Skip to content

Plot: nymphomaniac explores the sordid underbelly of Stockholm

Anita Swedish Nymphet was one of the last directorial efforts from Swedish screenwriter Torgny Wickman. Wickman is mostly remembered for Ur Kärlekens Språk (1970), released internationally as The Language Of Love, that sparked massive protests in London upon release. Skräcken har 1000 ögon (1970), released internationally as Fear Has A 1,000 Eyes, allegedly was the first Scandinavian erotic horror movie of note. Anita - Ur En Tonårsflickas Dagbok (released internationally as Anita Swedish Nymphet, as it will be referred to hereafter) wasn’t Wickman’s first foray into sexploitation. It is, for all intents and purposes, a reimagining of his earlier Eva - den utstötta (1969), with Christina Lindberg replacing Solveig Andersson, and one of the early roles for Stellan Skarsgård.

During high school Christina Lindberg started modeling, first in bathing suit in local newspapers and later for nude pictorials with Mayfair, Lui and Playboy. She was a Penthouse Pet in 1970. In 1973 she released her photo book This Is Christina Lindberg by her photographer and soon-to-be husband Bo Sehlberg. Sehlberg refused to let her work with other photographers and forced Lindberg out of exploitation cinema. For much of the 1970s Gothenburg-born starlet Christina Lindberg was the subject of a number of mostly impoverished exploitation films awash with full frontal nudity and simulated sex. Together with Janet Ågren, and the lesser known Leena Skoog, Christina Lindberg was one of the more recognizable faces in the Scandinavian exploitation industry. A few exceptions notwithstanding Lindberg's filmography is about as nihilistic as it is depressing.

Christina debuted in the naturalistic and very matter-of-fact comedy Rötmånad (1970) (or Dog Days internationally). It was good-natured and amiable despite its nasty Darwinian streak. Things got considerably darker with Exponerad (released in the US as The Depraved) and Maid In Sweden (1971). The latter mostly resembles Anita Swedish Nymphet and the former was remade in Italy three years later as The Minor (1974) with Gloria Guida. 1973 was a career-defining year for Lindberg as she starred in both this, and the infamous rape revenge caper Thriller – En Grym Film. Thriller – En Grym Film (1973) contained hardcore porn inserts, and even an actual corpse. It sort of was a Swedish remake of Turkish revenge drama Golden Girl (1973) with Filiz Akin. As an exercise in nihilism it easily matches, if not surpasses, Niko Mastorakis’ Island Of Death (1976) and Meir Zarchi’s I Spit On Your Grave (1978) in its commitment to shock and offend as much of its viewership as possible in little under two hours.

Anita (Christina Lindberg) is a 16-year-old student and left to fend for her own in a cold, uncaring society that has written her off before she was able to make something of herself. Anita has a problem. She's a nymphomaniac, a concubine of despise. Her classmates shun her, her parents consider her a lost cause and have cut her off. When not even her family cares for her plight, no wonder then that every lowlife and degenerate in Stockholm tries to take advantage of her when the possibility arises. The only that actually goes out of their way to make Anita feel comfortable is psychology student Erik (Stellan Skarsgård). She comes knocking on Erik's door all battered, bruised, and broken. Black-eyed and with blood seeping from her lip. As they mutually engage in household chores in and around Erik’s studio apartment he takes the time to let Anita tell her story.

She has sollicited men at the local pub, the train station, the library, the art club, and in the streets. How she ended up falling in with Stockholm’s least desirable, leading to her arrest during a drugbust. In her darkest hour she threw herself at closeted lesbian social worker Agnes (Berit Agedal, as Berit Agerdal), and to make ends meet worked in a burlesque cabaret. From all this Erik concludes that Anita's rampant nymphomania must be the product from some unprocessed childhood trauma and/or neglect. Anita confides in Erik that he's one of the few to be friendly to her despite her vulnerable emotional/psychological state, and the only to never take advantage of her condition. Not even when she threw herself at him. Erik on his part figures that it's not sex what Anita has been seeking all this time, but love and human connection. The way he sees it the only way for Anita to be cured is to experience a real orgasm while being with a man that truly loves her. The morning after experiencing love (and not sex) for the first time Anita returns home to find that her parents have changed the door locks...

