Wednesday, 19 March 2014

VILGOT SJOMAN (I)






DAVID HARALD VILGOT SJOMAN
Swedish Writer ,Actor and Filmmaker
Born in Stockholm 2nd of December 1924 died in Stockholm 9th of April 2006






Vilgot Sjöman and Andrei Tarkovskij


Filmography:


Älskarinnan*The Mistress (1962)
Cast : Bibi Andersson, Max Von Sydow, Per Myrberg








491 (1964)
Cast : Lena Nyman, Lars Lind, Leif Nymark,Stig Törnblom








Klänningen*The Dress (1964)
Cast : Gunn Wallgreen , Gunnar Björnstrand, Tina Hedström





Syskobädd 1782*My Sister My Love (1966)
Cast : Bibi Andersson, Per Oscarsson, Jarl Kulle



                                 






Stimulantia (1967)(episode "Negressen i skåpet")
A swedish film in eight episodes by directors Ingmar Bergman, Vilgot Sjöman, Lars Görling, Hans Alfredson, Tage Danielsson, Hans Abramson, Jörn Donner, Arne Arnbom, Erland Josephson, Gustaf Molander.







Yag är nyfinken-en film i gult*I am curious yellow film (1967)
Cast : Lena Nyman, Vilgot Sjöman, Börje Ahlstedt










Yag är nyfinken-en film i blått*I am courious film blue (1968)
Cast : Lena Nyman, Vilgot Sjöman, Maj Hultén




                                  




Ni ljuger*You are lying (1969)
Cast : Stig Engström, Börje Ahlstedt, Sif Ruud


                            



                                        


                                          


Lyckliga Skitar * Blushing Charlie (1970)
Cast : Bernt Lundquist, Solveig Ternström, Tomas Bolme









Troll * Till Sex Do Us Part (1971)

Cast : Margaretha BergströmBörje Ahlstedt, Rolf Björling












En Handful Kärlek*A Handful of Love (1971)
Cast : Anita EkströmGösta Bredefeldt, Ingrid Thulin







Garaget * Garage (1975)
Cast : Agneta Erkmanner, Frej LindqvistPer Myrberg

                                                
                                                







Tabu * Taboo (1977)
Cast : Kjell BergqvistLika SjömanHalvar Björk








Linus Eller Tegelhusets Hemlighet * Linus or the Secret of the Brick House (1979)
Cast : Harald Hamrell, Viveca Lindfors, Ernst Guenther


                                           


                                                  



Jag rodnar * I am blushing (1981)
Cast : Bibi Andersson, Bing Fabregas, Larry Hagman



                                     




Malacca (1987)
Cast : Kjell Bergqvist, Hanna Fernholm, Marc Klein Essink



                                





Fallgropen * The Pitfall (1989)
Cast : Börje Ahlstedt, Ewa Fröling ,Halvar Björk,Maria Kulle



                               




Alfred (1995)
Cast : Swen Wolter, Rita Russek,Judit Danyi,Hans Liv, Hans Arbete



                                      




Meeting with Vilgot Sjoman

(from:Cinemasessanta,n.4,july/august 2001)

Vincenzo Esposito: First of all thanks to Vilgot Sjoman for his presence, and to all who made this event possible, particularly the Cinema Library “Umberto Barbaro”, The Italian federation “Circoli del Cinema” and the embassies of  Norway, Sweden and Denmark.
Sometimes ago, on the important Swedish cinema magazine “Cinema” there was a little dossier. They made the same question to some contemporary Swedish directors (among them Lukas Moodysson) and obviously to Vilgot Sjoman: the question was “when will you realize your first Dogma film?. The answer of Mr. Sjoman was: “ May be You didn’t notice but I made such kind of film in 1967.  In reality this film “I am curious-yellow” could learn something to the new wave of Danish directors taking part to Dogma. So I ask you now do you think this film is still up to date nowadays? And do you think it still has something to say and to teach to new generations of filmmakers?

