Mai Zetterling: Night Games

Mai Zetterling · 1966
105min · DCP

Featuring content that sparked controversy on the festival circuit, NIGHT GAMES continues the daring exploration into sexual confusion that Mai Zetterling initiated in Loving Couples. The director’s sophomore feature centers on Jan (Keve Hjelm), a young man who introduces his fiancée (Lena Brundin) to his family’s estate. The now empty manor triggers remembrances of childhood traumas—as depicted in fuguelike flashbacks—that force Jan to recognize an incestuous attachment between him and his overaffectionate mother (Ingrid Thulin) and its corruption of his romantic relationships. Masterfully using architectural space to plumb the depths of the psyche, Zetterling suffuses Jan’s inner journey with atmospherics and symbolism as he confronts the demons of his past.

Night Games is an exceedingly Freudian film—although Zetterling later denied this and claimed that her heart was with Carl Gustav Jung rather than ‘uncle Freud’” Mariah Larsson, A Cinema of Obsession: The Life and Work of Mai Zetterling

“An absorbing, even brilliant film… When it was first exhibited at the Venice Film Festival in 1966, it was considered the most daring film ever made. The police closed the theater to the public, and the judges saw it at a private screening…Now it can be seen for what it is: Not a sexploitation film in any sense, but a serious attempt to get inside the mind of this character.” Roger Ebert

“It’s been attacked as pornographic, but the attacks have not convinced anybody who actually saw it; indeed the manner in which eroticism is handled would be enough to make anybody think twice about the joys of sex. For the concern of Night Games is with a certain kind of depravity and with its unfortunate consequences. The scenes which have caused objections are in fact shocking; that is why they are necessary to the film.” Film Comment

Part of Directed by Mai Zetterling, four new restorations by the Swedish actor and director, famed for her collaborations with Ingmar Bergman, Nicolas Roeg, and Ken Loach. Co-presented with the National Nordic Museum.