Cinema arrived in Sweden at the end of the 19th century, with the first screening in Malmö in 1896. Ernest Florman (1862-1952), a Stockholm photographer, is considered the first filmmaker in Swedish history with The Arrival of the King of Siam in Stockholm, a short sequence filmed on 13 July 1897. The producer Charles Magnusson, and the directors Victor Sjostrom and Mauritz Stiller - the man who discovered the divine Garbo - launched Swedish silent cinema, through the company Svensk Biograph, created in 1907. Sjostrom's fantasy drama The Phantom Carriage (1921) is a fine example of this golden age.
Ingmar Bergman, the Swedish master
Born in Uppsala in 1918, the filmmaker and theatre director is without question THE monument of Swedish national cinema. At the age of 10, he discovered his vocation thanks to a magic lantern, a process for projecting animated images developed in the 17th century and commonly used as a toy in the 19th century, with which he was already directing stories of his own invention. He subsequently had a prolific career, with no less than forty works to his credit, including The Seventh Seal (1957), On the Threshold of Life (1958), Persona (1966), Cries and Whispers (1972), Scenes from Married Life (1973), and Fanny and Alexander (1982). His filmography is marked by several themes, such as the meaning of life, good and evil, God, the incommunicability of the couple... Marked by his conflicting relationship with his parents, he tirelessly draws inspiration from his childhood memories. In 2002, Bergman donated his archives to the Swedish Film Institute. This collection of documents is managed by the Foundation that bears his name
Without denying the genius of the master Bergman, a new generation of filmmakers wants to turn the page on classical cinema and impose itself through a certain technical creativity. Bo Widerberg was part of this revival. A writer turned filmmaker, he wrote novels and short stories in the 1950s, including The Green Dragon, which he made into a film in 1966. His early works were realist in inspiration, while his later films such as Ådalen 31 (1963), Joe Hill (1971) and Elvira Madigan (1967) adopted a more lyrical tone
Another figure of the 1960s, director Jan Troell began his career as a cinematographer on Widerberg's films. In his major work Utvandrarna (1971) (The Emigrants) and its sequel Nybyggarna (1972) (The New Land), he follows the journey of a poor family from Småland to Minnesota in the mid-19th century.
The generation of filmmakers born in the 1970s stages a critique of Swedish society, between the tragic and the comic, which is sometimes divisive. Josef Fares is known for his comedy Jalla! Jalla!(2000). A box office and critical success, it tells the story of Roro, played by his brother, the Lebanese-Swedish actor Fares Fares, who is plagued by self-doubt when his white Swedish girlfriend asks to meet his in-laws.
Ruben Östlund has made a name for himself with his cruel yet tender look at the Swedes. Happy Sweden (2008), Snow Therapy (2014) and The Square(2017) (Palme d'Or at Cannes) unravel the mores and preconceived notions of white, bourgeois circles. Malik Bendjelloul is interested in music and has made several films about Elton John, Rod Stewart, Björk and Kraftwerk. He received the Oscar for best documentary in 2013 for Searching for Sugar Man, which retraced the atypical career of the American singer Rodriguez.
Swedish series are numerous and have a good reputation abroad. The Millennium crime trilogy by writer Stieg Larsson, adapted in Sweden from 2009 by Niels Arden Oplev and Daniel Alfredson with actors Michael Nyqvist and Noomi Rapace, and then in the United States from 2011 by David Fincher with Daniel Craig and Rooney Mara, was a hit in the cinema, so much so that a 6-episode television series was released in 2010, broadcast by Canal+, with the same duo of Swedish actors.
Let's also mention Real Humans (2012) by Lars Lundström, which has become a classic series about humanoid robots, exported to more than 50 countries. But there are still The Bridge (aired between 2011 and 2018), Polar Day (2016), Svartsjön (2016), or Jordskott, the forest of the missing (2015). On Netflix, the series Love and Anarchy (2020) and Kalifat (2020) are notably filmed in Stockholm.
Some actors and actresses
Since the beginning of the 20th century, actors and actresses from Sweden have made a name for themselves in world cinema. Propelled to the rank of Hollywood icon by the American producer Louis B. Mayer, Greta Garbo got her first important role in 1924 in the film La Vida. Mayer, Greta Garbo got her first major role in 1924 in the film The Saga of Gösta Berling, based on the novel by Selma Lagerlöf. Her major roles include Queen Christine, Grand Hotel, The Lady of the Camellias and Ninotchka.
The actress Ingrid Bergman had international success with three films by Alfred Hitchcock: The House of the Doctor (1945) Edwardes, The Chained (1946) and The Lovers of Capricorn (1949). She made Stromboli (1950), by the Italian Roberto Rossellini, for whom she left her husband. Her autobiography, My Life,recounts her memoirs.
The actor Max von Sydow, after his performance in Bergman's The Seventh Seal , became one of her favourite actors. He also appeared in Bille August's Pelle the Conqueror and William Friedkin's The Exorcist, among others.
The Skarsgård family has had a successful career in contemporary cinema, and is made up, among others, of the father, Stellan, Lars Von Trier's favourite actor, with whom he played in Dogville, Nymphomaniac, Breaking the Waves, and the son, Alexander, who has been very popular since he played Eric Northman in the True Blood series, but also Tarzan for David Yates, and who also played for Lars Von Trier in Melancholia.Alicia Vikander is a rising figure in contemporary cinema. She notably won the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress for the film The Danish Girl (2015) and continues her career with two action films: Jason Bourne in 2016, by Paul Greengrass, with Matt Damon, and Tomb Raider in 2018.