Wednesday, 2 July 2014

I Am Curious (Yellow) [1967]

I Am Curious (Yellow) – the colour being a reference to Sweden’s flag – was the first film in Vilgot Sjöman’s experimental, self-referential, controversial and arthouse I Am Curious series. With its freestyle, rambling and loosely structured narrative, original idea, jazzy tempo, cinéma vérité  form, audacious blend of real and reel, lacerating sociopolitical critique of the country, brilliant evocation of 60’s zeitgeist in its exploration of such elements as leftist politics and movements, counter-culture, class systems, international imperialism, culture of protests and sexual liberation, and a marvelous dose of droll humour and subversive wit, this managed to be a polarizing watch upon its release and a delightful one for me. Called “obscene” upon its release by the puritans and constantly shifted from documentary to feature mode and back, the film-within-a-film had director Sjöman making a pseudo-documentary on Sweden’s socio-political standpoints and conservativeness with his lover cum lead actress Lena Nyman, a young college student, interviewing people at random on topics ranging from Martin Luther King’s endorsement of non-violence to Swedish tourists visiting Franco’s Spain to subjugation of women in the society to income disparities. In a parallel strand, it also covered Lena’s complex relation with her father (Peter Lindgren), her growing affair with Börje (Börje Ahlstedt), a suave car-dealer with a young daughter, her inner dilemmas, and her conflicts between conventionality and radicalism. The alternate Ten Commandments, were, in itself, worth its weight in gold for the lacerating and radical commentary on the “as is” and “to be” behavioral traits in its cocktail of socialism, freedom of choice and ethics. The excellent B/W photography, low-cost footages and hand-held camerawork added to its unique, bold and freewheeling nature.

Director: Vilgot Sjoman
Genre: Black Comedy/Social Satire/Political Satire/Experimental/Avant-Garde
Language: Swedish
Country: Sweden

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