VS:I don’t want to be seen like a person who pretends to be taken like an example, so I won’t speck about Dogma filmmakers. Concerning the actuality of my film, we have to go back to the times when it was realized. I remember that at that time Sweden appeared to me like a greenhouse, a ground particularly suitable for that kind of experiments. But the greenhouse broke down, and all the world that was outside came in. We may call it globalisation . I think that the girl of the film (Lena Nyman) would live nowadays similar experiences .But the problem that comes out of the film, my innocence from a political point of view, could considered curious nowadays, also considering the fact that my father was a construction worker. It’s nearly scandalous! This is  what you could think about this son of a worker who closes himself in an ivory tower, towards politics and religion. So my film is also a film on how you can loose this innocence; so during the film, not only the girl, but also the director looses his virginity .I can also say that in order to solve my personal problems I had started a Freudian Analysis, I did it for six years and the film was realized after 3 years of analysis. Previously , I had hard conflicts with Swedish censorship with the film 491. During the analysis ,I understood that the censors acted in my hearth and not outside in the society. So the realization of the film was a battle against my interior censors.






Someone from the Public: During some of my stays in  Sweden and Finland, I noticed some kind of conflicts. Especially in Finland I felt an hostility between Swedish and Finnish people and  both these ethnic groups  don’t have good relationships with Lappish people (the Sami). I was upset, because knowing the social-democratic tradition of these lands , I thought these disputes could be have weakened by time. Do you think these situations in Northern Europe could bring to negative evolutions?

VS: Obviously, even trying to put in my film all what was possible, some problem stayed at the margin. Speaking again about the greenhouse, I would like to remember the continuous effort of the social democracy to act in order to obtain a levelling of social classes and economy. During the good times of the sixties , this gave solid grounds to our work, but we didn’t understand it. I also had public financing for my film. Further on, as I said, international sceneries brought to the demolition of these greenhouse and of this system. So today we have an inversion and the difference between social classes is more marked than in the sixties. So the modifications in Swedish society, with a large migratory flow ,brought to grow the social and even the ethnic conflicts in my country. They also asked me because I don’t try to repeat the experiment of a film like “I am curious yellow” in order to narrate actual society. I think I couldn’t find the courage to do it, because nowadays we have much more taboos than in the sixties. In the sixties we had a prevalence of sexual taboos but today political taboos have an enormous relevance.


                     




Vincenzo Esposito: You spoke about censorship, and in the meantime you told us you received financing for your film by Film Institutet (Swedish State). In reality the law enacted in Sweden between 1963 and 1964 encouraged a lot of quality films. A new generation of directors, among them Bo Widerberg, Kjell Grede and Vilgot Sjoman, emerged thanks to this law, and a part of the incomings was reinvested to sustain quality films. So The Film Institutet encouraged young directors but they had to pay attention to Censorship: Considering “I’m curious –yellow” tonight you have seen the integral version that came out in Sweden and was not censored. In other countries Like UK US and Italy many minutes were suppressed  and in the US there were even judiciary problems. Considering the situation of the other countries can we say that Swedish wasn’t so bad?

VS: My film was approved by Swedish and Danish censorship, in US there was an editor who was fighting against US censorship and this brought to a process. It was an important moment of my life, as I had to go in front of a tribunal in NY. The Supreme Court of US had enormous problems with my case which was definitely very simple. We can think of the Supreme Court of the US as of 9 scorpions caught in a bottle. For one of them , there was a suspect of conflict of interest and he was withdrawn . So four scorpion were fighting against other four scorpions and considering an equality in the verdict you normally loose. In spite of this the film circulated in many places in the States. This is symptomatic of the problems the film had in various countries where censorship made heavy interventions compromising the integrity of the film. As soon as they saw the pubic hair of the main character the censors cut  the scene. We have also to say that nearly all the censors of the world are men: so the male organ is sacred, and it’s very difficult to show it in a film,. I still don’t understand how this film could  be   renowned abroad considering all the obstacles and alterations it suffered.
  
                                       



Someone from the public: I was very caught by the film , it has a dense and innovative style putting together elements like investigative report, meta-cinema and many others. I would like to know something about the stylistic choices of the film, and especially concerning sound and music.

