Something that seems to have been forgotten here in Sweden is our sorrowful history of the crop failure during the 19th century. For several years in the 19th century, Sweden was hit by different crop failures and famines. WORMWOOD’s stories focus specifically on 1867-1869. Although it is generally known that famine hit Sweden, it is not so many who know the fate of people and how they lived their lives.
The fate and journey of the ordinary Swede is what WORMWOOD has focused on. What happened when the grain was unusable because of the extremely hot and dry summer? What sacrifices were made when the last cattle had died? How did the Church aid people who asked for help during the endless winter of 1867? How did the most isolated villages get help when everything around them was covered with meters of snow? WORMWOOD does not answer everything, but their poetic perspective gives us a hint of what happened.
Of Scythe and Burden is not about a specific family, it is an amalgamation of the fate of several families. We follow a nameless family in the summer of 1869 in the suites of two disastrous previous years. The father of the family has begun to show early symptoms of a life threatening disease after years of tough living. He sees that the only way to save the family is to sell what little they have left and let his wife and child travel to America while he stays with his farm. Too proud to leave his country, he stays until the only way out is to take his own life, with the help of arsenic, just as many others have done before. In feverish dreams, misery and a melancholic hope that his wife and child can survive the long journey, he thinks about life, death and what comes after.
The video is mostly recorded locally in Roslagen, in authentic environments, with mountain scapes from Jämtland among other things. The music has several different passages that symbolize the different feelings this man felt during these difficult years. Everything from calm and melancholic melodies to raw and fast parts, which convey different kinds of moods. WORMWOOD wants the lyrics and the music to hold your hand on this journey while also making you think and reflect. Do not see this as a page in a history book; see it as a tribute and transportation to a place in Sweden where the people struggled for survival and those who will eventually be forgotten.