Whereas British, Italian, and German sex comedy starlets would typically alternate between light fare and more cynical outings, the deeper Christina Lindberg got into her career the bleaker and unpleasant her projects became. The advent and legalization of hardcore pornography in 1979 instantly made redundant the entire softcore genre and nudity-heavy variants of both comedy and horror. The increasing demand for actresses to do hardcore led to several (Paola Senatore, Lilli Carati, Ilona Staller, and Brigitte Lahaie, to name three Italian and one French example) changing careers. Stockholm never had its own regional variant of Madrid, Spain's Cine-S, the pornochanchada from São Paulo, Brazil, or the maple syrup porn from Québec, Canada. Sweden (and Finland too, for that matter) had always been very liberated compared to the rest of Europe - and thus a regular soft erotica industry made no sense. It's sad that the first victim of that was Christina Lindberg, one of Sweden's greatest sex symbols up until that point.

As unbelievable as it may sound today international English-language distributors had the gall to cut the promotional trailer in such a way to make Anita Swedish Nymphet look as an innocuous coming of age drama as Faustine and the Beautiful Summer (1972) or a general audience goofy sex comedy as Herzblatt oder Wie sag' ich's meiner Tochter? (1969). It presented itself as an exposé of something that happens to "every girl" when she reaches "a certain age." As exploitative as the Schoolgirl Report (1970) series were they never were as intentionally nasty and bleak as the average Christina Lindberg romp. Maid In Sweden (1971) pretty much suggested what Lindberg's early career was going to consist of. Christina, 23 at the time, is seldom seen smiling, always on the verge of crying - and it doesn't help one bit that every other movie she did tried to outdo the last in terms of wanton cruelty and nihilism. In that sense it's a sobering realization that Rötmånad (1970) was Christina Lindberg's finest hour, and that it was only and invariably downwards from that point going forward. While the tricks it plays may be underhanded and deplorable at least it delivers exactly what it promises.

Plot: the raunchy Schulmädchen are here. Hilarity ensues!

In the late sixties something interesting happened in German comedy. Franz Josef Gottlieb released his faux-documentary The Miracle Of Love (1968) wherein the sexual fantasies of a supposedly-but-not-really married couple were explored in pseudo-scientific manner through a number of tantalizing vignettes. Its companion piece The Ideal Marriage (1970) is lousy in comparison and Hermann Schnell’s Anatomy of an Orgasm (1970) actually goes out of its way to be scientific and supposedly educational. A trait that all three share is that they were white-coat erotica, a particular strain of sexploitation that filled grindhouses before the advent of hardcore pornography. White-coat erotica in turn gave rise to the much more popular and widely known Report-films, a series of pseudo-documentaries chronicling the sex life of whatever their subject happened to be (schoolgirls, housewives, nurses, et al.) The Report films were a lewd spin on educational films (Aufklärungsfilme) since television was still a fairly novel concept. They were a decade-long, mostly German phenomenon that happened parallell with the raunchy Tiroler sex comedy getting more bawdy as sexual mores became more liberated and permissive in the late sixties and early seventies. From 1975 onward the Schoolgirl Report series took a dip as sex cinemas became popular but would continue to exist into the early 1980s until they no longer were deemed profitable.

Schulmädchen-Report: Was Eltern nicht für möglich halten (or Schoolgirl Report: What Parents Don't Think Is Possible) was the original and is historically important for exactly that reason. It’s now almost a relic from a much more innocent time. Loosely based on the non-fictional Schulmädchen-Report by sexologist Günther Hunold the Schoolgirl Report from Ernst Hofbauer professes to take a scientific look at the sexual lives of girl students. Schoolgirl Report was something of a gathering of West Germany’s comedic talent. Not only is Ernst Hofbauer directing, Walter Boos was in the editing suite and co-directed. Producing was none other than Wolf C. Hartwig. On their own each man carved out a place in German comedy and their bundling of forces could only result in something that would revolutionize the German comedy for years to come. The timing couldn’t have been better too. In 1968 French existentialist Simone de Beauvoir released her two-volume treatise The Second Sex concerning the treatment of women through out history. The tomes are considered a major work of feminist philosophy and the starting point of second-wave feminism. The Italian mondo documentaries were in full swing. At the same time the sexual revolution swept over the United States and the wider world. Conservative sexual mores, once sanctified, became archaic relics of yore, as permissiveness became the norm. Across the world people were looking for a more egalitarian society and the dominant ethos was that of varied and flexible gender roles for women. What better time than now to capitalize on the sexual escapades of those wicked and wild schulmädchen?

