Sweden 1951. A new society is developing, a society where there is no room for the socially and mentally weak. Gertrud is a 17 year old girl from a very poor family. Against her will, she ...
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Sweden 1951. A new society is developing, a society where there is no room for the socially and mentally weak. Gertrud is a 17 year old girl from a very poor family. Against her will, she is committed to a work home for young women. Gertrud learns that the only way out is by agreeing to a voluntary sterilization. Gertrud falls in love with the janitor, Axel and soon finds herself pregnant. She dreams about a normal family life with Axel and the child, and doesnt realize that when performing the operation the doctor will most certainly take the child away. She changes her mind about the operation but she no longer has a choice. Now there is only one way out: She pretends to be mentally deranged and is transferred to a mental hospital. A child grows in her womb. Gertrud has fooled the system, but the price she pays is her own future.
Finnish-Swedish screenwriter and director Klaus Harö's third feature film which was written by Swedish screenwriter and director Kjell Sundstedt, who had promised his mother Gertrud that he one day would tell her story, and screenwriter Jimmy Karlsson is based on actual events concerning the Swedish compulsory sterilization which occurred from 1934 to 1974 of approximately sixty-three thousand people who were considered of inferior intellectual functioning. Most of them were women and somewhere between twenty-thirty thousand of these sterilizations were compulsory. It was screened and the opening film at the 30th Gothenburg International Film Festival in 2007 and In competition at the 10th Shanghai International Film Festival in 2007, was shot on location in Lindsberg, Dalarna in Sweden and is a Swedish-Finnish co-production which was produced by Director of Funding & Promotion at the Swedish Film Institute Charlotta Denward and Finnish producer, screenwriter, film editor and director Claes Olsson. It tells the story about 17-year-old Gertrud Johansson. Gertrud is the eldest of seven brothers and sisters in a poor family and lives with them and her widowed father. Due to the family being regarded as a burden on society by the municipal authorities, she is sent off to live at a work home for girls aiming to build ideal citizens. After being welcomed to Odenslund by the head nurse named Solbritt and informed about why she is there and what she will have to do there, Gertrud begins to look for ways to go back home. Some of the girls who lives at Odenslund are kind to Gertrud, but when she meets Jenny, a bitter young mother who gets through her days at Odenslund by taunting the other girls, she escapes only to learn that all of her siblings have been placed in foster-homes. Gertrud realizes that going against the Swedish welfare state is a lost cause and that her only way out of Odenslund is by agreeing to be sterilized, but then she notices the janitor at Odenslund named Axel.
Finely and subtly directed by Finnish-Swedish filmmaker Klaus Harö, this humane and heartrending drama which is narrated by Maria Lundqvist as the head nurse, draws a dense portrayal of a young woman's experiences and relations at a remote institution for girls during the mid-20th century in a municipal society in Sweden. While notable for its naturalistic milieu depictions, fine production design by Swedish production designer and art director Cian Bornebusch and cinematography by Finnish cinematographer Jarkko T. Laine, this dialog-driven and narrative-driven story which examines themes like friendship, poverty, social distinctions, eugenics, human rights and human dignity, depicts a reflective study of character and contains a good score by American composer and violinist Michael Galasso (1949-2009) which emphasizes its significant atmosphere.
Though depicting a bleak chapter in Swedish history which envisages how a selection of human beings were stigmatized and deprived from their fundamental rights by a welfare state who regarded them as unworthy, this finely paced period piece which is set against the backdrop of a province in central Sweden during a spring in late March 1951, tells an informative and poignant tale which is impelled and reinforced by the engaging acting performances by Swedish actresses Julia Högberg, Maria Lundqvist and Lo Kauppi. A somewhat theatrical, biographical and gripping narrative feature which gained the Jury Grand Prize Klaus Härö at the 10th Shanghai Film Festival in 2007.
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