Tribute: Vilgot Sjöman - Swedish Director - 1924-2006

By Moira Sullivan
Movie Magazine International
I Am Curious Yellow by Vilgot sjoman created a big stir when it opened in the US in 1969 because it was seized by US Customs. But for many viewers It was considered and still is consideredan intelligent and political film that tears into sexual politics within the context of the monarchy, social democracy and class society in Sweden. The full frontal nudity of the two main stars Lena Nyman and Borje Ahlstedt caused an uproar not to mention the fresh countryside sex in the film. But for todays young people these are not spectacular scenes at all.

Director Vilgot Sjoman died last week in Sweden- almost the same age as Ingmar Bergman and who served as a directors assistent to the acclaimed director. But Sjomans path was vastly different. I am Curious Yellow and I am Curious Blue are twin films, representing the colors of the national flag. I am Curious Yellow is a film within a film, where the cinema verite style of the 60's shows cameramen shooting scenes, as the director chats with the actors and crew. Lena Nyman is a young theater student having an affair with the young director of the time, Sjoman at 42.

In the story within the film Nyman lives with her father an alcoholic framemaker.She is the head of Nyman Institute, a room off the kitchen of the small apartment they both share with pictures of Franco, holocaust victims and files from a-z, including an empty box on relgiion and one on men--the 23 men Lena has slept with in her life.

Lena interviews peopleon the streets of Stockholm about whether they think Sweden is a class society-- a lengthy section that was cut from the US version. What does remain is the 39 year odl Olof Palme in his tract home in Vallingby admitting that Swedish Social Democracy hasnt quite suceeded in eliminating class differences. Martin Luther King is anothercentral figure who is cut into a mock interview with Sjoman.There are also scenes of the Russian poet Yevgeny Yevtuchenko who visited Stockholm and spoketo the political organization Clarte which Nyman and Sjoman attend.

Scenes of enlisted pacifists who do military training are a comic ingredient. And there are lots of signs lots of demonstrations by Lena, against the Vietnam war, building a Swedish A Bomb and other issues.

One day Lena appears at work to get the money her father owes her, and grabs the attention of the young Borge Alstedt who loans the money to the father to get a chance to meet her. A love affair begins despite the fact that Borje also collects women --he lives with a woman and child and has affairs on the side. Lena escapes him to go on a retreat and later dreaming of killing and castrating him as they go through the death rattle of their passionate relationship.

Sjoman's film is wittingly edited and remains his best known film. He would have enjoyed knowing that two days after his death that he won his court battle to not have his films interrupted with commercials on Swedish TV.

For Movie Magazine this is Moira Sullivan Stockholm Sweden

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Vilgot Sjöman - Swedish Director - 1924-2006