The Outlaw and His Wife (1918)
A masterpiece of the Swedish silent cinema, Victor Sjostrom's The Outlaw and His Wife is a film of remarkable psychological complexity, which bore a profound influence on the work of Ingmar Bergman and Carl Theodor Dreyer.
When a mysterious stranger (played by Sjostrom) is hired on at a farm by its widowed owner (Edith Erastoff, who would later become Sjostrom's wife), a romantic bond quickly forms. But the man's troubled past foils their chances at happiness, and forces them to seek refuge in the nearby mountains. Sjostrom's masterful use of landscape is visually and dramatically stunning, particularly in the film's latter half, as the couple battles both their pursuers and nature itself, culminating in an unforgettable climax.
A Man There Was (1917, 53 min.)
Based on an epic poem by Henrik Ibsen, A Man There Was (Terje Vigen) is commonly cited as the film that launched Sweden's first golden age of filmmaking. Set during the Napoleonic Wars, it tells the story of a fisherman so desperate to obtain food for his starving family that he tries to break through a British blockade, only to find himself at the mercy of extraordinary forces.
Victor Sjöström, who not only directs but also plays the leading role, was renowned for his ability to exploit Swedens incredible locations. A Man There Was is no exception, and Julius Jaenzon's cinematography stunningly captures the harsh, unforgiving quality of the ever-present sea. Critic Andrew Sarris once speculated, It is possible that Victor Sjöström was the world's first great director, even before Chaplin and Griffith. Sjöström would later have a notable career in Hollywood, directing Lillian Gish in such silent classics as The Scarlet Letter and The Wind.
Ingeborg Holm (1913, 72 min.)
This heartbreaking drama traces the desperate journey of a widowed young mother who finds herself at the mercy of an apathetic social system which is all too willing to separate her from her children. The first significant work by Victor Sjöström, Ingeborg Holm establishes the director as an artist eager to test the visual and psychological boundaries of the emerging cinema, while showcasing a powerful central performance by Hilda Borgstrom.
One admirer of the film was Ingmar Bergman, who asserted, Ingeborg Holm is still true and gripping. In an interview, he called it, "One of the most remarkable films ever made." Of course, Bergman would famously repay his respect for Sjöström by casting him in the lead role in his classic Wild Strawberries.
Kino: Victor Sjostrom Early Silents in July
Posted by David K. at 5/22/2008 05:12:00 PM