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Movies and Film

Scandinavian Film History

Tucked into the remote northern reaches of Europe, the nations that make up Scandinavia might not seem the most obvious places to look for cinematic splendor. Indeed, the region's films have often been rather quiet, understated, but consistently elegant contributions to the art form. In this chapter, we'll be giving you a thumbnail sketch of the Norwegian, Swedish, and Danish film industries—at the expense of their Icelandic and Finnish counterparts, we're afraid. The first feature-length film made by Icelandic directors was Gudmundur Kamban and Gunnar Robert Hansen's collaboration, Hadda Padda (1923), a thriller that concludes with a startling and beautifully shot cliff-hanger (literally!). Finland's film history also contains a few real gems (check out Aki Kaurismäki's Shadows in Paradise [1986] and Drifting Clouds [1996]).

Scandinavia has produced some of the most revered directors and films of all time. This necessarily brief tour of the region's silver screens won't teach you everything you need to know. What it will do, though, is introduce you to a treasure trove of motion pictures that you'd do very well to dig through more thoroughly on your own. From Olsen to Bergman and beyond, Scandinavian film is a visual feast that continues to appeal to audiences far beyond its modest borders.

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Excerpted from The Complete Idiot's Guide to Movies and Film © 2001 by Mark Winokur and Bruce Holsinger. All rights reserved including the right of reproduction in whole or in part in any form. Used by arrangement with Alpha Books, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

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