Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Ingmar Bergman, Andy Griffith


I guess I haven't seen that many Swedish movies. Because the three most recent Swedish movies I've seen are Fanny & Alexander, Pelle the Conquorer, and one called Slingshot.

Come to think of it, I've also seen My Life as a Dog and a terrible, cheap action movie with Dennis Hopper as a CIA agent.

But, those three movies, Fanny & Alexander, Pelle the Conquorer, and Slingshot had one thing in common. Well. Two or three things. They were about kids, they were historical dramas, and they all had extremely disturbing corporal punishment scenes. It seemed ironic since Sweden was the first country to completely ban spanking.

What does this say about movie violence? You had these disturbing, violent scenes. They couldn't claim they were reflecting the violence in society. They couldn't claim that they were really protesting against violence since hitting kids is already illegal there. On the other hand, the scenes were such that the filmmakers couldn't be accused of advocating violence.

It could just be that the practice if beating children is so shocking to Swedes today that they couldn't ignore or gloss over it in movies set in the past. In the same way, Americans couldn't make a movie set in Alabama in the 1960s without commenting on racism.

Can you set a movie in the deep South in the '60s without mentioning the Civil Rights struggle? Would it be racist to do so? I've heard The Andy Griffith Show denounced as racist on that basis-----a show about a Southern Sheriff in an all-white town. And The Beverly Hillbillies, with Granny and her Confederate flag and her belief that the South won the war, all this while Civil Rights workers were being murdered in the streets.

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