I Am Curious (Yellow)  

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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

I Am Curious (Yellow) (Swedish: Jag är nyfiken - en film i gult) is a 1967 Swedish film directed by Vilgot Sjöman and starring Lena Nyman as a character named after her. It is a companion film to 1968's I Am Curious (Blue); the two were initially, intended to be one 3½ hour film. The films are named after the colours of the Swedish flag.



Director Vilgot Sjöman plans to make a social film starring his lover Lena Nyman, a young theater student who has little interest in social issues.

Lena's character, also named Lena, lives with her father in a small apartment in Stockholm and is driven by a burning passion for social justice and a need to understand the world, people and relationships. Her little room is filled with books, papers, and boxes full of clippings on topics such as "religion" and "men", and files on each of the 23 men with whom she has had sex. The walls are covered with pictures of concentration camps and a portrait of Francisco Franco, reminders of the crimes being perpetrated against humanity. She walks around Stockholm and interviews people about social classes in society, conscientious objection, gender equality, and the morality of vacationing in Franco's Spain. She and her friends also picket embassies and travel agencies. Lena's relationship with her father, who briefly went to Spain to fight Franco, is problematic, and she is distressed by the fact that he returned from Spain for unknown reasons after only a short period.

Through her father Lena meets the slick Bill (Börje in the original Swedish), who works at a menswear shop and voted for the Rightist Party. They begin a love affair, but Lena soon finds out from her father that Bill has another woman, Marie, and a young daughter. Lena is furious that Bill has not been open with her, and goes to the country on a bicycle holiday. Alone in a cabin in the woods, she attempts an ascetic lifestyle, meditating, studying non-violence and practicing yoga. Bill soon comes looking for her in his new car. She greets him with a shot gun, but they soon start to make love. Lena confronts Bill about Marie, and finds out about another of his lovers, Madeleine. They begin to fight and Bill leaves. Lena has strange dreams, in which she ties two teams of football players – she notes that they number 23 – to a tree, shoots Bill and cuts his penis off. She also dreams of being taunted by passing drivers as she cycles down a road, until finally Martin Luther King, Jr. drives up. She apologizes to him for not being strong enough to practice non-violence.

Lena returns home, destroys her room, and goes to the car showroom where Bill works to tell him she has scabies. They are treated at a clinic, and then go their separate ways. As the embedded story of Lena and Bill begins to resolve, the film crew and director Sjöman are featured more. The relationship between Lena the actress and Bill the actor has become intimate during the production of Vilgot's film, and Vilgot is jealous and clashes with Bill. The film concludes with Lena returning Vilgot's keys as he meets with another young female theater student.

In addition to the footage of King, the film also includes an interview with Minister of Transportation Olof Palme, who talks about the existence of class structure in Swedish society, and footage of Russian poet Yevgeny Yevtushenko.


Yellow was a landmark film that helped define the emergent change in Swedish film of the 1960s. Like a French New Wave film, the movie uses jump cuts and its story is not structured in a conventional Hollywood way. It also contains documentary elements; for example, it features a brief appearance by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. who is interviewed by Sjöman about his views on civil disobedience. This interview was filmed in March 1966, when Dr. King and Harry Belafonte were in Stockholm to start a new initiative for Swedish support of African Americans.


The film includes numerous and frank scenes of nudity and staged sexual intercourse. In one particularly controversial scene, Lena kissed her lover's flaccid penis. In 1969, the film was banned in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts for being pornographic. After three court battles the U.S. Supreme Court, in Byrne v. Karalexis, 401 U.S. 216 (1970), legalized the movie by overturning the state anti-obscenity law that regulated motion pictures.

The film's title was the inspiration for:

Plot keywords

nudity - jealousy - male nudity - feminism - male frontal nudity - female nudity - direct cinema - controversial - film in film - political - pseudo sociology - sex - class differences - economics - Francisco Franco - hypocrisy - money - non violence - political commentary - radicalism - social class - social commentary - social criticism - social democrat - social engineering - social justice - socialism - socio political - sweden - wealth - redistribution of sex - redistribution of wealth - scabies

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "I Am Curious (Yellow)" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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