Peter Watkins
1994. Sweden. vo Swedish. s French. 270’

‘THE FREETHINKER' was originally conceived under the title ‘August Strindberg’ as a full-length feature film which I was commissioned to make by the Swedish Film Institute and the Swedish TV in the late 1970s. The result, a four-and-a-half hour film entitled ‘The Freethinker’, is based on the original manuscript, with many new scenes and important facets developed by the students themselves, who researched, directed, filmed, recorded, edited, costumed and principally organized the production and funding of this major pedagogical project! Among many aspects of the high standard of work by these students, was their research into social conditions in Sweden during the 1870s. ‘The Freethinker’ endeavours to show: a) how non-orthodox filmic language forms can expand our view of history, and our way of relating to people on the screen, and to each other b) that there are ways to produce audio-visual material other than according to the rigidly centralized methods used by the MAVM c) that, contrary to what we see on TV, there are potentially alternative processes for viewers as well - through which they can become individual participants instead of hierarchically dominated, passive receivers.