September 20, 2007

Salmer fra kjøkkenet / Kitchen Stories

A film about scientific observation and how it affects researcher and research subject alike set in 1950s rural Norway hardly sounds a promising scenario, but you have to try out Salmer fra kjøkkenet / Kitchen Stories, which screened on Rialto Channel a few nights ago.
It's the sort of movie Ingmar Bergman could have made if he had had a sense of humour instead of being the stereotypical dour Swede. It certainly had me on the floor with glee from the opening scene when a troop of identical looking caravan pulling cars cross the Norway-Sweden border where they had to change driving lanes (Sweden drove on the left in the 1950s, while Norway did not) and one of the drivers was physically unwell from having to drive on the "wrong" side of the road. All part of a whole host of digs Scandinavians make at each other, like any neighbouring nationalities do, but it never turned malicious.
The Swedish researchers going to observe Norwegian bachelor peasants in their ergonomic use of their kitchens had me slightly squirming in my seat, because it so horribly illustrated bad sociological or psychological research, where observers think they can just watch their subjects go about their lives without actually influencing the situation or behaviour.
If it all sounds unpromising or esoteric as a comedy film, don't be disheartened, but try to catch it next time it's on. Scandinavian humour is very droll.

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