The Adalen Riots | Chicago Reader

The Adalen Riots

Bo Widerberg uneasily reconciles his penchants for pictorial prettiness and social significance in this fictionalized account of a 1931 labor strike in a northern Swedish factory town (also known as Adalen '31). His 1969 film is ravishing to look at, the pastoral countryside and well-furnished interiors bathed in colors evoking the elder Renoir. The plot, focusing on a strike leader and his family as they try to cope with the crisis, unfolds slowly, a great deal of time being devoted to the details of their daily chores. But Widerberg's dramatic scheme—class conflict played out through the son's doomed love for the factory owner's daughter—is as hoary as D.W. Griffith, and he presents the film's tragic denouement with such elegant discretion that it doesn't quite connect emotionally.

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