La viande + L'amour
The Mill & the Cross
Poet of the Elephant House
The Autumn Man
Your Mind is Bigger Than all
La favola del pennello/
The Tree Lover
in the land of the cranes/
I think of myself - and the left
Hiding behind the camera
|Hiding Behind the Camera
|Sweden 2004, 76 min, 35 mm, colour, 1:1.85, Dolby SR|
|Director: Carl Johan De Geer|
|Once, when I had a little bit of money I sent for a post-order, bakelite camera. It was in 1950. I was 11 years old. Now, I could start to file everything that was on the verge of disappearing. In the camera, a negative that I was never going to lose was created.|
|Narrator||Carl Johan De Geer|
|Other characters||Pia Johansson, Lil Trulsson, Peter Gustavsson, Dan Sandqvist, Kristina Abelli Elander, Marianne Lindberg De Geer, Gert Johansson, Maria Saveland, Sofia Lindgren|
|Carl Johan De Geer|
|Director of photography||Harry Tuvanen|
|Focus puller||Malin Carlsson|
|Sound/ sound design||Jan Alvermark|
|Sound assistants||Thomas Lindström, Peter Eklund|
|Assistant gaffer||Mattias Högberg|
|Costume/ props||Kristina Abelli Elander|
|Make up/ 1st assistant director||Marianne Lindberg De Geer|
|Music||Sebastian Öberg, Irma Schultz Keller, Giacomo Puccini, Nacio Herb Brown/Arthur Freed|
|Assistant editor||Petra Ahlin|
|Sound mix||Owe Svensson/Studio 24|
|Laboratory coordinators||Rolf Kjerrman, Margaretha Weichel|
|Negative cutter||Susanne Lund|
|Digital colour grading||Christer Eidhagen/Frithiof Film to Video|
|Film colour grading||Sten Lindberg|
Produced by Bokomotiv - De Geer & Olsson AB in co-operation with Nordisk Film- & TV-fond/Eva Færevaag with support from Svenska Filminstitutet/ film commissioner Göran Olsson, Sveriges Television - SVT Fiction/ Daniel Alfredson, Canal+ and YLE - FST/Jenny Westergård
Once, when I had a little bit of money I sent for a post-order, bakelite camera. It was in 1950. I was 11 years old. Now, I could start to file everything that was on the verge of disappearing. In the camera, a negative that I was never going to lose was created. It was a way of freezing reality, of stopping it from changing positions. Cameras became my upbringing, my education, my destination. One could regard this as a way of escaping. Of dreaming among lots and lots of cameras. There’s something about cameras that engenders admiration, I thought in my daydreams. The darkroom became for me, in my youth, the place where I daydreamed.
As a child, I belonged to what you call the upper classes. But this class had no resemblance to the upper classes that I now see depicted in films and TV series. I remember the upper classes of my childhood as eccentric. My relatives could have a chauffeur, a gardener, a cook, kitchen maids, parlour maids and other employees. But they could also go bankrupt, wear threadbare clothes and behave unconventionally, to say the least.
I’ll return to a summer’s day in 1951. My brother was 6, my sister was 10 and I was 12 years old. We lived in a huge apartment in the Östermalm area. It was the rich people’s part of town. But in our home, no one had made up the beds for years, there was dust and dirt everywhere and the dark wool curtains were always drawn.
There was no food. And all the inhabitants were paralyzed by migraines. Mother told us children every day that she was very ill. She’d soon die. We children wished intensely that it’d be true. This gave us a bad conscience. Which we continued to have for the additional almost 50 years that she lived.
If she couldn’t get a verificaton that she suffered from the illnesses that she had decided – with the help of medical books – that she had, then she’d call up the Minister of Social Affairs to try and have the defiant doctors’ licences suspended. Mother thought that there was something good about the illnesses: The royalty of bygone times had had exactly the same ailments.
Her illnesses gave Mother, in a way, a feeling that she had elevated herself above the masses, which she called "the common people". She believed she had the right to pass everyone in a queue. I never want to pass people in queues. I want to be at the back of the line all the time.
When I’ve tried to write a screenplay about these circumstances, the work has been hampered by feelings of sorrow and bitterness. I have postponed this difficult task and just made up stories instead. Actually, I hate tall tales. But that there are yellow flowers that can cure "the horrible feudal curse " – that’s one tall tale that has seemed necessary to me.
As a child, you brood a lot. And then, when you have passed 20, you think that the childish brooding was pure idiocy. You regret all that you have thought and done, and become so busy being grown up.
I wanted to be a bohemian. I wanted to drink red wine in garrets in the Old Town. I made new friends. I was convinced that you didn’t need relatives at all, that the right path was to live amongst like-minded people. I became a young art student. We young ones thought that we were existentialists just because we had read Kafka and wore black clothes. I got married. I became even more existentialist. I got married again.
We moved from one building scheduled for demolition to the next. I loved colours and patterns. I learned the technique of silk screen printing and started to print fabrics.
I printed more and more fabrics and hung them up on the walls. I insisted that violent colours and patterns should hang close to one another, that other pictures could be placed on top of the fabrics in any old fashion.
We were going to create a new world and we were sure that it would come about with our help. I was really hiding behind the camera then. The camera went with me everywhere. I thought that photography was a political act. A way of making a stand. I didn’t realize that a photo can only be valued by the person looking at it. A photo is neutral, it has no built-in power to improve the world. But I thought it did then.
The number of photos just grew and grew; I couldn’t choose one photo that seemed better than the others. Sometimes, I thought that all of the pictures were good. Other days, I thought that all of them were mediocre.
Nostalgia. Taste that word. And then throw it away. To be able to think that there is something good about the passing of time. That feeling you have of being very close to a very important discovery.
Time can make you feel strange. It just keeps rolling on. How far back do our memories go? Are they within us though we have repressed them? Is life like a puzzle with most of the pieces missing? When I was still rather young, a little bit over 40, I published a photo book, Hiding behind the camera, part 1. In order to fix everything, with the help of the camera. But it doesn’t work that way, you know. A phrase is there, at the back of my head, an expression that will enable me to explain, both to myself and to others. In a minute I’ll think of it.
Carl Johan De Geer