(THIS ARTICLE IS MACHINE TRANSLATED by Google from Norwegian)
When life is good and everything is going well, it is easy to make binding promises. All couples start life together with a feeling of having endless time ahead. But what happens when life offers a change in plans, which changes freedom and openness to a point where change is irreversible? What if you are asked to let go of all that you are in order to meet this challenge? How does that change love? What do you want to do and who do you want to be? The Journey touches on these questions.
Twenty years ago, director Fanny Bräuning's mother, Annette, ended up in a coma. Her mother suffered from multiple sclerosis, and when she woke up from the coma she was paralyzed from the neck down. She became addicted to others who had to help her – not least by her husband Niggi. For him, it was never relevant to place Annette in nursing homes. Instead, he fully embraced his new caring role, quit his job and adapted to the couple's new everyday life. Life changed, which led to major adjustments and required a lot of willpower from both of them.
Using close-ups, interviews and the family's own filming narrative The Journey the inspirational story of Annette and Niggi's love for each other. Their story is the story of two people who took the pledge "in good and evil days, until death separates us" literally.
Specially built caravan
Now the couple is in the 60 years and making the most of their lives – they travel a lot, against all odds, in a purpose-built caravan tailored to Annette's needs. As they both get older, taking care of Annette has become an increasingly difficult task for Niggi, and her illness is expected to worsen.
The family's archive photos and movie clips tell of a happy life together: two artists and the children on the journey, they are happy, enjoying nature or different jobs. Their early life shows one normally life, where everyday life was simpler and easier, where the disease was indeed threatened in the background, but was not so prominent yet.
The Journey is a tribute to entering the moment with full force, an important reminder
about the futility of things.
It is the contrast between then and now that makes an impression, for it reminds us that happiness and joy are not a cure for coming tragedies. Their history can become our story.
Annette's illness took away her life as she knew it, and gave her a new, life where only the eyes and brain are still hers.
But also Niggi was changed. He stopped working as a photographer to take care of Annette, because he felt that he could not do both. "This is more important," he says to the daughter behind the camera, pointing to the full-time job of taking care of Annette, but without a trace of self-pity or remorse.
But his creative years are there anyway. The camera reveals that Niggi is constantly shooting; he is a man who does not indulge in self-pity or fantasize about what could have been, but who is creative in the inner. A man who, when he has to choose between following his creative vocation and sacrificing everything for his partner, chooses the latter and uses his creative abilities to make their life so meaningful and beautiful he can.
When Bräuning interviews her parents individually, she asks difficult questions about the experiences and thoughts they have had, and how they view the future. Their answers are well thought out; the two seem grateful and reveal complicated layers of inner values and how they feel.
Bräuning follows her parents' journey through Europe, and with a lot of heart warmth she captures how things are experienced as both heavy and easy at the same time: two sides at a moment. We see how Niggi strives to handle Annette's lifeless body, how difficult it is not to be able to move and do even the simplest things. All of these moments are filled with both struggle and poetry.
Having the freedom to see new places and enjoy the beauty of the landscapes they experience is a joy they still share. In many ways, the two dare more than other healthy couples their age would do under normal circumstances. Still, the film does not present a make-up version of the couple's reality. The scenes convey the realities with dignity, but they are not idyllic – the sum of them is a proof of devotion and not giving up; to be able to get the most out of life.
They both know what life gives and takes from them, and from each other. They do not give in to the challenges, but experience that it is the will not to give up properly yet that overcomes the limitations.
The Journey is a tribute to entering the moment of full force, an important reminder of the futility of things, of the choices we have and make, and of what two people can do out of difficult circumstances if they are both determined to meet the challenges without fear.
Translated by Iril Kolle