Christina Lindberg • Actress
“I wanted to be more than just my body”
by Marta Bałaga
- Cineuropa met up with Christina Lindberg, the Swedish superstar of “artsploitation”, in Poland as she presented her cult 1973 erotic drama Anita: Swedish Nymphet
Known for erotically charged movies and inspiring Kill Bill’s Elle Driver thanks to her iconic, eye-patched character in the rape-revenge flick Thriller: A Cruel Picture [aka They Call Her One Eye], Sweden’s Christina Lindberg talked to Cineuropa about an usual career that brought her all the way to the New Horizons International Film Festival’s brand-new Wet Dreams section.
Cineuropa: Once, when asked about Anita, you mentioned the realism of that film. What did you mean by that?
Christina Lindberg: If you look at it now, it’s really not glamorous. This girl was so vulnerable – I was supposed to be 17 years old in the movie and so many girls that age find themselves in a similar situation, especially once they start exploring their sexuality. Even today. I think Torgny Wickman was the first director who thought I was rather good. The only problem I had was that I wasn’t allowed to wear any make up. He wanted me to be clean. Torgny saw Anita as a serious movie – I am convinced of that.
Her sexual encounters are not necessarily joyful. This confusion, or maybe even disappointment, was always reflected on your face.
That’s why this part fit me so well. By that time, I had made around 20 movies, and all the directors were joking that the only person taking this job seriously was Christina Lindberg. I really did – I was trying to convey a message. I knew some of them only wanted me for my body, but I was always giving more. Maybe that’s why these movies have survived; maybe people finally appreciate that I was trying to tell them a good story. Sometimes it feels to me that these films, Anita or Thriller, seem more current today. Before, they only made other women and journalists very, very angry.
Your character in Thriller actually became a feminist icon of sorts. Because she is a survivor?
That might have been the single most important message in the movie – she is not a victim. Frigga was my first real character. She had an eye-patch, so I was wearing it also at home for almost three months, I had to learn how to fight, how to handle weapons. I found a bit of myself in her strength. I took off my clothes in Thriller too, but I felt: “Now I can show them what I can do.” Still, when it came out, everyone hated it. The director lost all his money making his previous film and he was desperate. He wanted to make a “shitty” movie – that was his intention. He didn’t think I was a good actress, he chose me because he wanted to sell it. Thriller was so different and people just couldn’t handle it at the time. It was too much. They only saw the violence.
Were you bothered by it, too? When Tarantino showed the trailer to Uma Thurman before making Kill Bill, reportedly she didn’t want to watch it – she was too scared.
Tarantino thinks it’s one of the most violent films ever made, which it’s certainly not. But for him, it’s a compliment [laughs]. I think she was especially bothered by all of these inserted porn scenes featuring other people, even though they are just ugly. They are not glorifying porn. They had to be in the movie to help you understand why Frigga reacts this way. She is like a machine; she doesn’t care about the future. She does what she has to do to destroy these men.
When you started to make these risqué movies, like Maid in Sweden, what was your take on them? With Deep Throat among the biggest money-makers of the year, the approach was certainly different.
I was still in high school. I packed my little suitcase, went to Stockholm and stepped into the world I have never seen. Then, when I came back, my centrefolds were already plastered all over the walls. My mother’s biggest wish was for me to graduate, so I did. And then, two days later, I packed my little suitcase again. I was still so shy back then, you can see it in those films. But I always got respect from the people I worked with. I liked to be seen, you know?
Did you also like it when, after the splashy Cannes premiere for Exposed, the kind they almost don’t do anymore, you became an international “It” girl?
I never had an agent; I took care of my own career. I grew up this way, very independent, with my mother providing for the family. And suddenly there were all these men putting me on the table, taking away all the flowers I got so that I would show off my breasts to the press. And I did. It was raining and I looked like a wet dog, it was a bit brutal. I was in Japan before and it was the same – they would put you on catwalks, wearing next to nothing. When I think about it today, it seems a bit absurd. I did two movies there, Journey to Japan – very odd, I think I was raped all the time in that one – and Sex and Fury. Another one Tarantino was inspired by.
Then I came back to make Anita with Torgny, but once we started to work on The Intruders my partner became extremely jealous so I decided to stop. I took acting lessons but failed at the end and turned to writing instead. At first I did some “sauna” articles. I would do profiles of well-known people, they would take off their clothes, I would take off mine and pretended to write – right there in the sauna!
Once you became an established journalist, how did Adrián García Bogliano convince you to make Black Circle? Released last year, it boasts your biggest role in decades.
Bogliano admires Bergman, but he also loves Thriller. His dream was to make a movie with Christina Lindberg. He wrote it for me and it was important, because there are things I can do, but I wouldn’t be suitable for a comedy, for example. There was so much dialogue in that movie – I spoke more here than in my entire career! But it was nice to come back, to go full circle, if you will. I am home again.
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