Ulla Isakssons script for the Swedish 1953-movie Kvinnohuset (USA: Caged Women) is the author of the 1952-book with the same name. A house for unmarried, divorced women, working. Each of them with their biography and tragic experience with the male.
Isa, frozen by her emotions after a divorced marriage, earns her living by predicting the future with her card game. Ameli, gossiping about everybody and everything. Sylvia, making fancy hats, taking the day as it comes, always on top. The in-God- believing-Vera; Sylvia inviting her when her lover cancels his visit: "Even Jesus drank wine", she assures Vera. Not to forget the House' attendants daughter, the mentally slow Rosa. Even she longs for love and warmth, deceived by her boy-friendly thief and pregnant by his rape. Each one of the women in the House are deceived in their search for tenderness and solidarity by the male. Now they care for each other and nobody else. Centered in the book and film is the drama between the divorced Anna Krook, her former husband Tryggve Krook and his latest lover, the young actress Eva Lind, moving into one of the apartments of the House.
The women of the House do not understand Annas tolerance for this arrangement. Isas cards predict evil death. In the restaurant of the House they have carnivalistic party (not in the book).
Dancing with each other, mocking the male, having fun at the border of homosexual lesbianism. This the reason for the 5 meters of the original 89 meters censured to 88 (akt 3: the homosexual episode shortened). Annas dance with Eva interrupts by Sylvia: time for the Song of the House: mocking the male, assuring themselves that "we are the masters in our own house". And when more champagne is brought, helped by Rosas father, Sylvia salutes for "the traditional salute for the absent male and the only present male, Rosas father. A salute for the hated and beloved: the man". Eva senses behind all this fake, the sadness. She leaves horrified and disgusted the party and caught by Isa. Isa offers to predict her future, telling her to follow the rules.
Are they important, asks Eva? Actually not. You and I are important. Isa tells of loves cruelty. Like a cat. Smooth, gentle, beautiful. And clever, deceitful showing the claws when it is time. After the spring events it is time for the summer.
While Eva accepts the offer of a summertourné, Tryggve and Anna have their traditional summer together. Rosas pregnancy is the reason for her jump from the rooftop. Eva, knowing of that pregnancy ends her affair with Tryggve. Him returning for the night to his wife's bed. During sleep he calls for Eva. This, too much for Annas gentle tolerance, strangles him in affect. She denies the sleeping pills Isa offers her in prison, ready to take her punishment. The movie starts with Amelis dogs failed pregnancy and ends with the dogs birth of puppies. Life goes on.
Depressed women, confronted by men who are everything else but men. The women of the House have to live with their disappointment and their melancholy, arranging themselves as good as it is. They have not only lost the 'man', the object of desire, they have lost desire. It happened not suddenly but as process in phases. The proof of this tragic event is the book and the movie (and how it was reacted to) and the real House in Stockholm: Welandersväg 12.
A subtle paradox. An example: immigrants are sad to leave their country for another. After some years the acceptance: "you will stop missing your country. You will lose the desire for it.", Slavoj Zizek. It is this the (USA: 'Caged Women') in their House experience: the loss of desire. Not the men but the loss of desire, the real cause of the womens melancholy and how the book and movie was received; the critics where everything else but good. Truth is revealed. Ulla Isakssons book Kvinnohuset, 1952, was written, knowing of the real Kvinnohuset, build 1941-1946.
While Ulla Isaksson wrote the book, she never visited Welanderväg 12, not to be influenced. The idea was Anna Johansson-Viborgs, 1942 (Anna Johansson-Viborg Foundation): a house for unmarried and divorced working women. Each woman could buy shares à 100 Kr to finance the building. The filming team wanted to shoot some scenes inside the House but was denied as the book dishonored the House; a personal connection with one of the inhabitants made it possible.
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