• Sweden's news in English
 
app_header_v3

New film tackles Olof Palme's complex legacy

14 Sep 2012, 16:33

Published: 14 Sep 2012 16:33 GMT+02:00

For the last few weeks, buzz has been building in Sweden for the September 14th release of "Palme: älskad och hatad" ('Palme: loved and hated').

The feature-length documentary is the first to feature material provided by Palme's family, including never-before-seen Super-8 clips from family vacations and attempts to trace the journey of an upper-class boy who went on to "create the world's most equal country".

Despite more than 25 years having passed since he was assassinated in downtown Stockholm, Palme remains a divisive figure in Swedish politics.

His name can still spark strong reactions about how he either helped or hurt Sweden during his three decades at the heart of Swedish politics, including two stints as prime minister.

According to filmmaker Maud Nycander, Palme was – and still is – a one-of-a-kind political figure in Sweden whose intensity and passion stood in stark contrast to the way Swedish politics had been conducted.

"Sweden is a consensus country, and here comes a politician with brilliant oratory skills giving fiery speeches. That was something new for Sweden," she tells The Local.

Related Olof Palme photo gallery

"That led to him being viewed as arrogant and a know-it-all very early on, even when he was simply a political advisor [to then Prime Minister Tage Elander] in the late 1950s when the first hateful newspaper articles appeared."

Fellow filmmaker Kristina Lindström adds that Palme's combative debate style was often viewed as "aggressive".

"But that's not the way he really was. He had a hard time understanding why people couldn't differentiate between how he conducted a debate and how he was as a person," she says.

Lindström tells of a recent review of the film in a Swedish hip-hop magazine which compared Palme to Swedish football star Zlatan Ibrahimovic proclaiming, "if you like Zlatan, you should like Palme".

"It's sort of like a metaphor for someone who is outgoing, who sparks reactions – both for and against; who says what they think," she says.

"When we grew up, Palme was more of a concept than a person. And everyone had an opinion about him. He was uncompromising. When he took a position, he was very clear about it and very passionate like no one else was."

Nycander and Lindström explain that their motivation for making the film was to help lift Palme's political legacy out from under the shadow of his 1986 assassination.

"The murder really overshadowed Palme as a person and his life," explains Nycander.

"The generation of people who are now around 30 haven't grown up with Palme like we did; they only know about Palme through the murder."

In addition to offering younger Swedes a more nuanced view of Palme's time as the leader of the Social Democratic party, the film is also very much about Sweden at the time.

"Our vision was to do a film that could tell about both Palme and his time. The film shows a lot about the Sweden that existed at that time and he was a part of that time. He had an impact on the times, and the times had an impact on him," says Nycander.

"There was such a belief in the future on the part of Palme and at that time that we don't have today."

Both filmmakers emphasize that the film in no way attempts to put Palme on a pedestal or portray him in an overly positive light.

Indeed, the film also addresses a number of the scandals which Palme faced during his career, including the IB-affair, in which a secret intelligence agency was revealed to be operating with the Armed Forces.

"We really haven't tried to paint some sort of idealized portrait; rather we wanted to do a film about a very complex person," says Nycander.

Indeed, Palme's legacy is a complicated one, his still-unsolved assassination notwithstanding.

As an example, the filmmakers reflect on Palme's relationship with the United States, the foreign policy of which Palme was often at loggerheads, but a country which nevertheless held a warm spot in his heart.

It was during a year studying at Kenyon College in Ohio that Palme was able to move beyond what had been a number of turbulent years at boarding school in Sweden.

"In the United States he got to be a new person, a different person," explains Lindström.

"He really was a friend of the United States; he loved the spirit there and the energy."

Nevertheless, the image of Palme famously marching in Stockholm with the ambassador from North Vietnam in 1968 prompted the United States to recall its ambassador in what many consider to be the nadir of relations between the two countries.

In the film, former US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger discusses his frustration at Sweden's lack of understanding for the United States' policy in Vietnam.

Story continues below…

"To be compared with Nazism despite having fought a four-year war against it was unacceptable," Kissinger says in the film.

But despite differences over policy, Kissinger maintained a great respect for Palme, delivering one of the more moving speeches at his funeral, Nycander recalls.

