”One of the last great samurai who unyieldingly fights for ideals
and convictions. In our ‘heavy industry’ there aren’t many like him.”

Ingmar Bergman

Tiden Har Inget Namn

Tiden har inget namn

Filmen skildrar småbrukarparet Teodor och Asta Svensson i Valleberga på slätten strax öster om Ystad genom olika årstider. Filmen saknar nästan helt dialog och i stället talar bilderna för sig själva.

”Det är verklighetspoesi. Det är en dröm om ett sätt att leva. Det är Stefan Jarls julevengelium.”
/Hanserik Hjertén, DN

”Enkelt rent och vackert”
/Bernt Eklund, Expressen

”Filmen är ett intagande och kärleksfullt porträtt och bilderna dröjer sig kvar på näthinnan som affischer.”
Jan Pettersson, AB


Time Has No Name

Taking its stylistic inspiration from Rembrandt, the film captures the lives of an elderly farmer couple, Teodor and Asta Svensson, who are the last of their breed. Inspired by Peter Watkin’s comment that no shot on American TV lasts longer man seven seconds, Jarl decided to make a film where no shot lasts less than seven seconds! Ironically subtitled ”A Contribution to Anthropological Research”. To live and work in harmony with nature will shortly no longer be possible. Time Has No Name is probably the documentary in which Stefan Jarl has attained the highest results with sound and photography. So high that someone has called the film the poetry of reality.

An excellent film with excellent cinematography.”
/Nestor Almendros, Oscar-winning cinematographer

It´s a sad and lovely film, whose tacit plea is for a recognition of life’s wholeness over the brutality of economics.”
/Los Angeles Times


Titel: Tiden har inget namn
(Time Has No Name)
Regi: Stefan Jarl
Foto: Per Källberg
Klipp: Anette Lykke Lundberg
Musik: Ulf Dageby
Längd: 61 min
Premiär: 1989
Format: 35 mm, 1:1,66

Utmärkelser: Guldbagge

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Stefan Jarl on quality

From his book “Visions in Swedish film – what´s become of it”.

“Time has no name” (1989) is the most exclusive film I´ve done. It hasn´t been seen by many people. The film in principle concist only of pictures and sound, stereo sound. The purpose is
to pull the audience into the world that the film´s small farmer lives in. I traveled to Japan with this film to a festival: Japan, stereo´s home country. Imagine my surprise when the enormous movie theatre´s sound system wasn´t stereo. Of course I was irritated and told the organiser that the film is constructed around its sound and now I´ve come here from the other side of the earth only to find that the film isn´t going to work… Well, before the film was shown, I was introduced from the stage, and when I got everyone´s attention, of course I had to inform the large audience that unfortunately… Then a number of Japanese rushed forward from both sides and dragged from the stage. They pointed at a large mixer board behind which a smiling sound technician was sitting and adjusting the levels. At the same time, the film started on the screen and slowly I understood that it was being shown with stereo sound.

From the time I had complained about the lack of stereo sound in the afternoon to the evening´s showing, they had rebuilt the whole movie theatre! New projectors had been brouht in. Four channel stereospeakers had been installed, a mixing board had been rented and the film was shown in all technical brilliance. Afterwards, one of my favorite cinematographers rushed forward and congratulated me: “An unbelievable film with unbelievable photography!” That was Nestor Almendros, one of the world´s best cinematographers. Unfortunately, dead before his time.
I was very glad, naturally, but discover that I´m trapped in a corner of the theatre. In front of me, 200 small Japanese men in suits are standing, all of them looking at me and bowing. Just bowing and bowing. What do they want from me? I look around, confused, not an organiser anywhere to be seen. I´ve read somewhere about the politeness of the Japanese people, so I start bowing too. We are standing there bowing, to each other , 200 Japanese men and I. Then, thank heavens, I see my interpreter come in. I beg her to explain to me what´s happening. She found out and then told me in English that these men are small farmers, just like the film´s main character . They were bussed in by the festival to see the movie.

