ALL THINGS FAIR
Sweden, 1995, 124 minutes, Colour.
Johan Widerberg, Marika Lagerkrantz.
Directed by Bo Widerberg.
All Things Fair is an Oscar-nominated drama from Sweden. It was directed by Bo Widerberg, the director of a number of significant Swedish films, especially Elvira Madigan. The film stars his son Johann Widerberg as a young man in Malmo, in neutral Sweden during World War Two.
The film is a rites of passage story, the young man falls in love with one of his teachers. Her husband is an alcoholic and seemingly consents to her relationship. The film shows the struggle of the young man, his first love and infatuation, the response of the teacher, especially her sense of responsibility towards the young man.
As with all Widerberg's films, the photography is very beautiful, lyrical, even in a World War Two setting.
1. Academy Award nominee? Portrait of Sweden in the '40s? Rite of passage film?
2. The re-creation of period? The school, Malmo and its environment? The war and the soldiers at the school? The submarine and its explosion? The cinemas? Costumes, decor?
3. The director and his use of classical music? The Beethoven? The Handel song and its punctuating the action? The range of musical score?
4. The opening credits: the sex education book by Linnaeus? The focus on male adolescence and puberty? Preparing the audience for the story of Stig? The chapter `on mating'? The title of the film and its references to Stig and to Viola?
5. The theme of adolescence: the boys in the class and their constant preoccupation about sex, the measuring of the penis, the girls and their sexual awakening, the crass misunderstandings, the notes and the conversation? The young girl and her wanting Stig, arranging the situation, the disappointment and humiliation, the later encounter in the athletics horse? The discovery by the girl of Stig with Viola? The learning, the pain, the humiliation? Foundation for future life?
6. The portrait of Stig: his age, from Stockholm, in the country? With the boys in class, the discussions, the notes? His standing up for the Jewish boy in the toilet? His home life, the father and his gruffness (and snoring with the humour of the rubber duck)? His mother and her supportiveness? Sigge and his being away, coming to the cinema, at home, their ability to talk, his wanting to go on the submarine? The boxing bout and his support of his brother? His grief at the news of the sinking of the Wolf? Hiding the information from his mother? Sadness, watching the newsreels so many times, the funeral? His father's drinking in the train from the funeral? Support of his mother?
7. Stig and the attraction to the teacher, watching her? The invitation, the sexual encounter? Its repercussions on him? The filming of the sexual encounters, playing with time, superimpositions? The effect on Stig, his going to the house, avoiding the husband? The nature of his passion? With the teacher in the classroom? The encounter with the husband, his assuming that he was a student? The growing friendship, the listening to the music, the husband explaining the gin in the cuckoo clock? The bond between the two, Frank and his stories and revealing himself to Stig? Going off the drink? His return, his disappointment? Stig and his continued support? Stig and his being discovered and the passivity of the husband? His still supporting the husband? His work at the cinema, selling the chocolates, watching the film? The growing demands of the teacher, in class? The gradual falling out? Stig and his wanting to listen to music, changing? His not realising the repercussions of his passion? The teacher turning on him, the decision to fail him, their confrontations? The headmaster? The tearing out of the marks from the book? His turning over the desk, his anger? The graduation - and his provocation of the teacher? His going to the school and taking the books? His future? The interlude and his relationship with the young girl after the dinner, in the school gymnasium? Her disappointment in him? The effect of these puberty experiences on his future life?
8. The character of Viola: the conventional introduction to the new teacher, her name, the roll-call? Her shrewdness in knowing what the kids were up to? Her attraction towards Stig, keeping him back, flirtatious? His following her? Who initiated the interaction? Her inviting him in, her sexual needs, the growing sexual needs? His visits, her warning him about her husband? The growing dependence on her relationship with him? Her eventually telling her story, her marriage, the suitors, the money? The freedom that Frank offered? The collapse of the marriage? Yet her feeling that she needed to support him? The changing attitude, Stig and his listening to music and her wanting him to turn it down? Her going to the cinema and the episode in the cupboard? The gradual antagonism - yet her still being seductive? The discussion with the headmaster, failing Stig? Her lies and her reasons? The scene at home with the gin pouring over her from the clock? The bitterness of her life? The graduation?
9. The character of Frank, the travelling salesman, the disappointment in marriage, being on the road? Thinking Stig was merely a student? Talking to him about music, explaining the clock? The discovery of the truth? Yet his having no will to confront Stig? The sadness of his story, his marriage? His travelling stock and the discussions about natural fibres and skins contrasted with nylon? The nylon frenzy in the US? His sense of despair?
10. The glimpse of Stig's parents, the supportive mother, the father and the elk, chauffeuring? His angers, especially about the record? His drinking on the train from the funeral?
11. The young girls, their talk about sex, curiosity? The neighbourhood party, the gifts? The young girl going upstairs, locking the door, undressing, Stig and his rejection and her pain? The later scene in the gymnasium? Her discovery of the truth and its effect on her?
12. The people at the cinema, Stig and his job, the atmosphere of the times? His not wanting to do the work? The boss? Looking at the newsreel so many times?
13. The headmaster, not wanting to fail Stig? The news of his brother's death?
14. A human drama? A drama of Sweden? Adolescent males and rites of passage? Older women and their hold on the younger men, turning on them, `fatal attractions'? The resolution of the film and Stig's future?