A moral with a story, instead of a story with a moral

Review of G - som i Gemenskap (1983)

Review of G - som i Gemenskap (1983) movie, by Stefan Stenudd


G stands for gemenskap, which is Swedish for fellowship, the feeling of togetherness. This is the message of the movie - together we can help each other stay on the right path.



       Cute, but not exactly revolutionary news - not to mention its omitting of how difficult it actually is to feel togetherness, when things get complicated.

       But in this movie, nothing is allowed to get complicated. We meet a few teens with very teenish problems, in their most over-simplified form, and see how they first succumb to different kinds of temptation, but later - yes, with the help of each other - manage to get free of them. It's all as easy as bread-in-a-box.

       Of course, such simplified dilemmas and solutions function only with a moral which is just as simple - and it needs to be intolerant and conformist. Silly, too.

       The film was a huge hit with teens, when first released - although it tried to teach them to 'stay in school' in every way. Critics despised it, for good reasons. Now, time has kindly been transporting it toward oblivion.

       But one anomaly remains to be considered with this movie: With such an uncool moral oozing from it, how could it be a hit with the kids? Was it because the adult world expressed its contempt for it? That, teens can always relate to.


PS

I met the director of this and other successful Swedish teen movies in the 1980's, Staffan Hildebrand, a few times in the mid 1980's. He was sort of a G-rated (pardon the pun) version of Larry Clark.

       Although his films were usually about kids from ragged suburban areas, he had an upperclass upbringing. His ignorance of the working class was quite evident at times. Once, he was going to visit a factory and meet the welders, in preparation for a film he was making. I told him that he might be surprised at the intellectual awareness of the workers. He nodded, but did not seem convinced.

       Next time we met, he told me enthusiastically that an old welder had asked him:

       "So your name is Hildebrand. Any relation with the historian Karl Hildebrand?"

       "He was my granddad," Staffan replied, quite surprised that the welder knew about him.

       It turned out that the welder was very interested in history and had read a lot of Karl Hildebrand's texts. Staffan had not.

Stefan Stenudd
8 January 2003




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