Sweden’s first screening of moving images took place in Malmö in June 1896, and the country’s earliest film shows were sponsored by religious organizations. Early actualities include a 1898 film of King Oscar II opening the General Art and Industry Exhibition in Stockholm and the fiction film Slagsmål i gamla Stockholm/Drunken Brawl in Old Stockholm (1897). 1907 saw the founding of the studio Svenska Biografteatern, specializing in quality productions; in later years it took over a number of competing companies and in 1919 became Svensk Filmindustri (SF), with interests in distribution and exhibition as well as in production: SF remains the industry leader. Sweden’s neutrality in World War I proved favourable for the domestic film industry, and the years between 1914 and 1921—a period notable for rural melodramas, remakes of Danish erotic melodramas (see Denmark, film in), and adaptations of literary works (Tösen från Stormyrtorpet/The Girl from the Marsh Croft (Victor Sjöström, 1917))—are regarded as a golden age in early Swedish cinema. In the 1920s there followed key works by such prominent directors as Sjöström (Körkarlen/The Phantom Carriage (1921)) and Mauritz Stiller (Gösta Berlings saga/The Atonement of Gösta Berling (1924)). After a locally-made sound-on-disc film, Säg det i toner/The Dream Waltz (Edvin Adolphson and Julius Jaenzon, 1929), proved a box-office success, the US company Paramount, in a bid to capture the lively Swedish market, started making Swedish-language films at its Paris (Joinville) studio. In the 1930s, when Sweden was moving through a period of rapid modernization and traditional values were competing with utopian visions of a future Folkhem (people’s home, or welfare state), uncertainties about the future figure in themes and motifs of ethnocentric or nationalistic films such as Gustaf Edgren’s Valborgsmässoafton/Walpurgis Night (1936). ...
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