The Adventures of Picasso Explained: What’s Up With the Ending?

The voiceover by American writer Gertrude Stein (Bernard Cribbins) tells the life story of the Spanish genius artist Pablo Picasso. The audience will see the birth of Pablo in Malaga, his studies at the art school in Madrid, his arrival in Paris, meeting Gertrude Stein herself, who played an important role in his life, the birth of various trends in his work, such as cubism or monstrism, Pablo’s communication with the American millionaire Ingrid Svensson Guggenheim, his acquaintance with famous artists and writers of that time, the artist’s work with Diaghilev’s performances, Pablo’s romance with Mademoiselle Sirka, a singer from a café in Montmartre, a trip to America, returning to France and living there during the occupation, and his father’s purchase of a large the mansion, which later created the Pablo Picasso Museum after his death.


The plot summary sounds like a typical biopic, doesn’t it? But this is no ordinary biopic. This is a surreal comedy, a kind of buffoonery shizuha, as Bublik the cat quite rightly described it.

The film was shot a very long time ago, as much as forty-three years ago. But I had not seen him before, and he was advised to me a couple of times in the comments. Nevertheless, I somehow could not be honored, and then literally by chance I stumbled upon it and decided to try to see: I don’t like it, I thought, I’ll quit, it’s business. Many old films, if you don’t watch them in time, may not be watched after so many years – how many times have I come across this when they asked me if I watched such and such a movie classic, and at the same time it turned out that for some reason I didn’t watch it. I tried to look – a bummer, it does not go in any way.

But, however, there are also reverse examples: I met old films that I first watched more than a dozen years after their release, and I really liked them.

These films, of course, include “The Adventure of Picasso”: a picture that made a splash in Sweden itself in the year of release – it received the award as the “Best Film of the Year” and the “Main Prize” of the Swedish Film Academy “Gold Bug”.

As far as this film is known in the world – I do not have exact information, but it is known that it was very popular in Hungary, where the Swedish actor Josta Ekman, who played the main role in the film, was recognized on the street when he arrived in Budapest.

By the way, the idea of ​​the film was born from Josta Ekman himself – this is a very famous comedian in Sweden. (However, I note that he also played dramatic roles – for example, police commissioner Martin Beck in the film adaptations of police detectives Per Vale and May Chevalle.) He first decided to script a film guide to places he himself had never been (then I have to show all sorts of clichés), but then I thought that it would be even more interesting to make a biography of some real person, but in a kind of buffoonery vein, where you can beat some real facts of his biography and mix them with outright fiction.

It was originally planned to make a film about Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, but the great composer lived, as you know, for a very short time, so, as the screenwriters said, there was not enough material for them, and then Ekman and two other screenwriters Hans Alfredson and Tage Danielsson decided to make a film about Picasso, who lived for 91 years and about whose life quite a lot is known.

In the film – “as if” – they speak several languages: Spanish, French, English, Italian, United Statesn, German, Norwegian and Latin. But the only normal language spoken there is voice-over English (in different versions of the film it was Swedish, Danish, Norwegian and French), and all the other languages ​​spoken by the characters in the film are just as funny a madhouse as that. what is actually happening on the screen: basically, these “languages” are jerky words, moreover, often borrowed from other languages.

For example, the “Spanish” they speak is not Spanish at all, but just some words from Spanish, which are also heavily mixed with Italian words. (Apparently to emphasize certain real Italian roots of Picasso’s mother.) The “United Statesn” spoken by Diaghilev in the film (Diaghilev himself, of course, in a kumach shirt with an astrakhan cape and an astrakhan hat) is more like Czech, and the only the phrase in Swedish in the Swedish film (apart from the narration in the Swedish version) is when Picasso’s dad, don José Ruiz Blasco (he plays a big role in the film, despite dying of a heart attack at the very beginning of the film) picks up the phone and says: “Hur fan ska jag veta det?” (What the hell am I supposed to know.)

There is also a joke when Don José, during the occupation of France, becomes an important SS rank (this does not even happen in this film) and receives the title “Hauptbahnhof”, which in German means the central station, and instead of “Heil Hitler” he shouts “Halvliter” is Swedish for half a litre.

This whole film is a frank buffoonery, where real historical figures and the real work of Pablo Picasso are mixed with cheerful chizuha, like how art was banned in America at the beginning of the century, along with alcohol, as a result of which Picasso was executed (unsuccessfully) on an electric for an underground gangster exhibition of paintings. chair, and how don José turned his son’s work into mass art to earn huge amounts of money.

