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MAI ZETTERLING

Sweden

Born: Vateras, Sweden, 24 May 1925.
Died: London, England, 17 March 1994.


Mai Zetterling (JPG, 7 KB)

Swedish actress and director, who made much of her career in the UK. Mai Zetterling secured her first part at the age of sixteen and won international attention for her role (which she always considered her best) as the prostitute in Hets / Frenzy / Torment (1944), directed by Alf Sjöberg. In the late 1940s the film company Rank brought her to the UK, where she did most of her work as an actress in film, television and theatre for the next decade (an exception was her casting in Ingmar Bergman's Musik i mörker / Night is My Future, 1948). Disillusioned with acting, in the 1960s Zetterling made documentaries for the BBC and an allegorical short called The War Game (1962), which won a prize at Venice. Her first feature as director was Älskande par / Loving Couples (1964), based on the work of Swedish author Agnes von Krusenstjerna. Two years later she filmed her own novel Nattlek / Night Games, with some success and much controversy - the film was banned in Venice for some of its more extreme scenes, just as Älskande par had created a stir at Cannes. In 1986 she returned to von Krusenstjerna and made a film about the author's "scandalous" life and destructive artistic drive, Amorosa (1986), again a controversial work. Her last (British) film, Scrubbers (1982), was a disturbing (though to some overly melodramatic) look at the grim life of young women in a borstal. Zetterling the actress, with her blonde hair and clear blue eyes, had a graceful femininity, both frail and lively. As a director, she was sharp, tough and socially uncompromising, creating psychologically complex characters often from an overtly feminist point of view.

Bo Florin, Encyclopedia of European Cinema



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