Astrid Lindgren (1907-2002), creator of Pippi Longstocking, was one of the most important children’s writers of the 20th century. Her books have sold 144 million copies worldwide and been translated into numerous languages. During her lifetime she was one of Sweden’s most revered cultural figures, besieged by letter-writing admirers, and the subject of numerous articles and television programmes.
Yet she had not always had a happy life. As an unmarried mother who refused to put her child up for adoption, the years of early adulthood in particular had been difficult for her. Later came marriage to a man whom she loved but this wasn’t easy either: he tormented her with his drinking and unfaithfulness. Through these travails, however, came a hard-won wisdom and resilience that were part of the attractiveness of her persona.
Kristina Lindström’s three-part biographical portrait of the writer is one of the finest arts documentaries to appear for a long time. The filmmaker has made excellent use of Lindgren’s huge documentary archive (from her earliest childhood the future writer evidently loved to appear in front of the camera). These intimate glimpses of her have been interwoven with expertly chosen film footage from the time, along with thoughtfully conducted interviews with relatives. The end result is nothing less than a magisterial portrait of Sweden over the century.
Kristina Lindström (*1957) is a Swedish filmmaker, author and journalist. Her latest documentaries are Palme (2012, with Maud Nycander) and Astrid (2014). Palme recounts the life of the former Swedish Prime Minister Olof Palme, who was shot dead, and was the most popular documentary in Swedish cinema in 30 years. Featuring unique and hitherto unpublished material on the children’s writer, Lindström’s documentary about Astrid Lindgren attracted more than 1.7 million viewers.
In her films, Kristina Lindström works a lot with film archives, photos, letters, and diaries. As a writer she just finished the third part of a series of historical books called History of the Girls, which has been nominated for Sweden’s most important literary prize, the August Prize.