EROTIKON surely pushed the boundaries of what was acceptable on the screen in 1920: Irene, the bored wife of a distracted entomologist, pursues a womanizing aviator, but she may actually be...
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EROTIKON surely pushed the boundaries of what was acceptable on the screen in 1920: Irene, the bored wife of a distracted entomologist, pursues a womanizing aviator, but she may actually be in love with Preben, her husband's best friend. Meanwhile, her husband seems to be getting unusually close with his own niece. Stiller obviously delights in teasing his audience with each scandalous plot twist and every salacious leer, and the result is a deliciously subversive comedy that was very much ahead of its time.Written by
Authentic Introduction to Great Swedish Productions
Beside Victor Sjostrom, the well known director of THE PHANTOM CARRIAGE, the man who contributed his wonderfully individual style into the silent productions of Svensk Filmindustrie and, consequently, into the world cinema was Mauritz Stiller. What a great name for many movie historians! The man who took all pains to make his productions special, the director who creatively brought to screen Selma Lagerlof's immortal novels, the tutor famous for discovering Greta Gustafsson (Greta Garbo)...one could endlessly continue with the significant facts. Yet, that is not the case. What seems to be important here is Stiller's innovation and his mesmerizing ability to surprise viewers. Such a surprise is his EROTIKON, a 1920 silent film which would surely meet the standards of a comedy, a vivid action film, a romantic picture with subtle images and a glorious boast of fine acting.
The content of EROTIKON is seemingly simple and refers mostly to the relations, or better said 'inter-relations' among people. Yet, we have to realize that the film is being seen nowadays from the entirely different perspective with the entirely new vision of certain aspects. Naturally, even the things we expect in a comedy changed. Any silent film is, of course, being seen differently. When we consider the content regarding this very knowledge, EROTIKON occurs to be revolutionary, much ahead of its time. Stiller proves to be extremely open to modern thinking and, as a result, he becomes a milestone in the later trends in cinema. Certain notions on marriage, on the place of women in society, on the superiority of feelings to old, dusted regulations are particularly modern and appealing to an average movie buff nowadays. Here, the open minded thinking is so fresh, so unique, so absorbing though the film is, paradoxically, almost a century old. Why? Because EROTIKON is no preacher of what the things should be like but places the characters in the superior positions.
Since the characters make for the story, it is thanks to them that we enjoy the film. A few people are in the lead and...their emotions, desires, dreams seem to achieve their intensity and climax at the end. This is Professor Leo (Anders De Wahl). Most professors are famous for their researches and it depends, of course, what they research on...Leo's researches are quite peculiar...their subject are the beetles. He is a book buff, a calm man who loves very concrete schedule and takes life rather optimistically. Being naive in erotic tensions here and there, he skips certain desires around. Yet, he detests one thing: dramatic endings. His wife, Irene (Tora Teje) is a character worth consideration. She is a sort of prototype of a modern woman, independent of her husband, a woman who has a clear idea of what to do with life once giving a furrier a lesson of patience, another time traveling with a 'new Ikar' by helicopter, Baron Felix. Played by Tora Teje, she is given some marvelous moments of humor. Consider her waving at the husband or flirting scenes. Then comes a young, youthful, pretty, enthusiastic Marte (Karin Molander), a sweetie who loves sweets, a character who represents a light-hearted glimpse of a young girl: listening curiously to Professor's lecture on beetles' sexual life at the door, smoking a cigarette when the guests have left, making certain sensual moves meant to arouse men. She surprises us most at the end... Finally comes Preben (Lars Hanson), the best friend of the professor who has a crush on Irene...he appears to be fluent, more aware of life, sophisticated and burning within, burning with desire. Wonderfully portrayed by Lars Hanson, the actor who later became famous in Hollywood, the character of Prebel is very clear and memorable.
Those four characters supply us with wonderful tension that you will never forget. Their plots are so strongly linked to the strange fate of Shah and his wife in the Schaname that the opera sequence makes a perfect sense in the movie.
When seeing EROTIKON one may notice many other innovations, artistic features that played such a decisive role in Stiller's productions. For the director who had an unbelievable flair for beauty, the film could not come out with the lack of elegant wardrobe, wonderful sets, stunning visuals, catchy close-ups, fluent camera work and the technologically modern (for the time) stimuli like phones in a car and a helicopter. It all adds a certain amount of artistic pleasure and makes EROTIKON a valuable, enjoyable movie.
There is, moreover, one more aspect I would like to add when considering the artistic aspect. It is the great job done by Alva Lindbohm Lundin and the whole aesthetics and creativity in the subtitles. The pictures, created by her in the Svensk Filmindustrie, include birds chirping as the symbol of flirting or a question mark between the hearts symbolizing the dilemma who loves whom. These are just a few among the whole chain of wonderful ideas.
Some people will perhaps say that there are many elements of American cinema...true to a certain extent...like modern music often models upon immortal classical pieces, the same has occurred to happen in cinema...EROTIKON is a highly recommended film as an authentic presentation of certain aspects, as a tribute to feelings that should reign our acts, as the beautiful song "Jeg Elsker Dig" (I love you) that mysteriously showed the characters the paths they should take. A brilliant silent film!
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