Wednesday, 9 March 2011

Looking for the Touch

In 1972 a great Swedish director rejects a film he's made, on the basis that it marks for him, 'the very bottom'. Unlike the vast majority of his films, it is never re-released. Forty years later, I track down said film, downloading what seems to be a VHS copy recorded off Swedish television. The quality is gauzy, almost moth-eaten around the edges of the frame. It tells the story of a Swedish housewife who falls for a Jewish-American archeologist, and who tells her one day, out of the blue at a dinner party, that he fell in love with her the first time he saw her crying.

At one point in the film, before they decide to act on their desires, the archeologist takes the married woman to the site of a dig he's mentioned at the party. Behind a church wall, construction workers have mysteriously found a statue of the Virgin Mary. The couple stare through a small hole in the wall and, cheek to cheek, peer in at the Virgin's face. Shining their flashlight inside, we see this shot:

When the actor who played the archeologist was invited to a film festival in his honour recently, he wanted especially to talk about this film. However, because of its scarcity, its neglect, he had to bring his own personal print for the audience to watch.

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