Eric M. Nilsson’s rich and multi-layered masterpiece Anonym [Anonymous] avoids to be categorized. It’s a TV documentary, an essay film and a detective story at once. It starts with a finding in a container in central Stockholm; film strips, photographies, magazines and other leftover objects. Who is the man reappearing with a crossed out face? Why has this unknown man left this seemingly unfinished work and what’s his motif for staying anonymous? What is the meaning behind all this – if there is any?
The film then turns into a phantom portrait through interviews with other (less anonymous) people appearing in the found material; actor Ernst-Hugo Järegård, writer Stig Larsson, jesuit priest Rainer Carls and a man called “The Professor”. The conversations alternates between subjects such as creation, communication, meaning and representation.
Eric M. Nilsson is constantly occupied with the problems of communication and understanding. His visual language is often clear and modest – his first impulses were from cinéma verité – but the images and sequences are put together in a montage that effectively disrupts conventional narrative unity, a process which is underpinned by the voice-over which, at times, is contrasted with the visual and sometimes confirms it, almost to the point of redundancy. This creates an unstable cinematic universe where the question of truth is in focus but never answered. His first shorts, for example Kök (“Kitchen”, 1963) and Om en cirkus (“About a circus”, 1965) are efforts to approach a physical reality and the interaction between individuals. Some of his films have been portraits of loners, solitary individuals, like Hos Georges (“At Georges’”, 1966), which documents everyday life in a bookshop, or Profeten (“The prophet”, 1984) which deals with a catholic priest working in the most protestant part of France. In Eleonoras testamente (“The testament of Eleonora”, 1967) Nilsson created an early ‘mockumentary’ where he made a parody on cultural journalism in television. Some of his films have been openly autobiographical like Kameliapojken (“The camelia boy”, 1983) and Dubbla verkligheter (“Double realities”, 1995). In the latter, he returns to his childhood in wartime Belgium and the experience of fear and hiding.
There is in Eric M. Nilsson an affinity with the works of, for example, Chris Marker; he turned the documentary into an intellectual and ironic stream of consciousness, reflecting human memory and human language, but never codifying his efforts into a coherent style. Nilsson seems to remain ‘the thin man’ of Swedish film, jumping from one position to another, refusing to stand still.
A History of Swedish Experimental Film Culture: From Early Animation to Video Art (2010)
918MB | 56m 37s | 696×576 | mkv