Indiana University Libraries Moving Image Archive

The face of Sweden

8 episodes, 1963, Swedish Institute for Cultural Relations and the Swedish Broadcasting Corporation for NET

From WNET:

"The face of Sweden illuminates the life and culture of Sweden.  Each visual essay stands independently as a full consideration of a significant part of Swedish life, and each provides a key to the understanding of this small country and her people.  The format for the series consists of voice over film, with occasional brief interviews.  The content revolves about the central theme -- Sweden, a country where change is evolutionary and where moderation is characteristic.  The series covers Swedish social politics, foreign policy, law, history, industry, culture and art.  Among the distinguished persons who appear in the series are actress Ingrid Thulin and motion picture producer-director Ingmar Bergman (both in program6).

The series is admittedly a self-portrait.  Its thesis as expressed by those involved in its production is summarized in the following four paragraphs.

Like the United States, Sweden has achieved a high standard of living while maintaining her concern for the preservation of democratic freedom and the dignity of the individual.  In addition to material benefits, the population enjoys a remarkable degree of individual security.  Poverty, unemployment and illiteracy are virtually non-existent.

Yet there are aspects of Swedish life and government that, on the surface, appear contradictory and have given rise to widely held misconceptions.  It is commonly believed, for instance, that the high standard of living and the alleviation of social problems have been achieved through socialism and are therefore illusory benefits outweighed by a loss of individual freedom.  Critics have attempted to prove that the country seethes with hidden social ills - a high suicide rate, mental illness, alcoholism, and illegitimacy.

The true picture is quite a different one.  Sweden is ruled by a king, but her government is a constitutional monarchy.  The Social Democrats have been the majority party of four decades, but they cannot operate without the support of coalitions in the minority parties.  Furthermore, the country is a capitalistic democracy in which only three percent of the national industry is government controlled.  That three percent is made up of primarily railroads, hydroelectric power facilities, and other public utilities that, in such a small country, do not offer reasonable returns to the private investor.

This series then explains from the Swedish point of view, the structure of the country’s society."