I AM CURIOUS, 1967
Directed by Vilgot Sjoman
Starring: Lena Nyman, Börje Ahlstedt, Vilgot Sjoman.
Review by Jordan Young
A film that revolves around Lena, a young Swedish sociologist, that is on a quest to find an answer to every question that her mind creates. These questions usually revolve around love, politics, sexuality, and Sweden’s current cultural taboos.SYNOPSIS:
Sometimes a film makes headlines just because of the controversy that it creates. This is certainly the case with Vilgot Sjoman’s ” I Am Curious (Yellow)”. In this bizarre, pseudo-documentary, Lena interviews and investigates a myriad of people to try to determine answers to the hot button issues of that time.
This film was shot in the same fashion as the New Wave films. There are a lot of non-linear jump cuts that are very distracting, but nonetheless, some of the subjects explored are captivating topics. One of which, being sexuality, became a giant controversy and prevented the release of the film in the States. Sjoman was not reportedly not a fan of the policies of censorship in the States, or in his native Sweden.
Serious subject matter within this film is shown in a very light manner. On several occasions through out the film, the effects used, come off as campy and smarmy. Sjoman is telling us to not take his subject matter too seriously.
In addition to the “plot” of Lena investigating, there is an aspect of this film that focuses on the how this film is being made. There are some very interesting dynamics between the director and actress. This relationship only raises more questions for the viewer. How much of Lena’s role in the film is due to the director wanting to sleep with her? This is a nice addition to the already confusing sexual politics of the 1960’s.
Easily the most controversial scene in the film, the sex scene, is one of the most anti-climactic sex scenes in the history of the film. It is clear that Sjoman didn’t intend for this to be viewed as a “Showtime Red Shoe Diary” type of sex scene. As a viewer, you disconnect from all erotic aspects of this scene, and you view it almost from a sociological perspective.
It is just a sex scene, which is a nice change of pace from the over-stylized, big presentation type of sex scenes of films we are currently used to… there is no payoff. However, I was a little distracted by thinking about how Sjoman himself feels about filming a sex scene with a girl he wants to have sex with.
This film should be taken in as a time capsule of the 1960’s. There are many political causes that Lena is protesting. The film itself should just be viewed as one giant protest. It comes off as anything you would normally expect from a 60’s protest film, but it shows it in the styles of the French New Wave. This new ideology combined with these new aesthetics creates a really refreshing package as a whole. Also, a appearance and speech by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. makes this film a must see for budding sociologists, as well as anyone interested in activism.