Labeled an "insolent romp" in a recent article by The Village Voice and praised for its "risqué wit and cheerful amorality" in John Wakeman's World Film Directors, Erotikon is quite possibly the cinematic granddaddy of all sophisticated comedies and one of the finest achievements of Swedish director Mauritz Stiller.
Erotikon surely pushed the boundaries of what was acceptable on the screen in 1920: Irene, the bored wife of a distracted entomologist, pursues a womanizing aviator, but she may actually be in love with Preben, her husband's best friend. Meanwhile, her husband seems to be getting unusually close with his own niece. Stiller obviously delights in teasing his audience with each scandalous plot twist and every salacious leer, and the result is a deliciously subversive comedy that was very much ahead of its time.
Erotikon has been cited by Ernst Lubitsch as an important inspiration for his own style, and it surely had an influence on Chaplin's A Woman of Paris, Renoir's Rules of the Game and innumerable comedies of the 1930s and beyond. The film stars some of the biggest names of the Swedish silent cinema, including Tora Teje (Karin, Daughter of Ingmar), Karin Molander (Thomas Graal's First Child) and, most notably, Lars Hanson (The Saga of Gösta Berling), who would later relocate to Hollywood and star opposite Lillian Gish in the silent classics The Scarlet Letter and The Wind.
Kino's DVD edition of Erotikon presents the film in a completely remastered version, and it is accompanied by a new score.
"The sublime EROTIKON is one of the screen's first sophisticated sex comedies...modern, uncluttered and marvelously witty." - Dave Kehr, The New York Times