As It Is in Heaven (Så Som i Himmelen)

As It Is in Heaven is the story of Daniel Dareus, a prominent conductor who returns to his hometown after a heart attack, and gets involved in the rag-tag (as evidenced by the presence of an elderly lady with a hearing aid) village church choir to be near a pretty girl named Lena. Newly hired as cantor but not much of a believer, Daniel first encounters a developmentally disabled young man named Tore smilingly wrangling a stack of Bibles outside the church and studiously ignores him. But later Tore interrupts one of their rehearsals, wanting to sing along. His cousin tries to rebuff him, the kinder members of the congregation try to appease him with a sugar bun, but Daniel hears his vocalizations as harmonious and decides to let him into the group.

The exact nature and origin of Tore’s disabilities are not delved into (nor is his story told in the film), but perhaps that is because Tore is the most self-actualized member of the budding choir. While the others must confront their internal and external demons to find their authentic voice, Tore’s emotions are laid bare for all to see. When an angry boyfriend bursts into the rehearsal room to punish his girlfriend for some imagined infraction, Tore wets his pants. The anger of the group is inexplicably directed towards Tore instead of the abusive man. But Lena stands up for him, shouting “Haven’t you ever wet your pants?” and reminding them that their duty is to stand against the bully. As is usual with groupthink, the emotions of the group turn on a dime towards acceptance for Tore. Lena leads Tore to the bathroom to get him cleaned up; this is clearly recognized by Tore as an act of love. (Daniel’s love is thus cemented as well.) Later in the film when Lena storms out one day, angry at Daniel, it is Tore’s agitated hollering that propels him forward, against his nature, to go after her.

Tore may not be able to form words very well, but once accepted by the choir he becomes an integral part. He is seen joyously playing on improvised drums and keeping time with a whistle. He is included in their celebrations and an expensive trip to Germany to compete in the “Let the People Sing” competition. Lena explains to Daniel that she sees angel wings on Tore and on him, and can see them on others if she tries hard enough.

When Daniel doesn’t show for the choir’s big performance, Tore is unable to hide his apprehension. He buries his head in Lena’s shoulder and stamps his feet, alerting the audience and judges to their tension. The choir begins harmonizing to calm him, the audience joins in, and a flight of angels sings Daniel to his rest.


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