‘ABBA-The Movie’ hits in
By Leif Schulman
- Billboard (USA) 14 January 1978
Since Swedish group ABBA made an international breakthrough by winning the
Eurovision Song Contest in 1974 with
Waterloo, it has established itself as one of the hottest worldwide
record-selling teams, working under the guidance of Stig Anderson, of Polar
Sales have topped the 50 million mark but with the group limiting itself to
just two major tours not many record buyers have seen the act live. The group
has not yet visited the U.S or Japan for live concert performances.
But the hope is that the new film
ABBA-The Movie will change this. Originally planned as a short 16-mm
documentary of the ABBA tour of Australia, it was finally enlarged to become a
full-length semi-documentary. It was shot in Panavision and directed by Lasse
Hallström, Swedish TV 2 producer who already had two full-length movies to his
The film is produced by Polar Music International, along with Reg Grundy
Productions, Australia, and a premiere here received rapturous acclaim.
The framework is a rather thin story line, concerning an Australian disk
jockey (Robert Hughes) who is commissioned to do a special radio in-depth
interview with the four ABBA members. He seems always one step behind the
fast-moving group and in his efforts to catch up loses his press card, and also
runs into trouble with bodyguards. But there is an inevitable happy ending to
While the movie makes no film history for originality of plot, the main point
is ABBA’s stage show and music. From this standpoint, it is an excellent piece
It would be unfair to compare it with Dick Lester’s Beatle films or with
“Woodstock,” but it is still one of the most refreshing pop films in recent
years. The main part shows ABBA performing in Australia before vast and
enthusiastic crowds. They give around 20 hits, plus five new songs, two studio
recordings and are featured in “dream” sequences. Four of the new songs are
included in the group’s LP ABBA-The Album,
which is getting parallel promotion to the movie in various territories.
The sound balance from the live sequences is of an extremely high standard,
perhaps sometimes cut a little too loud, but nevertheless outstanding, and for
this, credit goes to Michael B. Tretow, who works with the group in the studios.
The film goes way ahead of most pop documentaries, too, on the photography
and editing. Lasse Hallström has used advanced technology in some of the scenes
and the cutting is skillful and used to increase and pace as well as lift up the
Certainly the film gives little new information on ABBA as individuals and
fails to emphasize the tough life of a touring band. But it remains a “must” for
anyone who has listened to the group or bought one of its records.
© 1978 Billboard. Thanks to Samuel Inglles