FEAR OF DEATH AND AN ABSENT GOD
Another day, Anders ends up by the restaurant's woodshed where the old firewood provider stands sawing lump wood, s ofhalf seriously and half-jokingly he tells the boy that he has been sawing and cutting firewood all his life and if he had not been doing all those living and working at the railway hotel and those living there would have frozen to death long ago. Once again, Anders is overtaken by his suffocating fear of death, not his own but the one of all those he loves and feels safe among. He goes down into the ice cellar of the restaurant to experience how dying from cold could feel like.
Although there is some risk that it was worthy of a Golden Turkey Award I would like to watch Alf Sjöberg's Barabbas, though I do not know how to get hold it. However, I have seen and appreciated Richard Fleischer's Barabbas from 1961, with Anthony Quinn as Barabbas, but also with several Italian big stars in the cast, like Silvana Mangano and Vittorio Gassman. Dino De Laurentiis produced the film and Nobel Laureate and poet Salvatore Quasimodo participated in the writing of the screenplay, though I do not know how Pär Lagerkvist reacted to the film and its fairly extensive reworkings of his story. However, I know that he was present during the fourteen days when Alf Sjöberg filmed Barabbas in Rome.Fleischer's film was shot exclusively in Rome and Verona. Ben Hur, the 1959 feature film, was also filmed within CineCittá in Rome. If Ben Hur had the famous horse race as its climax and main attraction, Fleischer´s Barabbas had gladiator fights, especially the one between Anthony Quinn and the demonic Jack Palance, who in 1953 unforgettably had played the black-clad villain in Shane .
In the Holy Land, Giovanni and Tobias end up on an unknown coast, with ruins of a forgotten temple. The shepherds who live there do not seem to know God. They wonder why Giovanni has become blind and he tells them that he assumes it is a punishment from God. They ask him why he is so sure about that, among them, there are also blind people who apparently have not committed any serious sins as all. Why would an omnipotent creature like Giovanni´s God among millions of others care about one insignificant human being? Giovanni has no answer but is well aware of the fact he has sinned against an unknown, mighty god and that must be the reason for his particular blindness. There must be a connection – Giovanni cannot help interpreting his suffering as a proof of God´s existence. Furthermore, even if God does not exist that does not hinder that a belief in His presence makes us human suffer.
Since many years back, I have no fear whatsoever of death. I cannot remember when this fear disappeared. I assume it had blown away when I reached the age of Anders in Guest of Reality. Maybe it will come back when I get older and frail. Might fear of death be hereditary? I sat by both my father's and my mother's deathbed. I was very fond of them and sometimes am deeply affected by the loss of them. However, I am grateful that when I sat next to them during their last hours on earth they did not demonstrate any fear or worries about their approaching death. Neither did they do so earlier. Although they rarely talked about it, I do not think they believed in Heaven or Hell. Neither Mother nor Father, were particularly religious, although during my childhood they often went to the church accompanied by us children and they were familiar with the Bible and the Swedish Hymn Book. When I was a kid we blessed the food together and thanked God for it, but I cannot remember they did it when I had become an adult.