the elderly farmer digs through his past misdeeds, Biblical images parade across the screen, all of them eminently appropriate to the situation at hand. It is abundantly clear throughout that Himlaspelet was a source of inspiration for scores of future Swedish filmmakers-notably Ingmar Bergman, whose own The Seventh Seal owes a great deal to the tone and texture of the Sjoberg classic.
farming, father, greed, innocence, naivete, redemption, religion, treachery, witch