Deference or Defiance: How a Thematic Duality in Characterization Is Negotiated in Kay Pollak’s Så som i himmelen [As it is in heaven]

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Usa Padgate


Så som i himmelen [As it is in heaven] is a 2004 Swedish film directed by Kay Pollak, who also co-wrote the screenplay. The film has received a number of international film awards and enjoyed popularity worldwide. This article aims to illustrate that part of the film’s appeal lies in its presentation of the thematic duality of Christianity and paganism through the characterization of the male and female protagonists, Daniel and Lena. While the plot’s predilection seems to groom Daniel to follow the path of selfless heroism as exemplified in the Christian gospels, on closer inspection he is characterized almost analogously to the myth of the pagan god of wine and ecstasy, Dionysus. Similarly, Lena is shown to echo the controversial role of Mary Magdalene in the alternate account of the biblical gospels as well as to reflect visual symbolism of Aphrodite, the pagan goddess of love and sexuality. By incorporating hedonistic aspects of antiquity’s cults of Dionysus and Aphrodite into the characterization framed by the Christian gospels, the film acknowledges human fallibility as indoctrinated by the gospels yet intimates that it is possible to make peace with pain and celebrate life with physical pleasures.


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Padgate, U. (2022). Deference or Defiance: How a Thematic Duality in Characterization Is Negotiated in Kay Pollak’s Så som i himmelen [As it is in heaven]. Journal of Studies in the English Language, 17(1), 50–63. Retrieved from
Research Articles


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