“Their spokesman would like to deliver a message from the group of men,” declares my interpreter.
“Aha…And what would that be?”
“Yes, they would like to say that this film is the first film they´ve ever seen that completely expresses the Japanese farmer´s fears of the future!”
That´s when I became glad that I was trapped in a corner because I´m getting a little dizzy and I have to lean against the wall. I bow and ask my interpreter to translate my deeply felt thankfulness. Then the men smile and bow even lower.
Home again, I run into a colleague at the Swedish Filminstitute, whom I try to avoid, but unluckily enough I run in to him at the entrance.
“Yeah, your last film went to hell, didn´t it? There weren´t so many thousand who saw it,” he says.
“No, but I have soothed 200 Japanese men´s anxiety,” I say and walk away.
What I´m trying to say is that quality – because that´s what this is about – can also be a value that has nothing to do with the Market.

Interview with Gunnar Bergdahl

A contribution to research in anthropology

”When I was shooting THREAT, my last previous film, a Lapp man said to me one day: ‘So you’ve got a watch – throw it away! Up here we live by Lappish time: I the n got an idea for a film I wanted to make. A film about time, or more accurately, about time that doesn’t exist. A film which would be called TIME HAS NO NAME.

A DECENT LIFE began with a Brueghel painting. There is a perma-nent line running through all my films that concerns’ precisely this. From THEY CALL US MISFITS to TRANS-FORM SWEDEN and through A DE-CENT LIFE to THREAT and now, TIME HAS NO NAME. Each of them is a kind of filmatic Brueghel painting. When you look at one of his paintings today you understand how it felt to walk through a field and harvest grain hundreds of years ago. You sense ex-actly how people lived. Time disap-pears. His paintings are simultaneous-ly frightening and alive. He is an artist really worthy of emulation.

The things that are worth knowing about man today have nothing to do with fashionable trends. Stockmarket reports tell us nothing about people’s lives. It is the task of art then to distill and project what we have in common with people who lived before us and people who now inhabit another as-pect of reality than we do ourselves.

Superficially this film concerns an old farmer and his relationship to ani-mals and nature and the society in which he lives. It is a portrait of an old man and his intense experience of our society’s downtrodden. By portraying his world I also portray our own. I live in the city, but I can share his life-space and see that his experiences are also mine. ‘
I believe there is a collective mem-ory, that we have very much in com-mon with those people who are now dead and buried. Art is our only means of utilizing this accumulated experi-ence, which we need to understand our lives today.”
Stefan Jarl makes his films in the spirit and tradition of rebellion. There is no compromise nor simple appeal to popular tastes in his approach. Acute social criticism vibrates through all his films. The descent into hell via cracks in the welfare society in A Decent Life, the Lapp woman’s straight-forward and moving statement of never again being able to fish in harmony and una-nimity with nature, which the invisible nuclear fallout from Chernobyl poi-soned forever, in Threat.

We confront our world in Stefan Jarl’s films, without the foggy curtain of the politicians, the dismissive deni-als of bureaucrats, with out our own blinkers. Nothing remains except the monstrous pictures on the silver screen – and our own conscience, our thoughts about life. Like a spearhead puncturing assumed Swedish reali-ties, his films are an instrument con-veying to us greater awareness, in-sights that enable us to resist. The Brueghel painting, the segment of reality, the ”timeless” with no name.
Stefan’s films provide us with a hook on which to fasten our private safety lines. They give us reason to hope, resist and live.
From an interview with GUNNAR BERGDAHL

”Stefan Jarl demonstrates with each passing year that he must be numbered among the world´s major documentarists”. Film Guide International

Article by Mats Nilsson

It was perfectly logical for Stefan Jarl to make the feature film Good People (Goda människor) after Time Has No Name, for in this hour-long sacred hymn to the last farmer and his passage out of history he has truly reached the limits of what it is possible, to do with a documentary film.

