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Film / Sweden: Heaven and Hell

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Sweden: Heaven and Hell (Italian: Svezia, inferno e paradiso) is a 1968 Italian mondo film directed by Luigi Scattini and narrated by British actor Edmund Purdom. As the title implies, the film is a heavily sensationalized portrayal of life in Sweden, with particular focus on the country's liberal attitudes towards sexuality and drug use. The film is best known nowadays for its soundtrack by Piero Umiliani, featuring the debut of the song "Mah Nà Mah Nà", later made famous by The Muppets.


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This film provides examples of the following tropes:

  • All Bikers Are Hells Angels: One of the film's nastier moments involves a biker gang chasing down and sexually assaulting a young woman.
  • Anthology Film: Like most mondo films, this one is a collection of loosely connected segments, in this case focusing on different aspects of life in Sweden.
  • Crapsaccharine World: How the film portrays the titular nation - behind its liberated façade, life in Sweden is shown as empty and unfulfilled, with high rates of suicide, alcoholism, and drug addiction.
  • Crazy Homeless People: A group of drunken homeless people are shown eating shoe polish on bread in one scene.
  • Culture Clash: Arguably the film's central theme, with the Swedes' liberal attitudes towards sex and drugs clashing with the more conservative views of the mostly Italian production team.
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  • Driven to Suicide: Much is made about the titular nation's supposedly high suicide rate. To illustrate this, a young woman is shown jumping to her death in one of the film's "found footage" moments.
  • Ethical Slut: "Ethical" may not exactly be the correct word here given the film's moralistic tone, but the women of the titular nation are nevertheless portrayed as being very casual and nonchalant when it comes to sex.
  • Exploitation Film: Foreign locations, sexy young women, heavy drug use? Check, check, check.
  • Fanservice: Let's face it, the film is really little more than an excuse to show beautiful young Swedish women in various states of undress.
  • Immediate Self-Contradiction: Very frequently the film will show people who are clearly having the time of their life, but the narration will describe them as deeply unhappy.
  • Mondo: The film exhibits many commons genre traits such as the sensational subject matter and staged scenes presented as "found footage".
  • Moral Guardians: The film as a whole has a very moralistic tone, with the narration often betraying barely concealed disgust at the Swedes' casual attitudes towards sex and drug use.
  • A Party, Also Known as an Orgy: One segment involves a pleasure cruise travelling the islands near Stockholm as a group of horny young people drink, have sex, and exchange partners during the trip. The narrator claims these so-called "boat excursions" serve as little more than an excuse for teenage girls to lose their virginity.
  • Sudden Downer Ending: After a mostly frivolous, if rather preachy, journey through life in Sweden (barring a few nasty moments), the film concludes with a somber vignette involving students being trained to live in an underground bunker in the event of the Cold War turning hot.


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