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The precariousness of Jewish visibility: Surviving antisemitism in Swedish cinema

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The article examines Jewish ‘self-images’ in Swedish post-war film. Before World War II, antisemitic caricatures were prevalent in Swedish film and visual culture. Following the Holocaust, Jews as such were virtually erased from Swedish screens. Written by and starring Marie-Louise Ekman, Hallo Baby (Bergenstr√•hle 1976) was a rare exception, the first Swedish post-war film to explore Swedish-Jewish identity. The 2002 comedy Livet i 8 bitar (Bit by Bit) (Metzger) remains the last of only a handful of films to fit said description. Significantly, both films draw heavily on established antisemitic tropes in their figurations of ‘Jewishness’. Through historically contextualized readings of the two films, including their reception, the article thus shows how the tradition of antisemitic caricature that prevailed until World War II has continued to condition Jewish self-representation in the post-war era.

Keywords: Hallo Baby; Jewish Renaissance; Jewish self-images; Livet i 8 bitar; Swedish film; antisemitic caricatures; post-war antisemitism

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 0000000419369377Stockholm University

Publication date: March 1, 2022

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  • The Journal of Scandinavian Cinema is a new scholarly journal devoted to film in the Scandinavian countries. It aims to become the prime site for excellent research and engaging discussions on cinema in Scandinavia, both within the national context of Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden, and as a region existing in a globalized world.
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