Synopsis by Clarke Fountain
A challenging and powerful adaptation of a novel by Torgny Lindgren, this drama objectively examines the quiet courage of impoverished people whose faith in God's word enables them to uncomplainingly endure the gross injustice inherent in their culture. Set in the 19th century in the rugged countryside of northern Sweden, the tale centers on Tea, a young woman who is forced to submit to the sexual desires of her landlord. Her situation is not unusual for the times, and whether or not the woman was married, it was considered a morally acceptable means of paying the rent in accordance with their interpretation of the Bible. If a woman refused to sleep with her landlord, she and her family would be evicted. The tale is told from her perspective. Tea was a young bride the first time her landlord Ole Karlsa came calling, and upon her return home she finds that her husband has hung himself. Over the years, Tea has borne many of Ole Karlsa's children, none of whom he officially claims. Despite her years of sexual service, she remains poverty-bound, but this has neither stolen her pride nor broken her spirit. She staunchly refuses to allow Ole Karlsa to get close to his illegitimate brood. Eventually the landowner dies and soon afterward his son Karl Orsa comes to collect his "rent." In between visits, Tea finds happiness for the first time in years when she becomes lovers with a romantic wanderer. Her joy is short-lived, for the drifter is arrested for stealing. More trouble comes when Karl Orsa decides that Tea is too old and that her oldest daughter, in accordance with the custom, must take her place. He refuses to listen to Tea's pleas that to sleep with her daughter would be incest, and this sets up a series of tragedies, all of which are stoically borne by Tea, her family and Karl Orsa (who is just as much a victim of culture as the rest).
drifter, incest, landlord, lover, sex, sexual-slavery, suicide