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also known as Bounds That Chafe | Just Like a Man

Erotikon1920

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  • 3.9
Labeled an "insolent romp" by the Village Voice and praised for its "risqué wit and cheerful amorality" in John Wakeman's "World Film Directors," EROTIKON is quite possibly the cinematic granddaddy of all sophisticated comedies and one of the finest achievements of Swedish director Mauritz Stiller. EROTIKON surely pushed the boundaries of what was acceptable on the screen in 1920: Irene, the bored wife of a distracted entomologist, pursues a womanizing aviator. But she may actually be in love with Preben, her husband's best friend. Meanwhile, her husband seems to be getting unusually close with his own niece. Stiller obviously delights in teasing his audience with each scandalous plot twist and every salacious leer and the result is a deliciously subversive comedy that was very much ahead of its time.

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Member Reviews (5)

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top reviewer

Neither erotic, comical, nor amusing, I can only surmise that this relic has survived the test of time due to its (limited) prurient value. A sexy dance and an aeroplane scene are not sufficient to make this an interesting film. There are much better examples of Scandinavian silent cinema! For Instance: THE PHANTOM CARRIAGE, HAXAN, and others. This film is a bore, but the 2006 score added for the film is quite good.

1 member likes this review

Though critically acclaimed, this 1920 film is interesting only from a historical perspective. It was directed notably by the great Swedish director Mauritz Stiller (he was actually a Jew from Finland), who had already directed dozens of films and was a master of his craft. Although he was yet to create his masterpiece The Saga of Gosta Berling, he would only direct a handful of films before his failed residency in Hollywood and premature death in 1928. Also worthy of mention is the film’s male lead, a premiere Swedish actor, Lars Hanson, who would famously star several times with Stiller’s great discovery Greta Garbo. Erotikon, though, scarcely lives up to its salacious title. It may have been somewhat daring in 1920, but today it is less apt to raise eyebrows than to close eyelids. There must have been a hundred silent features that would deal more compellingly with the theme of the errant wife and the dull husband. While there is no question Stiller has grasped the art of motion picture making -- the acting and camerawork and editing are polished and some of the title cards are witty, artistically the film is a disappointment. Even for one accustomed to the conventions of silent films, it is painfully slow and devoid of arresting incident. Only the unconventional ending (which I won’t divulge) somewhat saves it. And the nicely restored Kino version unhappily features a musical score which does little to arise audience interest or connection to the plot. Its atrocious fiddle-scraping may be apt for the contemplation of suicide, but after a half hour or so its annoying discordance becomes unbearable and anyone of auditory sensibilities will soon be reduced to viewing this feature in grateful silence.

1 member likes this review
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top reviewer

Mauritz Stiller's Erotikon (1920) is rather brazen and salacious for a 1920 film. The staid Victorian morals went out the window with this one. This film has no explicit sexuality, but is very suggestive. It's a well thought out, and well executed film, with an interesting, and engaging storyline. There's no "meaning", or any "symbolism" in this film, just good, entertaining storytelling done in a believable manner. For 1920, however, this must have been a controversial film.

Mildly amusing, especially its title cards, but the film overall is plodding in its comic efforts; nonetheless, has great style worth a peek; a bit muddled in its romantic convolutions (and falls far short of sexy); sly performance by Karin Molander; featuring the very handsome Lars Hanson, who does a fair amount of pensive yearning. He would go on to play opposite Lillian Gish in THE SCARLET LETTER and THE WIND.

A very good movie. l love the happy ending ;)