The Pram (Barnvagnen) (Bo Widerberg, 1963)

Discuss films and filmmakers of the 20th century (and even a little of the 19th century). Threads may contain spoilers.
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colinr0380
Joined: Mon Nov 08, 2004 4:30 pm
Location: Chapel-en-le-Frith, Derbyshire, UK

The Pram (Barnvagnen) (Bo Widerberg, 1963)

#1 Post by colinr0380 » Sun May 31, 2015 8:57 am

Spoilers:

This is an excellent working class teen pregnancy, single mother drama in which our heroine who works at a factory and lives with her parents and young brother gets involved with a rather preening young pop singer and gets pregnant.

Where the film gets really interesting is that she then struggles with the conventions at the time of having to immediately get married so as to protect her and her child's reputation. After a few scenes of this being shown to be completely impossible (the singer prefers his screaming groupies and his international tours and is grumpily feeling coerced into the marriage) she courageously breaks out on her own, not just from her reluctant fiance but also from her parents and her family home (after taking the family's enormous chandelier as a memento!) and her factory job to become a shopgirl. She then meets an intellectual chap who she had previously run into before the pop singer and they start a tentative relationship, though this itself is doomed to failure.

I love this film and especially Inger Taube's performance as the main character Britt. The character is wonderfully determined and practical and isn't just looking for a man, any man, to keep her but wants to live her own life. Britt is often matter of fact about her situation (I love her "Well, that's me. I'm pregnant" scene with a co-worker at the factory about morning sickness, which itself climaxes in another wonderful low key moment of another co-worker who has overheard gently offering the number of an abortionist if she wishes) and it is the men in her life who end up providing the melodrama.

Both the male characters get a freeze frame moment at their breaking points, at which point the film zooms in and we get a scene from their past that provides the context for how they are about to act (spoiler: its mommy issues). But even that context does not mitigate their actions towards Britt, who eventually rejects either of them as not being good enough. There are some heartbreaking moments of Britt lovingly preparing an evening meal, only for it to be ruined. She is not opposed to a caring relationship with either of the men in her life, but practically speaking the only person that Britt can rely on is herself. I love the birth scene which instead of showing anything has the sounds of Britt giving birth and the midwife overlaid over a shot of twilight shadows moving across an expanse of grass.

I also love the musical metaphor used in the film. The pop singer unsurprisingly likes rhythm and the beat (though he's a terrible singer and composer from what we get to hear!) comparing its life to the dead classical music on the car radio. The intellectual loves appreciating classical music, but it isn't that lively! Britt herself is the soundtrack of the film: jazzy, free flowing and adaptable to new forms. There's no easy conclusion to the relationships in this film and the potential social stigma which the ending emphasises (Britt pushing her pram down the street, getting dazzled by the sun reflecting off opening windows in an office tower block), but I somehow have confidence in her strength to come through whatever is being thrown at her.

This is a film that desperately, desperately needs a revival!
Last edited by colinr0380 on Sun May 31, 2015 3:22 pm, edited 1 time in total.

kekid
Joined: Tue Nov 02, 2004 9:55 pm

Re: The Pram (Barnvagnen) (Bo Widerberg, 1963)

#2 Post by kekid » Sun May 31, 2015 1:10 pm

I recall reading that some company (Olive?) was planning to issue several Bo Widerberg movies on Blu Ray. That was several years ago. What happened to it, and who has the rights to his films?

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repeat
Joined: Wed Jun 24, 2009 4:04 am
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Re: The Pram (Barnvagnen) (Bo Widerberg, 1963)

#3 Post by repeat » Mon Jun 01, 2015 6:08 am

Indeed Olive Films, but I don't think they've confirmed those would be on Blu-ray (or indeed that they are any longer planning to release them at all). Barnvagnen is not among those titles, but it is available on DVD (apart from the Swedish box set) from the French label Malavida, and fansubs are available.

There's another extremely interesting Swedish Widerberg box in the works, with Joe Hill and later films, rare shorts, TV works and a documentary portrait of Widerberg by the incomparable Stefan Jarl. Wouldn't bet on English subs for this one though.

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repeat
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Re: The Pram (Barnvagnen) (Bo Widerberg, 1963)

#4 Post by repeat » Sun Aug 09, 2015 6:22 am

The above-mentioned new Widerberg box is available for pre-order and does include English subs for all the features at least (here is a PDF with specs for all the individual films).

charal
Joined: Fri Aug 08, 2008 6:36 pm
Location: ADELAIDE, AUSTRALIA

Re: The Pram (Barnvagnen) (Bo Widerberg, 1963)

#5 Post by charal » Mon Aug 10, 2015 7:46 am

Someone has put 4 Widerberg films on YouTube with English subtitles if you want to retrospect. The films are: THE PRAM, RAVENS END, KARLAK 65 and JOE HILL.

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