Twice married Hollywood actress Lauren Becall is believed to have once said: ”A woman isn’t complete without a man. But where do you find a man – a real man – these days?” Perhaps she should Sweden for size – apparently they make the best husbands if a real man means being able to cook, clean and do the washing up.
But Bacall didn’t find a Swedish suitor during her stay in Trollhättan, filming the movie Dogville in 2003. The city has been affectionately dubbed Trollywood thanks to Film i Väst, a film fund and studio whose facilities are famously used by mad-cap Danish director Lars Von Trier and the home-grown talent of Swedish movie-maker Josef Fares.
Bacall, along with Dogville’s leading lady Nicole Kidman and a selection of random Swedish actors, now tread the boards of the city’s walk of fame on Storgatan. I wonder if the actresses perhaps had the pleasure of visiting the Saab car museum during their stay?
The tourist office fervently tried selling me a ticket and factory tour – perhaps to aid more funds for the the crisis-ridden car-maker whose primary production plant is here. But they did flog me a ride on the Saab-engineered cable car to get a fabulous view of the Göta Canal and the beautiful surroundings that neighbour an otherwise drab city centre.
Aside from the folklore trolls that legend says once lived on the islands in the river, Trollhättan was historically isolated due to the natural waterfalls which stopped boats navigating the inland waterway. That was until 1800 when the first locks were built and the last completed in 1916. You can tour the whole lock system on foot if you care, but rather than looking at them, it’s what they do that I thought more impressive.
At 3pm every day in July and August the sluice gates are opened and the sight of masses of water rushing into the river is quite a spectacle, with visitors queuing to get the best bridge view long before opening time.
The impact is pretty impressive and not worthy of words alone. Photographs too can’t quite capture the moment. So inspired by being in Trollywood, I made a short but masterful film of the event which is currently being premiered here.