While the film doesn't focus on Palme's assassination, Nycander believes that the Sweden portrayed in the film ceased to exist the day that Palme died.

"We had a vision of ourselves as a country that was a little better than others. We were free, forward looking, modern. You could trust us," she explains.

"We had an image of ourselves that everything was so great, but maybe in reality it wasn't."

Palme also played an important part in shaping the view of Sweden from abroad.

"Palme still represents Sweden in many parts of the world even though Sweden is no longer his country," says Lindström.

"He helped put Sweden on the map."

David Landes

Follow David Landes on Twitter

Related links:

Your comments about this article

18:01 September 14, 2012 by JonnyDee
I really wish Sweden would honor the legacy of this great self-less man & his family by standing up against the U.S. and finally proclaiming the facts, which is that Palme was murdered by the U.S. because he was against the Vietnam War & advocated peace between the U.S. & USSR versus the Cold war that destroyed so many people.

Here's what really happened: http://www.veteranstoday.com/2011/08/19/assassination-of-swedens-olof-palme-most-dangerous-moment-of-cold-war-3/
18:50 September 14, 2012 by Uncle
JonnyDEE

COME ON. I understand that it is extremely fashionable to blame US in every evil deed ever done, while USSR, China, Islamic countries and smaller communist countries did nothing but bred unicorns and produced rainbows, (that is until countries are exterminating themself and then the big Satan is called for help) but REALLY?

First, the South African connection is very strong. Then, Rhodesian one. Then, all the factions in Angola and Mozambique, where mr. Palme felt comfy enough to push his long nose into. East German extremists claimed responsibility. Indian connection, where Palme did not allow to sell weapons worth hundreds of millions . There was a Yugoslavian connection. BTW, USSR was also a prime suspect here, due to Palme's attempt to legally de-nuclearize Europe.

There were TENS of stakeholders in line to put a bullet through him ahead of the US.
04:25 September 19, 2012 by rc franden
is this guy like JFK killed by who KGBS.AFRICA or his own government seems like allot of political assassinations wont be told till all players are dead&burried sad since us americans feel that if JFK lived we would have never been in Vietnam cause he was there on fact finding & knew like afganistan a no likee those americans in our country peope!
12:28 September 23, 2012 by AHA
He was an honest man. Hating him came mostly from the right but, even from some of his own "people". I remember the hateful Ads in GP newspaper every other week for many months before his assasination, sent by some Dr Petre`n, I think the name was. Then the mindless investigations that were initiated by a polisman who had an absurd idea of a Kurd connection. The same polisman wanted his wife to have polis protection.
22:20 October 5, 2012 by Schwedenurlauber
He was the last statesman in Sweden who left footprints. Parallel to his later government ended the time of functional socialism and globalization broke through. I think, he would have argued about the powerlessness of elected administrations in the present and worked against this side effect of a globalized economy.
Today's headlines
Struggling Ericsson pulls plug on CEO Vestberg
Hans Vestberg presents Ericsson's second quarter report last week. Photo: Christine Olsson/TT

Swedish telecoms giant Ericsson has fired its long-standing CEO Hans Vestberg, the company announced on Monday morning.

Private holiday rentals boom in Sweden
A youth hostel in Sundsvall, central Sweden. Photo: Helena Landstedt / TT

More tourists in Sweden are choosing to rent private homes from the likes of Airbnb - but the hotel industry is just fine.

My Swedish Career
'The fashion industry can really do better'
Social entrepreneur Stefanie Smith. Photo: Private

The Local talks to US social entrepreneur Stefanie Smith about transparent fashion and why Sweden's startup scene is about more than just tech.

Sweden to sizzle in the sun for a few more days
The beach at Båstad on Saturday. Photo: TT

The heatwave that hit most of Sweden last week is set to continue until Wednesday at least, according to Swedish weather forecaster, SMHI.

Swedish ex-prime minister Thorbjorn Fälldin dead at 90
Fälldin in 1981. Photo: TT/FLT-PICA

Thorbjorn Fälldin, the former farmer who became prime minister in Sweden's first non-Social Democratic government since World War II, has died at the age of 90.

