”Tuesday, August 24 – When I woke up this morning, I suddenly imagined that Helge had hidden somewhere in the apartment. I was terrified because Mom and Dad could come home at any minute. It was like a nightmare. I had to take care of it, the situation with Helge.”
WARNING: Contains spoilers
Review Date: March 11, 2010
Released by: Synapse Films
Release date: 3/31/2009
Region 0, NTSC
Widescreen 1.66:1 | 16x9: Yes
Fifteen year-old Lena Svensson (Christina Lindberg
) is a beautiful middle class girl living in Sweden. And boy has she gotten herself into one hell of a mess. Over the summer, while her parents were away traveling and her boyfriend Jan (Björn Adelly
) was in the countryside at his mother's cabin, she fell in with an older man named Helge (Heinz Hopf
) who threw wild sex parties. Helge also took a series of provocative photographs of her in the nude and it's come back to haunt her. Helge has decided he is in love with her and is willing to use the photos as blackmail if she doesn't respond to his affections. What is a girl to do?
In this case, she runs away. Jan returns from his summer vacation and she tells him what happened. But his reaction is so bad that she flees the city, hitchhiking her way to the cabin in the countryside where he has just returned from. Along the way she picks up a couple named Lars (Janne Carlsson
) and Ulla (Birgitta Molin
) - who turn out to be nudists - and they go together to the cabin. But Jan, suspecting that his girlfriend went there, shows up and takes her back to the city.
The couple talks about what happened and she explains why she did what she did. Knowing that she truly loves Jan, Lena realizes that she must rescue her future by finding a way to get the photos and their negatives back from Helge before his obsession with her leads to her ruin.
- formerly known in America as The Depraved
- is an early 1970's softcore Swedish skin flick that features plenty of nudity and sex and is relatively short on story, character and filmmaking style. You may ask what the problem with that is, since this is a genre is not normally known for those characteristics. The problem is that the film seemingly aspires to be more than just a skin flick and can't quite pull it off. There is an actual plot here buried under some of the more inane elements, but the director is simply unable to get to it. Ultimately the only reason to sit through it is to see the beautiful Christina Lindberg, and that would still be the only reason to see it if the director had dropped his pretensions and simply made a straight skin flick.
While watching the film I was struck by how much it resembled an after school special, a genre that was about to take off in its own right when Exposed
was made. Many of you reading this no doubt remember coming home from school in the 70's, 80's and early 90's and watching the ABC network, where one-hour made-for-TV movies about topics relevant to teens were sporadically broadcast. Exposed
is full of elements that would have been right at home in many of those productions, from Lena's absentee parents and Jan's overbearing mother to the sex between teens and the frightening prospect of an older man as a stalker.
Of course the difference here is not just the nudity, but also the tone of the whole thing and the way it plays out. An after school special about a topic like this might have either ended with Lena getting killed by Helge (protagonists did die in some of the darker episodes) or, more likely, it would have ended with the police arresting Helge and Lena getting a stern lecture from her parents or some other authority figure about the dangers of older men and sex. Then maybe at the very end one of the actors in the special would have come on and spoken directly into the camera telling kids what they should do if they found themselves in a similar situation. It would not have climaxed with an S&M scene in which Lena stabs Helge, which afterwards is revealed to have been only a figment of her imagination.
That is the most infuriating thing about Exposed
, the fact that so much of what happens is essentially going on only in Lena's head. Early in the film, as she hitchhikes out of the city, she is picked up by an older man. We see them stop, and he attempts to rape her. But it's only her imagination. This initial flight of fancy is acceptable enough. As Lena is fleeing from another older man, it's not unreasonable for her to be a little paranoid about this one. But it keeps happening, again and again. She imagines Lars coming onto her and Ulla trying to kill her. She imagines being in car chase and her car tipping over and bursting into flames. The editing is below par, meaning that sometimes it's hard to tell after the fact whether what we've seen is reality or all in Lena's head - in fact, there are a few parts which I had to watch multiple times in order to figure out.
Christina Lindberg is not much of an actress, and she was recruited by the director only after he discovered that she was the most popular pin-up model in Swedish military barracks. She has the right look for the part, not only because of her beautiful figure but also because of her innocent, little-girl like facial features. She seems appropriately innocent for the role of Lena, but she can only hold our attention when she’s not speaking. It’s not surprising that she was so much better as the mute protagonist in Thriller
. To be a successful model one has to have a certain amount of physical acting skill, but it’s easy to tell that Lindberg hadn’t had any serious professional training as an actress. As Helge’s still photos in the film show, the camera only loves her when she’s silent.
is presented letterboxed at 1.66:1 and is given a progressive scan 16x9 transfer. This presentation of the film looks good for an older movie, but you will probably be more impressed if you watch the included featurette, which has footage from the film before it was restored.
The image is pleasingly sharp and well defined. The film uses a color scheme that favors earth tones more than bright ones, and this transfer reflects that, although vivid hues will sometimes pop out off the screen when given the chance (check out a brief early scene where Lena stops at a Shell gas station; the recognizable yellow and red corporate logo of the company literally jumps out at you). Flesh tones appear accurate for the most part, which is good since there’s a hell of a lot of flesh on display here.
Despite having been cleaned up the film elements still show lots of damage in the form of numerous small specks and scratches. Occasionally vertical lines will show up. The quality of the image is also somewhat inconsistent when it comes to grain levels. Most scenes show a noticeable but unobtrusive level of grain, but several scenes and shots are extremely grainy, far more than the rest of the presentation.
The only audio option is a Swedish language track in Dolby 2.0 Mono. This is not an ancient movie, but it is almost forty years old, and the audio track sounds as if a lot of work was put into it. It's not a perfect presentation of course, there is some hissing and popping audible on occasions, but it is free of any truly debilitating distortion and background noise. Dialogue, music and sound effects are clearly and intelligibly reproduced. All in all it's an imperfect but perfectly acceptable presentation.
Optional English subtitles are included.
Synapse has cobbled together a moderate but passable slate of extras for this release, starting with the previously mentioned featurette, Over Exposed
. Running about seventeen minutes, it features interviews with director Gustav Wiklund and Christina Lindberg. Wiklund gets the most screen time and traces the history of the production from its conception and fundraising to its premiere at Cannes, where Roger Corman expressed an interest in distributing it in North America and even offered Wiklund an opportunity to direct two films for him (which, regrettably for Wiklund's career, never happened). Wiklund and Lindberg also talk about the actors in the film, particularly the late Heinz Hopf.
The disc also includes audio tracks of two songs sung by Christina Lindberg (she used her film work to get into music, apparently her true passion). The songs are called “Everything Goes Quiet Again” and “You Are My Only Love”, they each run about three and a half minutes and are presented without benefit of English translation.
Finally there are Swedish and American theatrical trailers, and a still gallery.
There’s no doubting that Exposed
has a certain historical importance as an exploitation film, even though it is in many ways more of a failed drama about teenage life than a typical skin flick. With Christina Lindberg’s abundant nudity fans of the actress should have no trouble justifying a purchase of this DVD, especially with above average picture, sound and extras. Not Synapse’s best disc by any means, but a good presentation nonetheless.
Movie – C
Image Quality – B-
Sound – B-
Supplements – B-
- Running Time – 1 hour 32 minutes
- Not Rated
- 1 Disc
- Chapter Stops
- Swedish 2.0 Mono
- English subtitles
- Over Exposed featurette
- Christina Lindberg audio tracks
- Still gallery