Becoming Astrid: Pigtails, Heartbreak and Hanging on to Childhood 

The true adventures and sometimes heartbreaking story behind the woman who created Pippi Longstocking

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Music Box Films

In the opening moments of Becoming Astrid, a gorgeous, heartfelt and all-too-rare export from Sweden, we peer into a sunlit room where a 90-year-old woman sits alone, nearly a full lifetime after she first "became" Astrid Lindgren. The sun streams through a nearby window, and it's that very particular early spring sunlight that beckons children to come and play. Sitting at a desk, Lindgren's 90-year-old hands carefully open a bundle of fan letters from children. Inside one envelope Lindgren finds a crayon-drawn picture of a pigtailed girl, all smiles, sitting atop a giant, polka-dotted horse, not unlike Pippi Longstocking, whom Lindgren created 50 years earlier. Inside another envelope is a tiny note from a young boy, who writes, "I wonder how you can write about being a child, when you haven't been one for so long."

Lindgren's sense of childlike wonder never left her, but it was the dramas, calamities and minor miracles that shaped her life that transformed her into one of the most inspiring women of her age and the storyteller a whole world came to love. Her books, including the wildly popular Pippi Longstocking series, have been translated into more than 100 languages.

Lindgren grew up on a small farm as Astrid Ericsson, leading a carefree life with her siblings in the forests and fields of rural Sweden.

"Whatever our imaginations could call forth was enacted in the land around us," she later wrote in her 1973 memoir. But Lindgren's young life of pigtails and fantasy ended when she fell in love with the charismatic (and very married) editor of the local newspaper. She became pregnant, and to avoid scandal she left her baby with a foster mother and... well, there were many travails and adventures in store for the young heroine, and I won't spoil any of them for you here. Suffice to say, Becoming Astrid is a beautifully filmed biopic and one of the first genuine surprises at the cinema this year.

Upon completing her masterful film, Director Pernille Fischer Christensen penned her own post-mortem letter to Lindgren, who died in 2002 at the age of 94:

"You were the first person to make me think about my existence," wrote Christensen, whose own childhood was immersed in Pippi Longstocking and Lindgren's many other tales of adventure. "You taught me that evil and goodness exist. That death must be faced. That forgiveness is possible, but that faith in life is the most powerful force. You shaped me—but what shaped you?"

Becoming Astrid answers that question with tenderness, wistfulness and even a bit of mischief, the kind that Pippi would have loved.

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Becoming Astrid
Rated NR · 123 minutes · 2018
Official Site: www.musicboxfilms.com/film/becoming-astrid
Director: Pernille Christensen
Producer: Anna Anthony, Lars Lindström, Maria Dahlin, Suzanne Glansborg and Henrik Zein
Cast: Alba August, Maria Bonnevie, Trine Dyrholm, Magnus Krepper, Henrik Rafaelsen, Björn Gustafson, Sofia Karemyr, Liv LeMoyne, Mira Mitchell and Maria Norell

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