SIMON AND THE OAKS 

The film is about Simon (Bill Skarsgård), growing up in a working-class family on the outskirts of Gothenburg during World War II. He is very talented and always felt different and an outsider.

 

Against his parents' approval, he seeks education in the arts, normally not attended by members of the working class. There he meets Isaak (Karl Linnertorp), the son of a wealthy Jewish bookseller who fled persecution in Nazi Germany.

 

The lives of the two boys and their families intertwine as the war rages in Europe. At the end of the war, it becomes clear to Simon that his life, family and his very identity will no longer be the same.

Rochelle Wright provides the first historical overview and analysis of the manner in which Jews and other ethnic outsiders have been depicted in Swedish film from 1930 to the present.

Focusing on films produced in Sweden for primarily Swedish audiences, Wright analyzes how the portrayal of the relatively small Jewish minority has evolved over the years. She compares the images of Jews in Swedish film with those of other ethnic subcultures: long-term resident communities such astattare (‘travelers’, an indigenous pariah group often confused with gypsies), Finns, the Sami, and recent immigrant populations such as Greeks, Italians, Turks, and Yugoslavians.

 

Wright’s cross-disciplinary approach to interrelated issues of ethnicity and national identity enables her to take advantage of the methodologies of historians and sociologists as well as those of literary and film critics. She bases her study on a detailed analysis of the films, but, by way of comparison, she examines filmscripts and literary sources. She also consults contemporary reviews, interviews with actors and directors, and biographies and memoirs as well as critical discussion among film historians.

 

Wright confronts important—and exceedingly difficult—social questions. She deals head-on with xenophobia, anti-Semitism, immigration, assimilation, ethnicity, multiculturalism, and the national self-image of Swedes as reflected in their cinema. She also analyzes the manner in which Swedish film represents the persecution of Jews in Nazi-dominated Europe.

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OTTO SALOMON

Otto Salomon was born in Göteborg, Sweden, to fairly wealthy Jewish parents. After grammar school (matriculation, 1868), he spent four months at the Technological Institute in Stockholm and eight months at Ultuna Agricultural Institute near Uppsala; he did not complete either course of study.

 

As a teacher and educator, Salomon was self-taught; he acquired teaching experience at the vocational school for boys at Nääs, a manor about twenty miles east of Göteborg. There Salomon’s uncle, the rich businessman August Abrahamson, owned a large estate. Together, these two men founded a vocational school for boys in 1872, a vocational school for girls in 1874 and a teachertraining school for slöjd (craftwork) teachers in 1875.

 

From 1882 onwards Salomon concentrated his activities on the teacher-training school, lecturing and organizing for the further training of elementary school-teachers.

 

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SWEDEN

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