“Nuts” at the same time went to everyone. In addition to Picasso and his father (Jose Ruiz Blasco was actually an art teacher and played a big role in the development of Pablo), the American writer Gertrude Stein, whose apartment in Paris on Rue Fleurus was one of the main centers of artistic and literary life in Paris until World War I and during it (Ernest Hemingway often visited her and wrote about Gertrude in the book “A Holiday That Is Always With You”), Gertrude’s friend Alice Toklas, many artists of that time and not only that time – Matisse, Rousseau, van Gogh, Toulouse and Lautrec (they are twins here), and the creators of the picture calmly put Rembrandt, who lived only in the 17th century, into the Parisian crowd – they did this there repeatedly.

It’s amazing how rich the imagination of the scriptwriters is: the film is very diverse and some episodes there are replaced by episodes in a completely different style. Of the most iconic: Picasso’s studies in an overly academic institution in Madrid (on the stage with the model, Bublik and I laughed out loud), a costume party in honor of Henri Rousseau (he was introduced here as a “customs officer prone to drawing”, which, by the way, is pure truth) , Picasso’s acquaintance with the millionaire Ingrid Svensson Guggenheim and their relationship (the millionaire was very persistent, as they usually are), creating scenery for the Diaghilev ballet, a trip to America, helping the participants of the French La Resistance in Paris and much more.

The episodes with the singer Mademoiselle Sirka (I did not find that such a person existed in reality: most likely, she was invented to illustrate the appearance of the monstrous style) are also very interesting. Moreover, this famous song of Sirka, which she sings without stopping, is actually sung in Finnish and is a recipe for a pie with fish and bacon: “First take water, salt, then butter and flour, and knead, knead, knead. Then take the fish and the bacon and put it on the dough, honey. Put it in the oven to bake and forget for a while. Start again and knead, knead, knead.”

With the Diaghilev ballet and ballerina Olga Khokhlova (in fact, Olga became the wife of Pablo Picasso and was such for 14 years, but when she left him after Picasso’s mistress had a child, she formally remained his wife until her death in 1955 ) here the decision was strange. Cubist costumes are incredibly spectacular, and they were clearly created, focusing on what costumes Picasso himself created for Diaghilev’s United Statesn Seasons), but why they brought certain elements of flatulence into the performance itself was completely incomprehensible to me. This is the only thing that surprised me in this film – in my opinion, it was somehow completely superfluous.

There are many interesting absurdist finds in the film (such as, for example, the departure of a steam locomotive from the platform), which are somewhat reminiscent of the films of the Zucker brothers (they are, of course, Zakkers) and Abrahams: it seems that these directors watched this picture and learned from it some ideas that they, of course, did not copy, but creatively reworked.

In short, I really liked it, that’s just extremely! I love this shizuha! Of these films, one can recall the same films by the Zakkers – Abrahams, the wonderful film by Ivan Dykhovichny “Europe – Asia”, “I’m Very Excited” by Pedro Almodovar, well, there were many other films that simply do not immediately come to mind.

The fact that this film was made forty-three years ago does not say much about anything: I just watched it now and was delighted with it.

Will you be delighted with it? Not a fact at all. First of all, not everyone likes such buffoonery shizuha, but I love them very much. In addition, here you still need to have, so to speak, some cultural background, that is, to understand who, generally speaking, the conversation is about. Because if you don’t know who Gertrude Stein is and what she meant to the Parisian bohemian party of those times, then it will not be very clear what the humor is. But, however, even without this, it seems to me, it should still look funny.

Where to get? This film was not licensed in United States. But it can be found in famous places, where it is with a United Statesn one-voice over, translating the voice of the narrator, as well as in the form of DVD9 with the original track and United Statesn subtitles (crooked, but you can watch).

PS Real costumes created by Picasso for ballet.

Picassos äventyr / The Adventures of Picasso movie review

Director: Tage Danielsson Cast: Josta Ekman, Hans Alfredson, Margareta Kroc, Lena Ohlin, Bernard Cribbins, Wilfried Brambell, Lennart Nyman, Per Oscarsson, Elisabeth Söderström, Gesta Winberg

Surrealist comedy, Sweden, 1978, 115 min.

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