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I first saw Sytten in Denmark when I was about 19. Being the right age and in the right place, I LOVED it. It captured the Denmark I had come to love better than any other Danish film. Back in the States at age 23, the film turned up in my college-town theater, so I took my fiancé in order to "share some of my Danish experience." What I thought was a fun, boyish romp, was for her, the dirtiest thing she had ever seen. Now that my own sons are past that age, I'd love to see it again to see how it plays in my memory. I particularly remember the funniest scene with the lad struggling with masturbation and the local priest trying to, literally, help him out with it, "So we can repent together later." Then, after his own awkward experience with one of the farm girls, entering the farm house and seeing the maid on her knees scrubbing the floor. She had been coming on to him even though she was old enough to be his mother, but now with some experience under his belt, he quietly sneaked up behind her and gave her the thrill of her life. The older woman/young boy is a recurring theme in the Danish coming of age novels I've read, and this supposed autobiographical portrait of the writer fit right in.
I saw this film approximately 35 years ago and I have fond memories of its light hearted and liberal plot concerning adolescent sexuality.Much of the criticisms made of it are accurate enough but to concentrate on the positive aspects of this film I would maintain that its joyful celebration of sexually confident women attempting to seduce a young guy is every adolescents fantasy and accurately portrayed in this film.various scenes are recalled in memory..the maid viewing him as potential lover..a woman on the train eating an apple seductively...to repeat the wholesale celebration of sexuality in a liberal fearless context.That does it for me.
The film is set in the Danish provincial town of Nybro, though it opens
and closes in Copenhagen. It is 1913 and the Danes smell war in the air
- though they are uncertain whether it will involve them or not.
The film falls very oddly between being a not-very-interesting sex-comedy (all the women seem anxious to get laid, but we see very little except copious lingerie from any of them) and a much more intriguing montage of village life reacting to imminent war with a mixture of confusion and indifference.
One could certainly watch the film without any attention to the erotic element. Sytten contains one of the few accurate loss-of-virginity scenes before Catherine Breillat, but all the rest of the porn is so anodyne as to be tedious. The photography of Nybro is lovingly attentive to detail though, and the attempt to capture belle epoque class certainty and political confusion if genuinely thought provoking.
I thought this was a very good film, though I can see why it will disappoint almost everyone who watches it. The erotic content is either silly or annoyingly accurate (the people who watch erotic films seldom have any interest in real sex) but it certainly gets in the way of the rather unusual gentle nostalgia which should have been the film's forte.
The other films I've seen from Anneliese Meineche were all just as confused.
An indescribably crude slice of Danish humor that shocked the prudes in the U.S. in 1967, complete with male and female nudity (including a brief female "full frontal" shot), all of which kept the film in "art house" venues. The plot has a virginal schoolboy Jacob (played by a somewhat overaged-looking Ole Soltoft) visiting relatives for summer and within one month goes from innocence to satyriasis. The family maid attempts to seduce him, and he is drawn into his own sexual awakening by his cousin, in the only truly erotic sequence of the movie, which comes in the final ten minutes or so. ERIC SOYA'S 17 is not subtle, either. It plays as a slapstick comedy and it seems that the actors were instructed to mug and roll their eyes as much as possible. There is even a syrupy title song, "Seventeen," sung in Ed Ames style to an ersatz 101 Strings accompaniment. That said, the film will not appeal to viewers raised on 1980s-style sex comedies, as ERIC SOYA'S 17 is slow-moving and "arty" in the manner of most 1960s cinematic erotica.
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