Vilgot Sjoman: Sweden’s Forgotten Film Genius?

Ingmar Bergman casts a large shadow in his native Sweden even today. Whenever you talk about Swedish, it’s not too long before his name is brought up, even 11 years after his death. The Swedish film  industry has had a long and creative history. It has produced many talented and brilliant film auteurs, Ingmar Bergman chief among them. A name that seldom comes up in discussions about great film directors is Vilgot Sjoman.

Vilgot Sjoman holds a quite unique place in the annals of cinema. In 1968, his work stood trial in the United States. It’s artistic value was the reason for the gathering of American jurisprudence. Ingmar Bergman had a little spot of bother with Summer With Monika none of them ended up on the doorstep as Sjoman’s highest profile film I Am Curious Yellow/ I Am Curious Blue. 

curious

Wikipedia describes provides a little snapshot of Sjoman

. His films deal with controversial issues of social class, morality, and sexual taboos, combining the emotionally tortured characters of Ingmar Bergman with the avant garde style of the French New Wave. He is best known as the director of the films 491 (1964), I Am Curious (Yellow) (in Swedish, “Jag är nyfiken – gul”) (1967), and I Am Curious (Blue) (“Jag är nyfiken – blå”) (1968), which stretched the boundaries of acceptability of what could then be shown on film, deliberately treating their subjects in a provocative and explicit manner.is

Sjoman loved to push the sexual element in his films as far as he humanly could. For the most part Europe was liberal in their attitude towards the idea of film nudity but only to a certain point, while the Americans  were still balking mightily at the idea.

I-AM-CURIOUS-YELLOW-007

To challenge these morays, Sjoman placed actress Lena Nyman in the center of the 1960s civil unrest, which he would everyone was happening just not in the United States. Blue, by far, is the better of the two films. It contains the stronger story of the two pieces.

The problem, however, is both Borje and Lena start off tolerable, at best, and only go down from there. They come together through interests of the flesh and remain there almost the entire two films.

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