Jul 252011

I’m not sure if the original Swedish title, I am curious (yellow), has the same double meaning as it does in English. I.e. the protagonist, a young Swedish woman named Lena, is both inquisitive, and an enigma herself.

I have a strong suspicion that a lot of people attending this movie in the USA were hoping to see some skin and were probably disappointed and confused.

About the first quarter of the film is Lena doing street interviews with various people about the class system or lack thereof in Sweden, followed by various interviews and documentary footage about various forms of non-violent resistance, such as people laying down on railway tracks and factory workers sabotaging their machinery. IIRC, at the time an armed invasion by Soviets seemed a very real possibility. All of this is told in a non-linear fashion, with the story jumping between the making-of, with the director and film crew on screen; the real interviews Lena does; the staged interviews Lena does; documentary footage of Martin Luther King visiting Sweden; Lena’s love-hate relationship with her father; Lena’s love-hate relationship with her bourgeois lover; flashbacks to a rather disturbing scene of a child in a crib (presumably young Lena) banging her head against a wall; and Lena’s fantasies about all of this.

Lena’s sex scenes with her bourgeois lover, while not hardcore, have a remarkable intimacy and naturalness. This film is not shy about male frontal nudity, either. This must have been quite a revelation in the 1960s, particularly the scene in which Lena lightly kisses her lover’s penis. Even today, it’s rare to see people have sex on screen that has this kind of spontaneous feel to it.

Most of the sex occurs in the middle part. That summer, Lena hides out in the countryside, meditating, fasting, doing yoga, reading on non-violence books by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and walking around bare-breasted and wearing a sarong. Her boyfriend shows up and she immediately loads up the shotgun and starts shooting; so much for non-violence. She apparently can’t stay mad at him, and they frolic (no other word for it) in the grass.

However, she eventually finds out about his wife and child, has several angry naked arguments with him, and steals the hairdryer he bought for his wife. That’s kind of the downward slope of the story, as their relationship falls apart and the story shifts to the “making of” layer, with the actor and actress visibly uncomfortable with each other.

There’s not a lot of what most people would consider kink, except perhaps a fantasy scene (sort of) in which Lena, pissed at her lover for being such a bourgeois hypocrite, ties about a dozen men to a tree and then shoots him in front of them. Lena later fantasizes about apologizing to Martin Luther King (via stock footage) for not living up to his ideals.

I am Curious: Yellow is not a good film, but it is definitely an interesting one. It’s all tangled together in a confusing, yet lively mess, hailing from a time when people genuinely thought film and sex could be socially and politically revolutionary. There’s a scene early on when Lena and another young woman are sitting in Lena’s crowded bedroom. In seconds, their conversation switches from techniques of non-violent revolution to techniques of masturbation (shower wand vs. vibrator). To these women, at this time and place, this was all related. Change your body, change the world.

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