Let The Right One In: A Work of Swedish Cinema

Whenever I tell people I’m Swedish, normally a few things come up. Sometimes there’s confusion over if I’m actually talking about Sweden or Switzerland (damn those blonde-haired, chocolate-eating, neutral, Swiss). Other times they can’t resist going directly to the Swedish Chef reference and start blathering incomprehensible mumbles that are funny yet seemingly insensitive at the same time. Still on other occasions a large amount of the white people I tell this to will, in return, account of their own Scandinavian heritage. In this pursuit they’ll describe to me, how in reverence to a vague idea of identity and tradition, they either currently or used to eat the corrosive sickening mesh that is Lutefisk during Christmas time. I find this hilariously stupid.

Along with the Swedish Chef and Lutefisk, many Americans recognize Let the Right One In as a distinguishable piece of Swedish culture. Indeed, it is a substantially Swedish film. However, “culture” might not be the best word to use. Let the Right One In portrays the Swedish psyche more than anything else. One of the ways it does this is with close setting detail. The choice of setting the movie in the Swedish winter, creates great shots of desolate scenes where contrasting stoic cement buildings and pure white snow portray the Swedish sense of brutal commonality. In this setting though our characters Oskar, Eli, and everyone else, exist. They go throughout their daily lives exposed to sharp cold. In instances when their bare cheeks or bodies sting in the cold, they accept it. This simple fact helps portray the constant of reality’s harsh sting that looms inside the Swedish psyche.

The movie also plays with the Swedish perception of violence. In its stoic form, the Swedish psyche portrays violence to be an act carried out in meditation and fostered in cold thought. Murder and inflicting pain on others are not passionate actions brought on by quick irrational thinking, but are logical and contrived from the souls of broken people. Let the Right One In shows us this Swedish idea of violence through the narratives of Eli’s required murder, Lacke’s taste for revenge, Oskar’s bullied torment, and Håkan’s desperate premeditation.

I’m afraid I’ve painted an all too depressing picture of my father’s homeland. Don’t be confused, Sweden can be a place of joy and wonder. My childhood summers spent there can attest to that. However, the psyche and milieu of Sweden is one of deeply contemplative thought. I often times find my father, brother, relatives, and myself stuck in a deep contemplation. If you ever go to Sweden, look at the people’s faces, when they aren’t focused on something. Their faces are left in less of the blank stare that Americans make, but instead furrow their brow to resemble the contorted weight that lies in their minds. Let the Right One In represented that exact continence of stoicism in the Swedish psyche. The proof rests on my unfocused face.