Dipartimento di Musica e Spettacolo - CONFERENZE, Women and the Silent Screen Conference

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The Reinvention of the Cosmopolitan Heroine: Dimitri Buchowetski's Contribution to Swedish Silent Cinema
Jan Olsson

Last modified: 2010-05-12


Apart from a few Stiller comedies, the acclaimed Swedish films from 1917 to 1924 were predominantly set in rural contexts, often in historical milieu's and featuring protagonists wrestling with nature. Film historians have unanimously dismissed the post-Gösta Berling silent cinema in Sweden as a form of decadence compared to the halcyon days of Stiller and Sjöström. Their exile to Hollywood was relayed by a form of Swedish homeless cinema, as it were, often co-produced with European companies. This brand of cinematic cosmopolitanism, carried by powerful female protagonists, was brought about, I allege, by the tremendous critical success of Karusellen (The Carousel of Life, 1923). The film was directed by Dimitri Buchowetzski in Berlin with an international cast, shot by Julius Jaenzon, and produced by Svensk Filmindustri. The film is currently in the process of restoration in Stockholm from a surviving print from Moscow. This presumed lost film is key for the trajectory of SF’s business strategy. Its absence has structured the received histories’ uniform reading of this critical juncture of national cinema. My paper will situate Buchowetski's film in its complex production context while analyzing the role of screen heroines at a time when celebrated Swedishness was supplanted with critically dismissed cosmopolitanism. 

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