Heaven and Hell/Review

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< Heaven and Hell

Review of Heaven and Hell

Heaven and hell (Himmel og helvete) a hilariously inaccurate Norwegian drug film from 1969, directed by Øyvind Vennerød. The film follows the traditional drug-movie set-up: Young, nice couple are lured into a life of sex, addiction and crime through marijuana. After listening to the lecture of a supposed “villain” Timothy Leary-esque professor who claims that cannabis is completely harmless, teenagers Eva (Sigrid Huun) and Arne (Lillebjorn Nilsen) smoke some weed and begin their inevitable descent into a nightmare world of smugglers, heroin and cheesy psychedelic nightclubs, finally bottoming out in the gutters of Copenhagen. Sounds pretty bleak for an evening's light entertainment, eh? No.

The director, who obviously knew nothing about the subject whatsoever, wanted this to be a stern warning to young people about the evils of drug-use, but the result is a hilarious piece of pure silly-ness. Rumour has it that the audience went crazy during the premiere back in ’69, and loudly applauded every badly acted line of dialogue. Every usable and unusable cliche is dragged screaming out from the closet of hoary movie-ideas: The foreign drug lord who turned his daughter into a dope-fiend, a smooth-talking doctor airing his eloquent views on drugs in a smoke-filled office, the wise police officer ruminating about liberal university professor advocating drugs in the presence of studens and the fat old guy making sexual advances on helpless, money-crazed female drug-addicts.

The film is iconographic and really captures the time and feel of the late sixties Norway as well. There is especially one scene at a club where a beatnik type poet is reading psychedelic poetry. Rather Norwegian, that is. When the young couple drop acid at the end, the films gets pushed into Ed Wood-territory of unintended surrealism and becomes rather bizarre.

This obscure and amazingly campy drug-flick is the Norwegian equivalent of Reefer Madness (1936) and the pot-movie to end them all. Brilliantly loopy stuff with a killer theme song and thoroughly over-the-top (literally) ending. Recommended indeed.

Reviewed by Keyser

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