Swedish Sensationsfilms, by Daniel Ekeroth. Brooklyn: Bazillion Points Press, 2011. Trade paperback. $19.99.
Ekeroth has a morbid sense of irony, as when discussing a 1976 film based on Kafka’s Metamorphisis called Forvandlingen: “In a curious case of fact emulating fiction, after the release of this film the director — like his protagonist — was totally neglected and ignored by audiences, critics, and the Swedish Film Institute forever.” (70). On the opposite page he discusses a film that no one has ever seen called Frander: “Since I don’t know anyone who has seen this lost film, I can’t even confirm its existence.” Damn, dude! But thanks for mentioning it! It’s that kind of loving attention to arcane detail that makes Ekeroth’s book such a page-turning must.
Well, good news: the whole film is on youtube! Bad news: no subtitles. Learn Swedish! Or just dig the frisson of the handheld fourth-wall documentary style and the disconnect of not knowing what the hell folks are saying (if you’re Swedish, salut! I’m all Swedish on my mother’s side).
Ekeroth has a gift — reminiscent of Psychotronic author Michael Weldon — for writing engagingly frank synopses and descriptions of audience reaction, censorship problems, longevity, and whatever else is relevant (few films get longer than 3/4 of a page; only a few like Thriller: A Cruel Picture fill the page). We get a motherlode of sexy stills. The Swedish women are, of course, jaw-droppingly beautiful in their alien Nordic splendor; all have magnificent non-augmented breasts, if you’ll pardon the expression, and there’s not enough nudity in the book to make it “adult” per se, just “natural,” albeit not for children.
But for anyone over a certain age with an interest in sexy Swedish cinema that goes beyond the leftist anarchy of I Am Curious Yellow, the innocent sex of early Bergman films like The Summer with Monika (1953, marketed in the U.S. by Kroger Babb “along the lines of a Russ Meyer picture”) and the horrific assaults and stifling air of institutionalized misogyny in the Millennium Trilogy better go get this, nowkommen! Ekertoth has dug up a million idle hours of eye-to-the-grindstone, page-turning sensation for curious readers, and they’d be doing a disservice to cinema, Sweden, and Satan, to miss it..