V.S.: I was a pupil of Ingmar Bergman, I knew him when I was 17 and he was 23: so we were long date friends. He taught me how to write scenarios. After that, I made a film near to the spirit of Ingmar, the film was Syskonbadd (My sister My Love). After that I wanted to go a separate way from my teacher , orienting  my interest on different themes, as the one of the investigative film.
I also was very interested in documentaries and also this oriented me on different paths from my teacher. Originally I was born as a writer, I wrote different novels, and starting to write scenarios, learning from Bergman, I realized that when you write a scenario you tend to censor yourself and to control yourself too much .My experience during Freudian analysis , where I learned the lesson of free associations, brought me to look for improvisation, a way to escape from your interior censorship. The love scenes in “I am curious yellow” could never been like you have seen them If I had wrote them before. Thanks to improvisation, and to these actors I removed my difficulties to approach these scenes. After that, if these scenes damaged the image of the male actor Borje Ahlstedt, the situation  was more complicates and risk full for the female protagonist. You need only some critics in the senile age to proclaim that it is not convenient for a chubby girl like Lena Nyman, to show herself totally naked in front of the camera. Lena did it also to break all the prejudices. In order to answer directly to your question I started as a puritan face to music . Initially ,I didn’t want it in my films, al my interest was on sounds and noises as in my first film “Alskerinnan”. It was a sort of rebellion against those films utilizing music in order to cover the weakness of some parts of the film. Then through the years I changed my opinion and I started to introduce music in my last films.


                      




Someone from the public: I was moved by the relationship between investigation of Swedish society of that period  and international situation, particularly the Spain of Franco. Could you tell us something about your way to look at History?

V.S.: In order to answer to your question I should speak about my cowardice. I started to think about this film in 1965, the year the US started Vietnam war. I should have dealt with the problem asking myself how young Swedish people saw this war. But I wasn’t aware of what was happening: on the contrary Olaf Palme promptly understood the importance of what was happening, becoming an hero in Sweden. So I preferred to look in my past and I referred to civil war in Spain. Fortunately also treating this theme some very interesting things came out on Swedish mentality :Lena asks to many persons in the film “ Don’t you be ashamed to travel to Spain?” most of the people reacts with indifference. But Spanish Ambassador in Sweden was not indifferent  and raised a protest to the Foreign Ministry concerning our offences. Naturally the Ministry answered that in Sweden didn’t exist forms of censorship, and that’s why I could freely express my political convictions. At present I’m writing a book of my memories, and in order to point out some details I went to the archive of Foreign Ministry. It was really amazing to read the curious mail exchanges  between the diplomacies of Spain and Sweden. Then I tried to verify some limits concerning censorship, as the possibility to ridicule Swedish Royal Family, doing other interesting discoveries.



                             




Someone from the public: Il think that the character of the film director doesn’t look very positive throughout the film, but represents a model of masculinity. So is it the author who re-discusses critically its role?

V.S.: Effectively the character of the director shows a proud nature, sometimes even arrogant. I couldn’t choose to represent myself in another way: instead to praise yourself it’s safer and more intelligent to be self critic. Anyway I learned during my life that using irony you can overcome many obstacles or at least you can obtain a smile. Self irony, anyhow doesn’t transform a person, and sometimes your basic arrogance becomes even stronger.





                      




Someone from the public: I think at your films like a big alembic-still were you mix , love for cinema, love for politics, love for sex and all contradictions, conflicts a necessary hues. I would like to know which is the importance of love and its absence in your last film Alfred dedicated to Alfred Nobel.

V.S.: I can explain something about my last film , where I compared myself with the professional and private life of Alfred Nobel: I’m happy to having shoot Alfred, even if I spent a lot of energy and money for the realization. I never was so criticized in my whole life, and nobody wanted to see the film. Swedish people are tired of Alfred Nobel, of the thousands of articles published every years concerning the Prize. The problem is that he is considered like an icon, his personality was simplified ,compressed, and no one was authorized to investigate on its private life. I did it ,finding a profound love, lasting over 20 years, for an Hebrew girl. These kind of researches  are normally very long and at one point the producer told me to suspend them and to finally realize the film. The film proposes the standardized image of Alfred but also gives new elements like the love with this Hebrew girl. And it was very moving for me to meet his still living relatives and to find out photos and other proofs of this event. So I will end my researches and put the whole in a book which will be published next autumn.