A delegation of eminent figures in the fields of psychology, sociology and science are called upon by concerned parents and faculty members alike when a schulmädchen is discovered in the throes of passion with the busdriver on a schooltrip. As parents and educators are mystified what to do with the situation, and whether or not to expel the girl for her transgressions, the school dean (Wolf Harnisch) is more than willing to hear the informed opinions of the scientific community, among them sociologist Dr. Vogt (Helga Kruck), as well as respected local municipal gatekeepers. Even the girl’s psychologist Dr. Bernauer (Günther Kieslich) is allowed to defend the girl’s case. The panel is moderated by a reporter (Friedrich von Thun) shooting a documentary about the case. Intercut are candid “on the street” interviews with people across age brackets and demographics and confessional vignettes following a dozen or so Püppchen as they go about their lives and talk about their sexual fantasies or – misadventures Schoolgirl Report tries its darnedest to be a serious dissertation of what it considers an alarming new trend among the German youth, the practice of free love. The libertine and promiscuous lifestyle of their daughters has their repressed and conservative parents in a state of disbelief and shock. Erwin C. Hartwig and Ernst Hoffbauer had their finger at the pulse of youth counterculture when the sexual revolution of the late sixties swept Europe. Once controversial and incendiary 50 years later Schoolgirl Report is incredibly tame by any standard. That half of the interviews were faked only adds to the exploitation authenticity. Unbelievably well over 6 million people went to see Schoolgirl Report im kino. Schoolgirl Report caused a stir in the old Bundesrepublik and made Hartwig a millionaire.

There are no big stars in the first Schoolgirl Report. Only Jutta Speidel could be nominally considered the name-star as she was a regular in Germany comedy. It wouldn’t be until the sequels before domestic – and international starlets as Claudia Fielers, Christina Lindberg, Ingrid Steeger, Shirley Corrigan, Katja Bienert, Uschi Karnat, and Karine Gambier made their debut in the series. As these things tend to go there were regulars among the schulmädchen with the likes of Karin Götz, Ulrike Butz, Puppa Armbruster, and Christine Szenetra returning for many later episodes. The first few Schoolgirl Report movies also tried to maintain a veneer of respectability and hid behind pseudo-science to validate their existence. Later installments became increasingly wild and concerned themselves less with a semi-realistic depiction of youth sexuality.

If anything the Schoolgirl Report series was a spiritual precursor to the Girls Gone Wild brand (1997-2013) and roughly had the same objective. That’s to say, exposing nubile young women in flagrante delicto and preferably with not much in the way of clothes. In its native Germany (well, West Germany, to be exact) Schoolgirl Report was a box office smash that ended up inspiring not only 12 official sequels (lasting all the way through the seventies into the eighties) but also spawned a legion of domestic imitations as Wedding Night Report (1972) (with Christina von Blanc), Early Awakening Report (1973) and Keyhole Report (1973). Even infamous and prolific Spanish sleaze merchant Jess Franco didn’t shy away from getting in on the action with his Virgin Report (1972) and the Erwin C. Dietrich co-directed Around the World in 80 Beds (1976). Not bad for a cheap sexploitation romp masquerading as a taboo-breaking and controversy courting “youth of today” exposé, itself a thinly-veiled excuse to show as much naked mädels as possible while trying to maintain a veneer of respectability.

In the ensuing decades since the moralizing, the prude mindset, and the surrounding hypocrisy concerning teenage sexuality haven’t changed in the slightest. In any medium of your choosing teenage – and adolescent girls remain a fixture for fetishization and sexualization. Schoolgirl Report was progressive for its time and it has all but admitted that the “documentary” framing device was merely there to avoid the kind of censorship that movies like this usually endured. Very much like Ruggero Deodato’s Cannibal Holocaust (1979) almost a decade later Schoolgirl Report posits that it does not condone the promiscuous excesses its hedonistic minxes engage in, yet in the same breath goes well out of its way to shoot every transgression in loving detail. Whether its same-sex couplings, polyamory, nude photography, father-daughter and/or brother-sister incest, prostitution (either voluntary or via coercion), rape, or teen pregnancy no topic was ever too controversial or taboo for the Schoolgirl Report franchise.

A recurring theme is that many of the mädels are attracted to much older men, often authority figures or clergy. Girls corrupting clergy was one of the standards of classic sexploitation. Here the girls in question just happened to be schulmädchen. It always were the mädels who were aggressively instigating the trysts and various sexual permutations. Each vignette serving as some kind of male wish fulfillment scenario or as a cautionary tale, if the Report had honorable intentions. In true seventies fashion the men typically were victims (self-agency apparently exclusively a female trait) or sacrificial lambs in many of the more tragic (and, sometimes, abusive) scenarios. The earlier episodes obviously were far more innocent than the later, much more outlandish sequels as the series desperately tried to remain relevant increasingly finding itself competing with the new sex cinemas. What remains a constant is that Wolf C. Hartwig never had any trouble finding ample of German mädchen willing to get naked for him. To think that Lindsay Lohan refused to get naked for her supposedly sleazy thriller I Know Who Killed Me (2007). The old adage never rung truer. They truly don’t make ‘em like this anymore.