Swedish police fear serial rapist on loose in Malmö
The attacker is thought to be in his mid-twenties and had been seen riding his bike in the area prior to the incident. Photo:TT

The rape of a 14-year-old girl in Malmö has led police to conjecture that there may be a serial rapist operating in the southern Swedish city.

Stockholm Pokémon hunter impaled on metal fence spike
Another Swede playing Pokémon Go in Stockholm. Photo: Izabelle Nordfjell/TT

He tried to climb a fence to find more Pokémon.

Video
When Alicia Vikander taught us to put our pen in the bottle
Swedish actress Alicia Vikander and US talkshow host Jimmy Fallon. Photo: Tonight Show/NBC/Screenshot

We're not even sure if that's a euphemism or not.

Muslim man fired for not shaking women's hands
File photo of people shaking hands. Photo: Anders Wiklund/TT

A man is suing a local council in Sweden after he lost his job for refusing to shake hands with female colleagues.

Swedish bus driver who hit asylum seeker: 'I'm not racist'
The story has grabbed global headlines. Photo: Nobina

A Swedish bus driver caught on camera beating and kicking an asylum seeker has for the first time spoken to media.

Sponsored Article
Gran Canaria: Where Swedes go to work (and play)
National
Watch this Swedish weather host leave his fly open... on live TV
Sponsored Article
Why you should attend an international job fair
The Local Voices
'I fled war in Syria. I never expected to be beaten in Sweden'
National
WATCH: Asylum seeker brutally beaten by Swedish bus driver
Blog updates

14 July

Boris Johnson: why Britain’s new foreign minister is cordially loathed (Globally Local) »

"There are lots of things to say about Boris Johnson, Britain’s new foreign secretary. He is…" READ »

 

11 July

Swedish quizzes (The Swedish Teacher) »

"Hej! I have created some quizzes you can take online to test your Swedish skills. Here…" READ »

 
 
 
Sponsored Article
5 reasons you should try dating with The Inner Circle
Technology
Why everyone is talking about Sweden's GTA pride parade
Sponsored Article
Why Swiss hospitality graduates are in demand
National
EU hits truck cartel with record price fixing fine
Society
OPINION: Why Sweden is the most extreme country in the world
The Local Voices
'There is equality in accommodation in Sweden: Everyone is suffering'
Sponsored Article
What can newcomers learn about Sweden at Almedalen?
Gallery
Property of the week: Gräsö, Östhammar
Sponsored Article
Five easy ways to travel more often
Gallery
People-watching: July 15th-17th
National
How to make sure you're not caught out by Sweden's old bank notes
Sponsored Article
Why expats choose international health insurance
Business & Money
Why Sweden has been named the most innovative country in Europe
Sponsored Article
'Sweden's Lauryn Hill' touches the country's musical soul
National
Terror attack: what should you do?
National
French expat on the moment he was assaulted by a Stockholm bouncer
Technology
Gunman? Nah, smartphone Swede
Sponsored Article
Five things Americans should know about voting abroad
The Local Voices
'If the war in Syria ended today, would you go back?'
Sponsored Article
Avoid hidden fees when sending money overseas
The Local Voices
‘I feel like I’m living in a grave!’
Sponsored Article
Local guide: the best of Berlin
Gallery
IN PICTURES: Sweden's Princess Victoria celebrates 39th birthday
Sponsored Article
Why you need a EuroBonus American Express Card
Gallery
People-watching: July 13th
National
Swedes discover surprise mountain
Politics
What Sweden's home secretary thinks of Britain's new PM
Gallery
Property of the week: Smedjebacken, Dalarna
The Local Voices
'Even xenophobic Swedes can be polite’
Politics
WATCH: A very Swedish take on Brexit...
National
Swede's fury at Daily Mail's Bråvalla 'lies'
Gallery
People-watching: July 8th-10th
National
Sweden and Denmark trolled each other on Twitter and it's hilarious
The Local Voices
'The best time to be smuggled to Europe is August 20th, 2015'
National
ANALYSIS: Why Swedes are talking more about immigration than before
National
Watch Icelanders cheer their Swedish hero coach
The Local Voices
Swedes: Stop obsessing over your material life and start talking to strangers
3,334
jobs available