Revolting against a father who loves punk is tricky
Taking the decision to become a punk rocker is a huge step if you’re twelve years old.
And it takes a bit of labor to get it right. You put all that effort into it. You make your hair green and spiky (I’ll tell you about the tricks if you hang on to the end of this post), you rip your clothes into good looking pieces and you apply a good punkish attitude on your face with the help of a generous amount of kayal.
You do all that and you expect them to if not be horrified, at least be a little bit shocked and questioning. You don’t want them to hijack your Sex Pistol record and you definitely don’t want your father to offer to step into your newly formed band, helping out as a reserve when one band member is too stoned to perform at a gig.
I feel for the boy Nikolaj. He’s one is one of the two central characters in the Norwegian movie Sons of Norway, the other one being his father Magnus, a Viking hippy with a beard that is as magnificent as his lack of sense for boundaries. (“Come inside and watch, you’ll see some wonderful shacking”, Magnus shouts to Nikolaj as he accidentally breaks into his parents’ bedroom as they’re having sex.)
Nikolaj and his father are going through a rough time in their lives and we get to follow their struggles in a stretch of episodes, sometimes dark, more often funny. They take us to some pretty interesting places, including a Swedish nudist camp.
Considering that the director is the same year as I am, and I was exactly the same age as Nikolaj in the end of the 70s, when the film takes place, I thought I would be all into this movie. Besides it was Norwegian and as I’ve said many times before, Norway currently makes the most interesting movies in Scandinavia. The last four movies I’ve watched from Norway have all been excellent.
My expectations were very high and sadly enough it didn’t quite live up to it. While there are some funny scenes, I couldn’t stop thinking of Lukas Moodysson’s excellent movie Together, which takes place a few years earlier but portrays the same kind of people. It’s just that this was a way lighter version. Not as dark. Not as funny. Not as poignant. It felt diluted and incoherent. The red line didn’t quite hold together as tightly as I would have liked.
This was the negative part. Now for the positive one:
I’m antichrist, I’m anarchist
Don’t know what I want
But I know how to get it
I wanna destroy the passerby
Cause I want to be anarchy
Do I need to say more? Sex Pistols is very much present in this film, in a double sense, and Anarchy in the UK is played a couple of times and each time I had to restrain myself not to burst into song, starting to jump up and down in the seats.
Actually I could have done it, since the audience in the theatre consisted of just me and my husband. But I had the strong feeling that he might have objected.
I suppose I’ve finally caved in. I’m just not a punk rocker anymore. I just have a nostalgic fling for the music that never will go away.
The hair trick
And now for the hair trick I promised you. Back in those days there wasn’t an abundance of gel and spray available in the shops, and if there was any, you couldn’t possibly afford it.
So what did you do as a poor punk rocker in need of a decent hair style? Well, you took what you had available at home and experimented with it. I eventually came up with two favorite methods.
One was soap. I worked up thick foam of soap in my hands and used it to form spikes in my hair. How well this worked depended on what kind of soap your parents bought. How smelly it was. The wrong kind of soap made you smell like an old lady and that didn’t feel punk at all. In that case you could resort to the other option: sugar. I used to boil a blend of sugar and water, let it cool down, rub it into my hair and let it dry. The disadvantage of this was that it could have the side effect that it appeared as if you had dandruffs.
What about the colour then? Sometimes, if I could afford it and if I wanted something permanent I used ordinary hair colors. But often I stuck to food colouring – the stuff you use to decorate cookies. A few drips was all you needed.
Soap, sugar and food colouring. Worked as a charm. Until it started to rain. Go figure.
Sons of Norway (Sønner av Norge, Jens Lien, NO 2011) My rating: 3/5