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aka - Froken Julie
Sweden 1951
Directed by
Alf Sjoberg
89 minutes
Rated M

Reviewed by
Bernard Hemingway
3.5 stars

Miss Julie (1951)

Based on the play of the same name by August Strindberg, Miss Julie deals with class, sex and power in late 19th century Sweden as the title character, the only daughter of a widowed Count and one of his servants share their secrets during the course of a day when Midsummer is being celebrated with much carousing and drunkenness.

Director Alf Sjöberg had directed a stage version of the play in 1949, starring Ulf Palme as Jean and Inga Tidblad in the title role. Palme returns for the lead in the film but Tidblad who was almost 50 was replaced by the 27-year-old Anita Björk, although the director retained the former’s interpretation, making for a slightly stilted characterization in what is nevertheless a strikingly-directed film that won the Grand Prize at the 1951 Cannes Film Festival.

Sjöberg intriguingly merges past and present as the two main characters relate their stories to each other, switching from one time frame to the other through camera movement rather by cutting. This works brilliantly to suggest the disintegrating world of Miss Julie at both a social and psychological level. Sjöberg also makes use of dramatic framing and camera angles to express the emotional stress of his characters, techniques which would become characteristic of the films of Ingmar Bergman who, one imagines, would have studied this film closely (eventula Bergman regular Max Von Sydow has a.minor role as a buffoonish estate hand).

FYI: Strindberg’s play was also filmed in 1999 by Mike Figgis.




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