Kjell Gredes Hugo och Josefin: Ett barnkulturellt uttryck i samtiden och en barnfilm för framtiden
Title: Kjell Grede’s Hugo and Josephine. An Expression of Children’s Culture of Its Time and a Children’s Film of Tomorrow
The debut feature film of director Kjell Grede, Hugo and Josephine (1967), is an adaptation of Maria Gripe’s literary trilogy and is often referred to as the best Swedish children’s film ever made. Upon its premiere, the film was very well received by the critics, but some also claimed that it wasn’t suitable for children. This article uses this ambivalence towards Hugo and Josephine as its starting point and demonstrates, via adaptation studies, film studies and childhood studies, how the film transgresses children’s film conventions.
For example, my analysis of the film form reveals that Hugo and Josephine is a story largely taking place inside the protagonist. Therefore, it should not be seen as a realistic depiction of a series of events, but rather as a formation of a child’s apprehension of the same events. This filmic mode, which I term “a child’s realism”, can be interpreted through the liminal spacetime as well as hyperbolic and phantasmic occurrences. Also, the film thematises childhood as a social construction by presenting different ways of being a child and an adult respectively.
In this way, Hugo and Josephine transgresses the children’s film conventions of the time and, concurrently, puts into question the boundaries between childhood and adulthood as well as the rigid division between fine arts for children and adults respectively. These social and artistic issues were highly topical towards the end of the 1960’s, and therefore Grede’s film is characteristic for its time. But simultaneously, it forebodes the artistically and thematically seminal Swedish films and TV series for children of the 1970’s.
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