I Am Curious - Yellow Review

Image for I Am Curious - Yellow

In between conducting interviews with celebrities and ordinary citizens on the state of the world, Lena makes love around Stockholm with her boyfriend, Börje.


Vilgot Sjöman was no stranger to controversy before the release of this notorious study of 1960s attitudes. He had discussed homosexuality, bestiality and rape in 491 before considering incest in the period drama, My Sister, My Love. However, this curious blend of agit-prop and pseudo-porn became a cause célèbre when it was seized by US Customs and Barney Rossett and Grove Press went all the way to the Supreme Court to secure its release, just as they had done with such novels as Henry Miller's Tropic of Cancer and D.H. Lawrence's Lady Chatterly's Lover.

The film went on to earn $15 million and remained the highest-grossing foreign film in the States for the next 25 years. It certainly divided the critics, with the New York Times branding it a `genuinely vile and disgusting Swedish Meatball'. But Sjöman himself preferred to call it `a polemic kaleidoscope. A mixture of reportage, imagination, demagogy. Made from the platform of the dissatisfied left.'  

The inclusion of such serious figures as Martin Luther King, cabinet minister Olaf Palme and the Russian poet Yevgenii Yevtushenko gave the discussions a certain legitimacy. But in seeking people's opinions on everything from the Church and State to Franco and Vietnam and sex and violence, Lena Nyman made such an aggressive interrogator that few provided coherent, let alone intelligent answers. Indeed, we learn more about her than the mindset of the nation, as she comes to embody radicalism, politico-sexual liberation and the potential for change.  

 Sjöman shot 400,000 hours of footage in all and he followed  Yellow with I Am Curious - Blue (1968), with the titles referring to the colours of the Swedish flag. However, the second film was somewhat overshadowed by the fuss caused by its predecessor. Yet, they offer fascinating contrasts when seen together, with the former's search for a father figure and the rejection of a male lover finding echo in the latter's pursuit of a maternal influence and the dismissal of Lena's lesbian friend, Sonja (Sonja Lindgren).

This controversial Swedish picture of 1960's social attitudes is definitely a love/hate affair