My Sister My Love (1966) Poster

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Bed Siblings
EdgarST24 June 2006
In the 1960s cinema was an important source of sexual education for Latin American teenagers (and I guess anywhere else too), no matter how incomplete the information was, since the motion pictures with erotic elements had not been made with educational purposes. There were the nudie films, the movies "with a medical warning", or boring "scientific" documentaries, which all lacked a sense of life, fun or sexual urge; and of course, there were the pornographic shorts which did not circulate freely. Priests in my school were constantly warning us students what movies we should not see. They could not care less about Argentinean soft-porno star Isabel Sarli, whose movies were mainly pictorials, with a big centerfold of La Coca's large bosom; but when it came to films as Ingmar Bergman's "The Silence", red lights would immediately flash in my classroom. "Syskonbädd 1782" did not catch their attention. The original title means something like "Bed Siblings", but since it was euphemistically retitled "The Fire" in Panama (in the United Kingdom it was given a more obvious title: "My Sister My Love"), the priests ignored its subject was an incestuous love affair in Sweden, between a man and his sister, who was about to marry a noble man, during the eighteenth century. I went to see it and it caused me a little commotion. I still remember it as a very good film, treating its subject with intelligence, showing how moral rules affected the relationship (with more dramatic results for the sister), striking black-and-white cinematography, and great performances by Bibi Andersson and Per Oscarsson. It was also one of the first movies to show male pubic hair, which announced what director Vilgot Sjöman would do next: the remarkable diptych "I Am Curious: Yellow" and "I Am Curious: Blue." I saw these two films for the first time in 2005 and was very well impressed. "Syskonbädd 1782" and the two "I Am Curious" films have aged very well, and place Sjöman among the best European filmmakers of that decade. I recommend them highly.
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A 'drama of ideas.' Thought provoking, challenging, original.
elephantsremember2 April 2005
Warning: Spoilers
Bibi Andersson is my favourite actress and was the reason I first saw this film. I wasn't disappointed-it ranks with her other great performances like 'Persona' and 'A Passion.' I saw this film some time ago and found it visually stunning. It has stayed with me like all the other films I consider great, not only Andersson's memorable performance (which would make the film worthwhile alone) the images, the setting, the time in which it takes place, the social climate, and the tantalising subject of incest, which I have never seen dealt with on film so delicately, as a psychological study of a woman sexually repressed and dominated by society, expertly handled by Andersson, are all factors in my love of this film.

Set in Sweden in 1782. A young nobleman, named Jacob (Per Oscarsson) returns from France to his home and cherished sister Charlotte (Bibi Andersson) who is engaged to Baron Alsameden (Jarl Kulle). The siblings close relationship becomes incestuous and with fear that the disclosure of Charlotte's pregnancy will make society view them as libertines, the lovers ultimately choose to part, Jacob decides to leave the country and Charlotte if left to marry the Baron, but the benefits of this film are not found in the story but in the people involved within, greatly achieved by superb performances.

Sjöman Uses the taboo subject of incest (which got the film into trouble with the censors) as a 'Drama of ideas'.

The film has understandably been compared to the work of Ingmar Bergman, director Vilgot Sjöman was an assistant to Bergman, crisp black and white photography and psychological viewpoint with Bergman's most frequent leading lady Bibi Andersson running the gauntlet of physiological trauma, Gunnar Björnstrand and Jarl Kulle appear in many Bergman films and both star in this film, are obvious reasons why. The only film I can compare this one to is 'Coup de Grace' which also balances a powerful performance, history, relevant subject matter, sexual repression and politics.

This movie survives as a document of a truly great performance of cinema, social attitudes, conflicting concepts of human liberty in question, human behaviour and sensational subject matter treated with sensitively and maturity by an underrated director. The long over due release of this great film on VHS or DVD is outrageous and really should be available to those who have not been fortunate enough to see it and for those who have, and would gladly purchase it as a worthy member of any film collection, Criterion and other DVD companies please take notice! Although the film is certainly not for everyone, I am sure it would be greatly welcomed by those who expect a thought provoking, challenging, original piece of true art.
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