An elegant pirouette of a film, Erotikon is Stiller’s most well-known comedy and was considered sensational at the time because of its lack of inhibitions and its risque innuendoes. Irene (Tora Teje), the wife of an absent-minded professor of entomology, is courted by a young sculptor (Lars Hanson) and the pompous Baron Felix. The elaborate antics of these characters are put in their proper perspective at the start of the film with the unfortunate husband delivering a lecture on the bigamous habits of the ‘Striver’ beetle. Like Stiller’s other comedies, Erotikon derives its humour from the mutual distrust among the leading characters. The sculptor is terrified that Irene has been unfaithful to him (no one minds about the bumbling professor), and it transpires that she has been tormented by the fear that he had been unfaithful to her. At nearly every point in the film Stiller delights in sidestepping the rules of polite society. Far from decrying the depravity of the upper classes, he seems to endorse their sly disregard for decorum.
Sweden, 1920.
English titles.
Black and white.
85 mins.

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