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ABBAMANIA - that was the name given to the hysterical worship of four Swedes that enthralled Australia during an intense period in the mid-1970s. This phenomenon reached its high-point as ABBA conducted an enormously successful tour in Australia in March 1977, promoted by Paul Dainty. The feverish madness of the tour was captured on this film which remains one of a few opportunities to see ABBA live, on stage. The film follows radio disc jockey Ashley Wallace (Robert Hughes) as he tries to hunt down the group for an exclusive, in-depth interview. Will he make it ...?

Review by Andrew L. Urban:
In 2003, The Swedish Film Institute restored the film to its original soundtrack after the original stereo sound had been lost for years. The film was premiered in its new version on December 2, 2003, at Stockholm's Film House and is now delivered in a superb transfer on this DVD. The film has never before been available in Australia, which is one of those showbiz oddities, considering it was shot here. Well, except for a couple of scenes, including a relaxing breakfast in the ABBA hotel room, which was actually shot in Stockholm, with imported Australian newspapers. This is one of the amusing tid-bits revealed in the wonderful contemporary interview with Lasse Hallstrom and the two 'B'oys from the group, now in their middle age. (Bit of a shock, jumping 30-odd years with the click of a remote!)

The three guys are seated on an L shaped lounge for the interview, and after a couple of minutes it feels as if they're all in your own lounge room. Relaxed, casual, intimate reminiscing about the making of the film and the heyday of ABBA ...

As for the film itself, it's a remarkable testament to ABBA's music and sensibilities. The footage of the live concerts around Australia is shot and edited with such immediacy and impact that it brings back the whole mood that ABBA generated with a vivid clarity. The music, the costumes, the era ...

If you're not of the ABBA generation, your take will be different, but as a piece of near-reality tv, it is unique. Lasse Hallstrom talks about the rather weak story line he overlayed the coverage of the documentary aspects, and it certainly isn't a world beater, but it does help drive the film's structure.

In many ways this is a riveting DVD, entirely accessible, memorable, nostalgic and surprising: ABBA really are evergreen.

Published October 27, 2005

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(Australia/Sweden, 1977)

CAST: Anni-Frid Lyngstad, Benny Andersson, Björn Ulvaeus, Agnetha Fältskog, Robert Hughes, Tom Oliver, Bruce Barry, Stikkan Andersson

PRODUCER: Stikkan Andersson, Reg Grundy

DIRECTOR: Lasse Hallström

SCRIPT: Lasse Hallström, Robert Caswell

CINEMATOGRAPHER: Jack Churchill, Paul Onorato

EDITOR: Lasse Hallström, Malou Hallström, Ulf Neidemar

MUSIC: Benny Andersson, Stikkan Andersson, Björn Ulvaeus


RUNNING TIME: 96 minutes

PRESENTATION: 16 x 9; audio: DTS, DD5.1

SPECIAL FEATURES: Disc 1; ABBA The Movie (remastered). Disc 2: Interview with Lasse Hallstrom the Director and Bjorn and Benny from the band, filmed specifically for the release of the DVD in mid 2005; Tour souvenir programme gallery; Memorabilia gallery; trailers


DVD RELEASE: October 2, 2005

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