We know D.C. Get our free newsletter to stay in the know.
Elvira Madigan, an international hit in 1967, was a reputation-making film. Indeed, it made a reputation that director Bo Widerberg never lived down, at least outside his native Sweden. Seen today, the lush colors, soft focus, and doomed young lovers of the film (pictured, at 2 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 5, and 3:45 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 18) tax most viewers’ patience, although the choppy editing and fragmentary use of music (mostly Mozart) give the film a Godardian edge. Twenty years later, Widerberg himself parodied his pastoral style in the introduction to The Serpent’s Way (at 3 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 25): a tracking shot of a field of flowers that quickly yields to a bleak tale of a poor woman who can pay her rent only by allowing her landlord into her bed. Both films are typical of Widerberg’s penchant for period dramas that touch on contemporary social issues. Other examples include two semi-autobiographical movies set in Malmî, the director’s hometown: 1963’s Raven’s End (with The Pram at 2 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 4) is a Depression-era drama that was one of the first Swedish films to notice the country’s poor; 1995’s All Things Fair (at 4 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 26) is a May-December romance set during World War II. In mid-career, Widerberg also started making dark, urban police thrillers that exposed the corruption of Swedish society, including The Man on the Roof (at 4 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 12) and The Man from Majorca (at 4 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 19). At the National Gallery of Art’s East Building Auditorium, 4th & Constitution Avenue NW. Free. (202) 842-6799. (Mark Jenkins)