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Alien Octopodes: Öyvind Fahlström's Du gamla, Du fria, and the Institutional Practice of Swedish Experimental Feature Films


  • Oskar Nilsson

Summary, in English

The aim of this master’s thesis is to investigate the discursive networks and production contexts of the rare and insular phenomena of Swedish experimental features. As a point of departure, the tentative and limited filmography of Swedish artist Öyvind Fahlström is expanded upon, as the thesis present a unique case study on his first and only feature film Du gamla, Du fria (“Provocation”, 1972). The film was produced and distributed within the framework of the Swedish Film Institute’s policies regarding valuable art and quality film. Du gamla, Du fria, alongside Peter Kylberg’s JAG (“I”, 1966) and Michael Meschke’s Skärseld (“Purgatory”, 1975), constitutes rare examples on how public authority and commercial film production merged with the more venturesome aspects of experimental film culture. These filmmakers were all feature film debutants and earned financial support from the established industry, which resulted in internal and public struggles in the field of commercially viable filmmaking.

The study focuses on two coherent areas of experimental film culture, which are conceptually placed pre- contra post the inauguration of the Swedish Film Institute. Here the early experimental features are introduced: …och efter skymning kommer mörker (“…and after dawn comes darkness”, 1947) by Rune Hagberg; Carl Gyllenberg’s Som i drömmar (“As in dreams”, 1954); and Peter Weiss’s Hägringen (“The Mirage”, 1959); proposing that these films, in opposition to the SFI productions, expressed a distinct form of cultural practice, as they were conceived in a hermetic mode of experimental film production. By adapting a media-archaeological and discourse analytical approach these films and their experimental features are used in a summary manner to probe the complex relations between minor and major film cultures within Swedish historiography. Finally, based on the findings, the concept of avant-garde film is problematised as a distinct form of cultural practice.


Publishing year




Document type

Student publication for Master's degree (two years)


  • Languages and Literatures


  • Öyvind Fahlström
  • Du gamla
  • Du fria
  • Provocation
  • Peter Kylberg
  • JAG
  • Michael Meschke
  • Skärseld
  • Rune Hagberg
  • …och efter skymning kommer mörker
  • Carl Gyllenberg
  • Som i drömmar
  • Peter Weiss
  • Hägringen
  • The Swedish Film Institute
  • avant-garde film
  • experimental film
  • Swedish experimental features


  • Olof Hedling (Dr.)