Emil Stjernholm


Theorist, filmmaker, and scholar Gösta Werner (1908–2009) was a Swedish film pioneer who made a lasting impression on the public debate about film as an art form. By studying this influential figure’s texts and films, this dissertation shines light on several key cultural-political conflicts and debates that permeated the emerging Swedish art film institution––from the formation of the study of film to the status of film as art. Despite Werner’s central role in the institutionalization of film culture there has been no in-depth study that scrutinizes his contributions to the field.

My dissertation focuses on Gösta Werner’s career as a theorist and as a filmmaker. The main purpose of this study is to understand Werner’s shifting and contested position within the Swedish film industry. Throughout six decades, Werner directed about 50 films of which a majority were short films. His entry into the film industry was unusual in a Swedish context. During World War II, Werner worked for the Nazi controlled German film company Universum Film AG (Ufa for short) and its Swedish subsidiary AB Ufa-film. Following changes in the Swedish film censorship laws, Ufa decided to start in-house production of a Swedish language newsreel in the fall of 1941. My research shows that Werner worked as a freelance editor of Ufa-journalen (1941–1945), combining the shooting of original footage in Sweden with the editing of images from the war.  While several film scholars have mapped the connections between the German and Swedish film industries in the past, focusing particularly on cultural and economic ties between the two countries, less emphasis has been placed on individual agents and the entangled positions that they occupied. Tracing Werner’s biography, drawing on comprehensive primary sources collected from both private and public archives, this thesis charts the individual actor’s acting space and contextualizes the development of his thinking about cinema, ideology and aesthetics. Taking sociological theories about stigma and different forms of cultural, social and economic capital as a starting point, this dissertation analyzes the discourse surrounding Werner and his filmmaking also in the post-war years. 

Recent research outputs

Emil Stjernholm, 2018, Lund: Mediehistoriskt arkiv. 431 p.

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis (monograph)

Emil Stjernholm, 2017.

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaper, not in proceeding

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