Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Sweden... where the facts of life are stranger than fiction!

While Vilgot Sjöman's talky artfilm I Am Curious Yellow and Torgny Wickman's heartfelt documentary The Language of Love did their bit to spread the picture of Swedes as sex-crazed maniacs, the one film that really solidified the image was not even Swedish! As you can see from the Australian daybill (left), the mondo (i.e. mostly fake) Italian "documentary" Svezia: Inferno e Paradiso depicts a country of teenage suicides, violent motorized gangs ("raggare") and stripping meter maids. A few well-know Swedish actors can be seen in the supposedly "real" footage, and the American voice-over is priceless! Incidentally, Piero Umliliani's score is probably more famous than the movie; the song Mah Nà Mah Nà was later used in a recurring sketch in The Muppet Show...

The movie was very successful and screened all over the world. In my collection I have material from the United States, Japan, Belgium, Germany, Australia and of course Italy, but paradoxically the movie was never shown in Sweden except in very shortened form on television. To this day, misconceptions created by the film live on in popular memory abroad, for instance the idea that Sweden has the most suicides per capita in the world (maybe they confused us with Switzerland?) But sometimes I wish I really lived in the exotic and wondrous country that only exists in this film - where violent "raggare" roam the street, where people dance wild to topless guitar bands at every basement club, where dozens of girls running from the sauna straight into the snow is a daily sight, and where the most common form of exercise are those nutty rubber balls seen on the Japanese one-sheet (above)!

Below are a few other choice posters: the evocative German one-sheet and two different variations of the Italian locandina - original and re-release - all based on the same art concept.

The film has been hard to see for many years, but all that will change soon. The unstoppable enthusiasts at Klubb Super 8 are preparing a DVD release which will include the English narration and lots of memorabilia, including the posters seen here and many more. Until then, the party is right here on YouTube...

No comments: