Posted by: Dean Asher | February 27, 2010

Review: ‘Greetings from the Woods’

Swedish director Mikel Cee Karlsson’s first feature-length film shows the markings of a music video director’s first foray into feature-length film, a lot of promise and attention to aesthetics and a less linear, more unique take on narrative and storytelling.

Karlsson, known for directing music videos for Swedish acts like Fever Ray, dives into documentary-making with “Greetings from the Woods,” a film built around several unique individuals and their daily lives in suburban Sweden.

The main purpose of the film conveys a message that native Columbians are well aware of — even the smallest of towns have their own colorful cast of characters. The film starts off with a car ride to get a newspaper at a local convenience store. The premise would be mundane, where it not for the large man dressed as a sort of cross between a Viking king and Santa Claus doing the shopping.

Viking Claus is not the only person the documentary follows. It also features an odd photographer who wanders around town, taking pictures of any person, place or dog that is willing to have their snapshot taken, as well as a group of Swedes who evidently meet periodically to discuss Native American culture and heroes.

The main focus, however, would be the director’s own parents, who spend much of their day lounging around and reminiscing about their pasts.

Karlsson uses a variety of visual techniques to demonstrate daily life in the town. At times, the cameraman shakily follows his subjects without a tripod as they walk through stores, towns and streets, conducting their business. At other times, the camera is perfectly still, simply filming its surroundings. Karlsson also makes use of short, choppy jump-cuts as his subjects run errands to help ease the passing of time.

One of the more unique aspects of “Greetings from the Woods” is that Karlsson at no point comes out and says who his subjects are or why they are important — he leaves it up to the viewer to infer what their importance is to the narrative and why they should care about them. Throughout the film, Karlsson reveals through old home videos that his father was once a prominent businessman who yearns for an era when he was kept busy with important work. We also see that the photographer’s home is plastered wall to wall with the photos he’s snapped, implying that his hobby may be more of an obsession. We also see the king from the beginning saying a prayer for the people of Sweden and the world.

“Greetings from the Woods” expects its audience to keep up with its storytelling and come to its own conclusions, but those who are up to the task are sure to enjoy its striking visuals and interesting subjects.

Other showings of ‘Greetings from the Woods’:

Sunday, Feb. 28 / 3:00PM / Forrest Theater



  1. Easily the most boring, pointless, plodding “film” ever seen at my 7 years attending T/F.

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