Someone from the public: I am interested about which was the reaction of Swedish public to such provocative film like I’m curious yellow

VS: It’s a good question. The film was a success because there was a lot of curiosity about it. But many were very shocked. Even some of my friends who had normally a progressive thought were disconcerted. The extreme left reacted in a violent way to this mix of politics and sex. From my side I was convinced to have made the first really leftwing film of Swedish history, and I thought they would have loved it .I have a religious background, so I tried to kneel down in front of them asking them which were my crimes. Now I can make jokes  about it, but all my films of the seventies reflect the consequences of this trauma. En handful karlek (A handful of love ) was my attempt to answer to the left. I still remember the title that was chosen for Italian distribution : Corruption in a Swedish family. This is the destiny of many pictures, if they have a good title at the origin it’s not sure that they will maintain it in all the countries where they are sold, most of the times the bad taste triumphs. Coming back to politics I already told you that my position ,at the time, was quite ingenuous and I thought the left was an unitary movement only afterwards I perceived its fragmentation. At the end of the seventies, with new awareness, I made a film called Tabu. The film tells about a saviour who cares about people with some kind of sexual diversities. For this film I came in contact with transvestites and sado-masochists. The saviour in the films has the goal to unify all those who have a sexual perversity, but his project fails. There is a subtle political allegory behind all this. The different groups who should have been unified reflect the situation of the left. In 1978 when the film came out the critics absolutely  rejected  it. In fact during the sixties Swedish society was more open minded on sex but in the seventies it went back to a closer and puritan mentality.

Someone from the public: I think I caught a particular  interpretation  of “I’m curious yellow” . I refer to the social subversion tied to an explicit representation of eroticism. Was this one of your leading idea? And if so, do you think nowadays it still has this value? Do you also think that today’s cinema is completely free concerning the representation of sexuality?

VS: Sometimes I felt like a boy scout wanting to represent the scenes of sex breaking hollywoodian standards. The only director that made something in this direction I appreciate is Bernardo Bertolucci. I’m particularly speaking of some scenes of  Novecento that represent well how far you can venture in cinema. This kind of things should have been possible. On the contrary, sex has been kept in a subterranean pornographic market, exclusively for old and young men. After that commercial films developed a boudoir eroticism ,like in Emmanuelle, or in conventional scenes that are distant from sexual reality. Some great actors during sex scenes acted like good acrobats. If you take, for example ; Michel Douglas and Sharon Stone together, you feel like they are naked, but in reality you don’t see anything, and you have the impression of something totally artificial. My boy scout instinct was totally wrong and the laws of Hollywood go in an opposite direction using a form of imperialism. Kubrick is a quite interesting case. With Eyes Wide Shut he realized an erotic ballet that seems to bring to the realization of some situations which are punctually neglected. That’ why I reserve my judgment.

Someone in the public: What do you think about Swedish film today?

VS: You can’t put this question to an aging director. My answers could reveal a jealousy concerning the new generation of directors, that for better or worse , has the possibility to make films. I told you I learned this work from Ingmar Bergman; he never spoke about money or production. When we spoke about our films we just spoke about their artistic value or their success not considering the economic point of view. Bergman was lucky because he found throughout the world the distributors of his films. Considering the economic point of view in almost every country they were loosing money. But distributors were, in any case ,proud to hand out the films of this great director and this brought them also a reputation. No one of other Swedish directors could dream of  this kind of treatment. I was the only one ,thanks to the disputes on sex, to make some money. So thanks to this money I was able to shoot the films I liked to do. But at the end the producers got tired of my insufficient public success. In the sixties I made one film every year in the seventies one every two or three years .In the eighties I only made two films and in the nineties one. At the moment I have another project but probably I won’t get the money to realize it. Fortunately I am not only Film director but I’m also a writer. Concerning my colleagues working in Swedish cinema they are between 30 and 40 years old there are some women but they are mostly men. They have a great technical experience and they know much more things than I knew when I started at 37. Doing their first film they have to keep in mind 3 things: they have to convince critics, the have to convince public, and they have to catch the attention if they want to do their second film. So it’s very difficult to start. So we have to be proud of a young man like Lukas Moodysson who already made two films  at 31.

(The meeting took place in Palazzo delle Esposizioni-Rome  the 16th December 2000 during the festival “Cinema Scandinavo 2000 organized by Library Umberto Barbaro)

Simultaneous Traduction; Ulrika Moren Chimento
Transcription: Stefano Coccia






                I'm curious yellow the film




                I'm curious blue the film





              I'm curious blue deleted scenes

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