If a documentary film may justifiably be called a work of art, and if by calling it such one wishes to draw parallels with the graphic arts, then Jarl has gone as far as one can go in every respect as far as Time Has No Name is concerned. The long shot of the old man’s farm, a few minutes into the mm, is nothing less than old Rembrandt, transposed to the screen.

The long shots in the film and the obvious unwillingness to cut to a new image too often, is based on good old Jarlian contrariness. On several occasions, and with great fervour, he has referred to a meeting which he had with the British documentary film maker Peter Watkins (War Games etc.) He told Jarl that the results of a study (which he had carried out), showed that no shot on American television lasted longer than seven seconds. This fact fired Jarl’s imagination. Obviously he was going to make a film in which there wasn’t a single shot under seven seconds!

Initially, Jarl was thinking in terms of a short f1lm which would be approximately 15 minutes long. But while he was f1lming he

Rea1ized that what was unfolding in front of his eyes was a gigantic contemporary drama. At the same time an enormous doubt made its presence felt: dramas like this are being played out everywhere, a thousand times a day. Why should he f1lm this one?

Having sporadically filmed the old couple, Teodor and Asta Svensson, for a year or so, the idea began to grow of depicting Time on film. This was something he had long been interested in. He realized that given his material, he would be able to portray both outer time, the purely objective time which one can see on the clock, while contrasting this with the inner time which has its own clock and which can sometimes come to a complete stop.

In all his films, Jarl has consciously tried to attain dialectic. Everything is seen more clearly when it is illuminated by its opposite. Time Has No Name is entirely based upon a dialectical method. Dawn is followed by night, spring by winter, light by dark and life with death.

The film opens with a sunrise which lasts almost five minutes. The waves rhythmically beat against the shore, everything is calm. Ulf Dageby’s music swells: meditative, peaceful, intimate and somewhat elegiac. Classical pure sounds which bring us to a state of rest and rock us into the tempo of the film’s narrative. This is the birth of creation.

In the final scene of the film the sea is there once again, but this time it is night. The waters are black and are all but invisible until the nearby lighthouse shines its restless beams out over the billowing, black depths. The apocalypse is not imminent, but we feel warned, threatened.

Even the old farmer wastes slowly away during the course of the film. In a scene near the end, we seen him inside the barn. The pale winter light makes him appear to be almost transparent while the wind of a gathering snowstorm howls outside. A few scenes earlier we saw a car driving towards the village church, so that suddenly we no longer feel certain. . .

It is quite fascinating to see how Stefan Jarl’s limited yet subtle methods manage to dramatize and disturb this world, which on the surface appears to be completely still. With the poetry of his images and the magic of montage he even manages to make us doubt that the farmer is still with us.

Critics of Stefan Jarl have suggested that in Time Has No Name he favours a return to the wooden plough (the same criticism was levelled at him conceming Nature’s Revenge). I feel that this is a very superficial view of the f1lm. Jarl himself emphasizes the importance of being familiar with one’s national and cultural identity. Time Has No Name indicates that the plant has lost touch with its roots, that there is a lack of understanding and relationship. The film’s ironic subtitle: ”A contribution to anthropological research” also reveals something of this.

Jarl also talks about the collective memory: that we have more in common than we realise with those who are already interred. He naturally sees the farmer in the film as an exponent and bearer of the collective memory, one of the last of his race, on his way out of contemporary life.

Time Has No Name is, like Jarl’s earlier films, a film of resistance. But this time the movements are less sweeping, the tone not so editorial. He observes the large perspective from the small, reality from one small comer of it.

/Mats Nilsson

Film journalist and author of the book Rebel in reality-Stefan Jarl and His Films. (Rebell i verkligheten-Stefan Jarl och hans filmer) Filmkonst nr 7/Filmbiblioteket nr 1-1991