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I Am Curious Yellow/Blue (1967) - Vilgot Sjöman
Related: erotic movies - Sweden
I Am Curious Yellow/I Am Curious Blue (1967) - Vilgot Sjöman [Amazon.com]
(I Am Curious Yellow/I Am Curious Blue Set) (1967) - Vilgot Sjöman [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]
When the crowds actually saw the picture, however, they felt cheated; pubic hair was in short supply, the sex was unerotic, and the running time mostly given over to a droll, Brechtian-Pirandellian, mock-vérité exploration of the chasm between the political and the personal. Not that it wasn’t shocking in its day. I was twenty-one when I saw it with my father, who took it in stride until that notorious moment when Lena kisses her lover’s flaccid penis, at which point he observed with dismayed awe, “They used to arrest you if you had something like that in your home.” -- Gary Giddins, http://www.criterionco.com/asp/release.asp?id=180&eid=283§ion=essay
I Am Curious (Yellow) is a Swedish film (Jag är nyfiken - en film i gult) of 1967, directed by Vilgot Sjöman and staring Lena Nyman as herself.
It was a landmark film that helped define the emergent change in Swedish film of the 1960s. Like a French New Wave film, the movie used jump cuts, featured a story not structured in the usual, Hollywood structure.
The film includes scenes of nudity and sexual intercourse. In 1969, the film was banned in the United States for being pornography. After three court battles the Supreme Court legalized the movie by overturning the anti-obscenity law that regulated motion pictures.
In 1968 Sjöman released a second "version" of the movie titled I Am Curious (Blue) which tells mostly the same story, but with different footage.
Initially, I Am Curious (Blue) and I Am Curious (Yellow) were meant to be one 3 1/2 hour film. This is revealed in director Vilgot Sjöman's book I Was Curious: Diary of the Making of a Film (published in English by Grove Press in 1968). --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/I_Am_Curious_(Yellow) [Apr 2005]
Blurb to the book
One of the most significant films of the past ten years is I Am Curious - Yellow, which was made by the Swedish director, Vilgot Sjöman, whose earlier films included My Sister, My Love and 491. Wherever the film has been shown in Europe - in Sweden, Denmark, Germany, France, and now in the United States - it has been acclaimed by critics as an important work of art in its honest and forthright portrayal of the social, political, and sexual problems of today's youth. blurb via http://www.users.globalnet.co.uk/~jimthing/oyellow.htm
In 1966-67, with 100,000 meters of black-and-white film and freedom to shoot without a script, director Vilgot Sjöman created a motion picture so rangy and multilayered that it became two separate, overlapping movies released a year apart: I Am Curious Yellow and I Am Curious Blue. Those are the colors of the Swedish flag, and Sjöman's film tapped into the political, social, and psychosexual condition of his nation on the eve of worldwide cultural revolution.
It also became a envelope-pushing event in the history of sex in the cinema. A feisty, rather zaftig actress-activist named Lena Nyman played a radical activist named Lena Nyman who, in between interviewing her fellow Swedes about everything from gender inequities to the morality of vacationing in Franco's Spain, spent lots of raunchy time in bed (and elsewhere). The copious frontal nudity and a glimpse of oral-genital contact ensured an epic court battle in America, and I Am Curious Yellow became a must-see conversation piece.
Decades later, it all seems not only fresher than it did then but oddly tender, even sweet. Sjöman, 42 years old to Nyman's 22, cast himself as her lover (which he was) as well as her director, and the film is occasionally "interrupted" by its own filming. Sjöman/"Sjöman" has to watch Lena/"Lena" doing some very intimate things with costar Börje Ahlstedt. Börje is playing a car salesman, but also playing "himself" as an actor sometimes intriguing against his director with "Lena"--not "Lena the activist" but "Lena the actress," both of whom Lena the actress-for-real is playing. The Pirandellianism is witty, raw, and lingeringly ambiguous. And now DVD adds another layer if you happen to watch with the commentary track engaged and listen to the seventysomething Sjöman, still musing wryly on the radical fusion of film and life at whose creation he was present. --Richard T. Jameson, amazon.com
Amos Vogel review:
A cluttered room, a hastily made floor bed, an eager young couple: a scene from the legendary work that opened commercial cinema to eroticism and pornography. Sex is demystified, desentimentalized, shown as a part of life. Coital activity is frequently and directly shown; but there are no erections not penetrations, as there are in today's hardcore films. SC
The historical task of the leadership, said Rosa Luxemburg, is to make itself unnecessary. This is precisely what happened to this legendary, much-maligned work; prime catalyst of the new "permissive" cinema, it was quickly superseded by works that went further though not necessarily deeper. In retrospect, its primary virtue lies in its erotic realism. Perhaps no other film before it was as direct in presuming that everybody does it, knows about it, enjoys it; does it at times with laughter, or imperfectly, tenderly, or in rage, and that it is silly to exclude so human and beloved an enterprise from the screen. Thus we see sex done on a hastily cleared floor (though the bra at first will not unhook), in a lake (with a long-shot of heaving buttocks periodically emerging from the water), in a tree (a messy, giggly affair), from behind (in anger and lust), and while straddling the balustrade of the Royal Palace in Stockholm, with a guard in attention, sweating to keep his composure amidst dropping panties and voluptuous movements. The lovemaking throughout is neither titillating, mechanical, bourgeois nor "deeply significant"; but casual and free, filled with warmth, strife, and experimentation. He is her "Number 30" or so and there will be others (including Sjoman, the film's director who periodically enters the action, and intentionally blurs reality and illusion).
The portrayal of sex goes further than ever before. There is no mistaking the spread legs, the man between them, the movements, the outspoken dialogue. Yet, while sex organs are sometimes shown and even (somewhat) manipulated, we see no erection nor penetration.
But the sex scenes (at least on first viewing) overshadow the film's main theme: the attack on the values (or lack of values) of the Swedish welfare state and contemporary society in general. Alienation, cynicism, and boredom seem to characterize the people appearing in its many political discussions and interviews. The young heroine both investigates and symbolizes the social and sexual mores of an affluent and fatigued welfare state, fearful of revealing itself as a class society. The sexual episodes are used as counterpoint to the alienation she feels towards her society and appear as attempts (however superficial) at human reaffirmation; they are essential components of an ideological statement.
The final subversion of the work is in its form. Sjoman, as other c contemporary filmmakers, aims at immediacy and veracity by constantly breaking down the boundaries between fiction and reality (even to the extent of appearing within the film as its director, commenting on its action, and having the actress conduct real interviews with real passers-by). The spectator is thus confron- ted with the need to redefine the concept of reality in his own life. --Film As a Subversive Art (1974) - Amos Vogel
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