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Film / The Adventures of Picasso

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Picassos äventyr (The Adventures of Picasso) is a surreal Swedish comedy from 1978 loosely based on the life of Pablo Picasso. It was written by the comedy duo "Hasse Och Tage" (Hans Alfredsson and Tage Danielsson) (directed by the latter), and stars Gösta Ekman in the title role.

This film provides examples of:

  • As Long as It Sounds Foreign: Apart from the Swedish that the narrator speaks and the occasional English sentence, the characters speak pretty much random words and sentences in their respective languages. The French landlady says "Sacre coeur" ("sacred heart") instead of goodbye, and the Finnish cabaret singer performs a seductive song about baking Kalakukko (a traditional Finnish fish-bread).
  • Attention Whore: Sirkka the cabaret singer loves to be the center of attention, interrupting other people's activities with her song "Kalakukko".
  • Big Rotten Apple: The scenes taking place in New York show it as a place where gang violence is common.
  • Biopic: A parody of the genre. The film loosely follows Picasso's life story, but peppers it with absurd, surreal comedy scenes.
  • Butch Lesbian: Gertrude Stein. She looks, sounds and acts very masculine (and is played by a man), and seems to have a thing for her friend Alice B. Toklas. This is actually Truth in Television: the Real Life Gertrude Stein indeed had a lesbian relationship with Alice B. Toklas.
  • Child Prodigy: The young Pablo, kneading a bust out of mashed potatoes.
  • Crosscast Role: Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas are played by the British comedians Bernard Cribbins and Wilfrid Brambell, respectively.
  • Crowd Song: Played for Laughs as everything else, when all people present at a Montmartre café tune in on a La Bohème part, followed by a panning upwards, faking an Astronomic Zoom outwards to cover the entire planet tuning in on it...
  • Culture Police: In America, Prohibition is not about alcohol, but art. Secret galleries work as speakeasies for people who want to see art, and are raided by the police; smugglers bring in paintings and sculpture from Canada, and Picasso gets a job producing, essentially, the art equivalent of moonshine for art-starved Americans.
  • Damsel in Distress: When Picasso meets Dolores, she's attacked by bandits.
  • Doppelgänger Replacement Love Interest: Dolores's granddaughter. Unlike most examples, it's not for supernatural reasons, but thanks to Identical Grandson.
  • Ear Worm: The "Kalakukko" song, sung by the Finnish cabaret singer Sirkka, has an extermely catchy tune that Picasso initially loves, but he eventually gets pretty annoyed by it when she would not stop singing it.
  • Eccentric Artist: Most of the characters are artists (painters, poets, singers and ballet dancers), and pretty much everyone is a Cloudcuckoo Lander.
  • Eiffel Tower Effect: Combined with the California Doubling: the Swedish town Tomelilla doubles for Madrid, Paris, London, and New York, among other places, and a different landmark appears over the very same scenery to show which city the characters are in.
  • Fanservice Extra: The nude model Picasso and his fellow students paint at the art school.
  • Fat and Skinny: There is a duo of background extras, one enormous and one tiny, who appear together in many scenes, always playing different characters.
  • The "Fun" in "Funeral": Don José's funeral gets pretty awkward as he gets rigor mortis when he's sitting up, meaning they need an unusually tall coffin for him. It's still too short and he keeps pushing up the coffin's lid with his head, making any weight they put on it fly at the mourning masses. Then he is revealed to be alive all along.
  • Gainax Ending: The ending scene is just as surreal as the rest of the movie. Tired of his celebrity status, Picasso fakes his own death by sculpting a wax figure looking like his corpse and placing it in his bed. After he's publicly declared dead, he climbs out from under the bed, says goodbye to his paintings, which come to life and wave goodbye back to him, and he sinks into the wall. Roll credits.
  • Gratuitous Foreign Language: The Narrator speaks in Swedish, but the characters speak (often very broken) Spanish, French, English, German, Russian, Finnish and Norwegian. The things they say are regularly out of context, and it provides a lot of Bilingual Bonus if you understand what they are saying.
  • Historical Domain Character: The film is full of these. It loosely follows Pablo Picasso's life, and a lot of his contemporaries also appear in the film, including artists like Georges Braque, Henri Matisse, Fernand Léger, Ernest Hemingway, Guillaume Apollinaire, Henri Rousseau, Vincent van Gogh and no less than two Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, as well as political leaders like Adolf Hitler and Winston Churchill.
  • Hot-Blooded: Picasso's mother, appropriately for a Spanish lady, can lose her temper any minute.
  • Identical Grandson: Dolores and her granddaughter are played by the same acress, Lena Olin. Dolores's granddaughter becomes a Doppelgänger Replacement Love Interest to Picasso.
  • Interactive Narrator: Near the end, the Narrator directly asks questions from Picasso regarding whether he's happy with his life.
  • Love Father, Love Son: Early in the movie, Picasso and Dolores fall in love. Near the end, Picasso falls in love with Dolores's identical granddaughter.
  • May–December Romance: Picasso, at an old age, falls in love with the granddaughter of Dolores.
  • Mind Screw: The whole film is surreal, but some scenes, like the ending, are especially weird.
  • Mood Lighting: The scene at Sirkka's home switches between full-colour and black-and-white as she enters and leaves the room.
  • Paper-Thin Disguise: During World War II, Picasso hides a handful of people from Those Wacky Nazis in his apartment. This includes a man pretending to be a nude model by wearing a mop as a wig and covering his chest with his hands, a woman standing by the wall and holding up a frame pretending she's a picture, a man wearing yellow-black striped clothes and makeup pretending to be a tiger rug, and a man disguised as a Nazi soldier by wearing a makeshift armband with a swastika, a chamber pot as a helmet and a broom as a bayonet. The nazis are completely fooled by it.
  • Sadist Teacher: The art teacher at the Academy abuses his students, giving them an absurdly short time to finish a drawing and then hitting them when they fail to finish it.
  • Shout-Out: The British National Anthem is sung with the following lyrics:
    God save our gracious King,
    God save our noble Kong,
    God save King Kong!
  • Slapstick: Poor Pablo is rather accident-prone.
  • Spicy Latina: Picasso's mother, Doña María, plays up the "temperamental Hispanic woman" stereotype. His first Love Interest Dolores is a little more subdued. They are played by Swedish actresses Margaretha Krook and Lena Olin, respectively.
  • Stalker with a Crush: Ingrid Guggenheim to Picasso.
  • Street Musician: Don José pretends to be a blind street musician after World War I. When he puts down his violin, it goes on playing the tune, then a close-up reveals that it is actually a wind-up music box.
  • Surreal Humor: The film thrives on it, from the sideways-running train to the farting ballet.
  • This Is a Work of Fiction: The film opens with a disclaimer saying so, despite being Very Loosely Based on a True Story, full of Historical Domain Characters.
  • Those Wacky Nazis: Picasso is in France during World War II. He hides a handful of (presumably Jewish) refugees in his apartment, with the Nazis (led by Picasso's father) coming regularly for perquisition. Hilarity Ensues. See it yourself.
  • Toilet Humor: The Russian ballet scene, where the dancers have cauliflower for dinner, turning everyone into a Gasshole.
  • Tsundere: Picasso's mother. She can turn from gentle and loving to fierce and furious and back in seconds. Several times within one scene.
  • Very Loosely Based on a True Story: The film opens with a Lampshade Hanging, claiming that almost everything the audience is going to see is a lie.