November 29, 2023
Swedish writer Astrid Lindgren (1907-2002) is so beloved it is impossible to walk around Stockholm today without encountering her everywhere (she’s on the 20 kroner bill) or her best known creation, the red-haired wild child, Pippi Longstocking, eponymous heroine of the children’s book classic. BECOMING ASTRID traces the origins of the prolific author, feminist, and human rights advocate, played with verve by Alba August. Teenaged Astrid lives a conventional rural existence, circumscribed by farm chores, deadly Sunday sermons about Sodom and Gomorrah, and a controlling family. When she cuts off her braids, her mother calls her decision: “a one-way ticket to hell.” While working as a journalist work at a local newspaper, she becomes pregnant by her married editor. Astrid faces systematic cruelty and prejudice toward unwed mothers in 1920s Sweden, and unhappily leaves her son in Copenhagen with a kindly foster mother (Trine Dyrholm – seen at Film Forum recently in NICO, 1988). Things take a literary turn from there: Pippi Longstocking was so strong she could carry her pet horse onto the front porch. What sort of woman comes up that kind of heroine? Astrid Lindgren. Learn more here.