because the woman's place is wherever the woman is...

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Mai Zetterling

As a drop-dead gorgeous young Swedish movie starlet in the 1940's and 1950's, Mai Zetterling received plenty of applause and made a lot of money. But in the 1960's, when she moved into film direction, instead, as actors often want to do, things went differently.

In her autobiography, All Those Tomorrows, she wrote: "When the reviews of my first full-length feature movie came out, I was horrified to read that 'Mai Zetterling directs like a man'...[I was] not the same any more in the eyes of men...[It took years to realize that] the change I had made was positive and, in the end, the only way."

Her ultimate response to her critics was to begin making movies that examined how women are seen and treated in society.  "The Girls," for example -- produced in 1968 and suggesting that the modern day condition of women isn't vastly different than that presented in the ancient Greek play "Lysistrata" -- not only pulled no punches, but was voted in 2012 one of the twenty-five best Swedish films of all time.

Zetterling's in-your-facedness, of course, brought her even more criticism. In fact, at one point for at least a while, she was kept under surveillance by British agents as a possible Communist. As if being an in-your-face woman automatically makes one a proponent of a particular political or economic view. Silly, isn't it?

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