A group of Swedish actresses prepare to stage Aristophanes' play Lysistrata. While rehearsing their lines the women begin to question their lives, what has become of them. What they discover angers them!
An outspoken feminist Swedish director Mai Zeterling was often a controversial figure whose work created just as many passionate followers as it created haters. The director's Flickorna a.k.a The Girls (1968) is an unusual attempt to link ancient themes gravitating around the inability of the two sexes to coexist in harmony to modern philosophies about female liberation.
The message of this film will likely anger those whose tolerance for radical feminism isn't at all time high. The hidden parallels between a classist Greek society and a "modern" world where women are still mistreated are obvious. In Flickorna the main protagonists are outraged because through Aristophanes' play Lysistrata they see history repeating itself.
The mild tone of Flickorna is intentionally deceiving. It seems like the comic elements Mai Zeterling has planted right next to the bitter revelations about a seriously damaged social ordinance have a special meaning. They symbolize the indifference reigning amongst those who should be ashamed. As a result Flickorna invites its audiences to read carefully between the lines where reality and fiction are closely intertwined.
What truly gets the blood boiling here is a mass striptease scene during which women abandon decency in favor of liberation (a smart pretext for redirecting the audience's attention to men's inability to control sexual desire). Unexpected but not shocking the act is certainly not as provocative as many critics claim it is. If anything it is a well-executed form of protest.
While the social message Flickorna brings may prove too tedious for some Mai Zeterling's visual style ought to satisfy most if not all. The rich camerawork together with the original settings provide this Swedish film with the needed charm to keep average filmgoers intrigued. The comedy, satire, and angry feminist statements are carefully blended into an intriguing cinematic work where style and substance coexist.
Finally I have a feeling that some male viewers may be slightly turned off by Mai Zeterling's radical stance. You shouldn't be! There is a positive message here and much to learn from a play which may not be so outdated after all.
How Does the DVD Look?
Presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.66:1 and enhanced for widescreen TV's the DVD looks mighty impressive. A quick glance at the back cover explains why: this New Yorker distributed disc is part of the ongoing collaboration between the NY-based label and Project X. This being said the disc boasts a properly converted progressive transfer with excellent black-white gradation, lovely contrast, and very little in the way of edge-enhancement that one should be concerned with. Detail is indeed excellent as blown through a digital projector the image remains solid. The actual print appears to be in an immaculate condition without any damage or dust noticeable throughout the film. My only complaint here is a very minor shimmering visible during the opening 3-4 minutes. Aside from that I am very, very happy with the overall presentation.
How Does the DVD Sound?
Presented with its original Swedish DD 2.0 track and optional French and English subtitles the audio is just as impressive as the video presentation: crystal clean and easy to follow throughout the film. I did not detect any hissing(s) or disturbing pop-ups.
In addition to a generic "Filmographies" section highlighting the work of Bibi Anderson, Harriet Andersson, and Gunnel Lindblom, Project X have provided lovely 73-minute film homage to Mai Zeterling titled "Lines From The Heart" (1996) that re-unites the girls from The Girls. This is an excellent supplemental piece that sheds plenty of light on the Swedish director, the film's history, the evens surrounding its release, and finally its reception.
Outstanding film!! Loved every single minute of it!! There is much here that Swedish cinema became known for during the years. On top of everything else this DVD is an absolute keeper. For once I wish that Project X simply took over New Yorker and put an end on all those dreaded PAL-ports we keep talking about each week. Fabulous DVD, get it!!