FrÖken Julie - Film (Movie) Plot and Review





(Miss Julie)


Sweden, 1950


Director: Alf Sjöberg

Production: Sandrew Bauman Produktion; black and white, 35mm; running time: 87 minutes, some sources list 90 minutes. Released 1950. Filmed in Sweden.


Producer: Rune Waldekranz; screenplay: Alf Sjöberg, from the play by August Strindberg; photography: Göran Strindberg; editor: Lennart Wallén; art director: Bibi Lindström; music: Dag Wirén.


Cast: Anita Björk ( Miss Julie ); Ulf Palme ( Jean ); Anders Henrikson ( The Count ); Marta Dorff ( Christine ); Lissi Alandh ( Berta, the Countess ); Inga Gill ( Viola ); Kurt-Olof Sundstrom ( The fiancé ); Ake Claessens ( Doctor ); Jan Hagerman ( Jean, as a child ); Inger Norberg ( Julie as a child ); Ake Fridell ( Robert ); Max von Sydow ( Groom ).


Award: Cannes Film Festival, Best Film (shared with Miracolo a Milano ), 1951; Honored at Venice Film Festival, as part of a retrospective program, 1964.


Publications


Books:

Cowie, Peter, Swedish Cinema , New York, 1966.

Cowie, Peter, and Arne Svensson, Sweden , New York, 2 vols., 1970.

Barsacq, Leon, Caligari's Cabinet and Other Grand Illusions: A History of Film Design , New York, 1976.

Klinowski, Jacek, and Adam Garbicz, Cinema, the Magic Vehicle: A Guide to Its Achievement: Journey Two , Metuchen, New Jersey, 1979.

Lundin, G., Filmregi Alf Sjöberg , Lund, 1979.

Ek, Sverker R., Spelplatsens magi: Alf Sjöberg regikonst 1930–1957 , Gidlund, 1988.

Esposito, Vincenzo, Alf Sjöberg: un maestro del cinema svedese , Rome, 1998.


Articles:

Variety (New York), 16 May 1951.

Cinématographe Français (Paris), 28 July 1951.

Cahiers du Cinéma (Paris), July-August 1951.

Sight and Sound (London), Autumn 1951.

Monthly Film Bulletin (London), no. 216, 1952.

Sight and Sound (London), January-March 1952.

Films in Review (New York), May 1952.

Variety (New York), 4 September 1952.

De La Roche, Catherine, "Swedish Films," in Films in Review (New York), November 1953.

Morrisett, "The Swedish Paradox," in Sight and Sound (London), Autumn 1961.

Cinema Nuovo (Turin), August 1965.

Coiner, M., "Myth, Style and Strindberg in Sjöberg's Miss Julie ," in Literature/Film Quarterly (Salisbury, Maryland), no. 1, 1991.

Bjorkin, M., " Fröken Julies rakkniv," in Filmhäftet (Stockholm), vol. 23, no. 1/2, 1995.


* * *


In Miss Julie , there is a prolific use of "flashbacks," one flash forward and two dream sequences, all of which serve to articulate the opposing but also disintegrating class values of Miss Julie, who represents the feudal aristocracy, and of her father's valet, Jean, who is of lower class, servant background. The difference in director Alf Sjöberg's use of the flashback device in Miss Julie from its standard employment in strictly conventional, (i.e. "Hollywood") films, is that there is not the usual cinematic punctuation demarcating exactly when the narrative is speaking about the present and when it is referring to the past.

In the play, the past is evoked through the use of dialogue, which characteristically involves an exchange among two or more people seeking mutual understanding. However, the key to the success of dialogue, insofar as its communicative status is predicated upon the arrival of this understanding, is one of intentionality. The speakers must be able to make one another recognize the meaning intended in what they are trying to express. In Miss Julie the dialogue—as a means of describing for example, the conflicts Miss Julie harbors about morality, class distinction, and sexual roles—has been translated cinematically into the flashback. That the flashbacks in the film are not marked off in the traditional manner indicates that they are not to be understood in the usual sense—not as simply retrogressive delineations of time. Instead they are intended by the filmmaker to illustrate, in formal terms, the indecisive and confused nature of Miss Julie's conception of herself, of her conception of how others see her, and of what she should do or be in the world.

The rules of verbal communication must be followed by the speakers involved. If they are not, of course, an incorrect meaning or set of meanings will be derived from the exchange. Specifically, flashbacks in Miss Julie are constructed so that there is no spatial and thus temporal differentiation made between the people, objects and places of the present and those of the past. Miss Julie's mother, who is

Fröken Julie
Fröken Julie
dead in the present time of her daughter's affair with Jean, walks into the "frame" of this time from the midst of one from the past. The camera moves with her across these two temporal dimensions passing on its way people of the present who are speaking about her in the past. This overlapping occurs as a rule of the flashback structure in the film. Its meaningful effect is one of instability, of alternating balances and contrasts of moods. The viewer understands ultimately that Miss Julie will remain an illusionary and impenetrable fiction.

To further create a sense of the basic unreality and illusion of imagination in the diegesis, landscapes, objects, and the natural elements (wind, etc.) are not represented or portrayed as things existing merely in themselves. Rather, Sjöberg manipulates them in such a way that they take on a symbolic life of their own. They become anthropomorphized conveyors of the character's emotions as well as expressive means of the larger and more pervasive moods of the film. This anthropomorphization process, which affords significance to objects usually represented statically, as devoid of meaning, does not in the overall perception of the film simply consign the narrative and its means of presentation to the realm of the melodramatic.

—Sandra L. Beck

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