How a genre and boundary bursting Swedish movie brought back to mind a certain LGBTQ friendly First Grade Opera Tune
I just saw the movie “Border”, Sweden’s entry for this year’s Foreign Film Oscar, and let me say, right off the bat, I recommend this strange, affecting, disturbing, adult, startlingly real seeming fantasy (a make-up nomination and Oscar win is even more likely than for foreign film). But this isn’t a review, for that I suggest you read this one. However certain major spoilers for the movie may follow, although I’ll reveal little of the plot.
“Border” moved me to share a particular first grade opera song, one that was written back in 2003, whose kicky hook entered my thoughts unbidden during one of the films more romantic moments.
This song is called “Troll Affection”.
It’s been fifteen years, and the plot of that particular first grade opera is rather hazy. I remember there was a wizard, a troll, and two other fantastical characters – a fairy and a giant? Anyway, part of the plot revolved around the wizard having a thing for trolls, which he expressed in the rollicking song “Troll Affection”.
Frankly, the words and tune of most of the song are a bit hap-hazard, as some but not most songs written by first graders can turn out to be (yes, they create the words and tunes themselves, I’m merely the scribe and mentor). However it does have a kicky hook when the wizard repeatedly sings “Troll Affection”, followed by four foot stomps the first graders insisted be added to the score.
I just recorded this “Troll Affection” hook quickly with my phone to give you a taste:
Troll Affection – Class 1-1 (2003)
The two first grade teachers and I at the time (two of us three being queer men) did raise our eyebrows in quiet excitement about where this song and the troll-affectionate wizard story line were heading back in 2003. I swear we didn’t lead the children to create this character who enthusiastically declares his frowned-upon-by-society love for the “other” in 2003, many years before legal marriage equality and the mainstreaming of transgender concerns. But we couldn’t help but see the metaphor for ourselves, even if the kids in an age appropriate way focused more on their love of wizards and trolls and other fairy tale characters.
Over 50 first grade operas with over 300 first grade opera songs have been composed at the Brooklyn Children’s School in all the years I have been leading the First Grade Opera project there. I cannot be expected to remember all those stories and all the songs. But sometimes certain songs stick.
And today, while I was watching a movie show two, how shall I say, uniquely formed individuals making sweet love in a Swedish lake, that fifteen year old first grade chestnut “Troll Affection”, or at least its kicky hook with the foot stomps, popped into my consciousness.
The kids who wrote it would be in their early twenties now. I wonder if they still remember “Troll Affection”, and now and then sing it to themselves…
Some people would thinks its foolish to think this way
But who cares
It’s Troll affection
I want Troll affection!