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William S. Hart,
William S. Hart,
A Sarcastic, Skillful Comedy Absolutely Brilliant In Its Style
Frau Bessie is a Swedish, madcap und aristocratic fraulein, too modernen for German aristocrat parameters certainly because she leaps at the occasion of running away from home in order to live thrilling adventures away from her rich parents. In the city, Frau Bessie will meet an uninspired writer, Herr Thomas Graal, who will hire her as his personal secretary and soon become fatally attracted to her.
"Thomas Graals Bästa Film" ( Thomas Graal's Best Film ) (1917) is a good example of the early film mastery achieved by the great Swedish director, Herr Mauritz Stiller; the film is a sarcastic, skillful comedy absolutely brilliant in its style and with a very funny story.
The film depicts the Swedish idle aristocratic life of Frau Bessie and her parents who, like other European aristocrats, spend most of their time doing nothing ( this can be hard work and requires years of experience and practice to achieve excellence in these matters, ja wohl! ) . However, Herr Graals's commoner life is equally idle since he lacks inspiration and prefers wool-gathering ( a shameful habit this for a commoner, neglecting his duties and obligations! ); thus the different social classes are caricatured and satirized in a hilarious way in many sequences in the film.
Frau Bessie is a cathartic character who abandons tranquillity to become an independent fraulein who makes her own decisions and will influence the people around her. She comes to terms with her parents about her new life and inspires Herr Graal to do a film script about her adventures (even though we know she's often lying about them).
The film narrative is brilliant; Herr Stiller intertwines fiction (Herr Graal's script) and reality on many levels in an excellent job of editing. It's a tricky balancing act that only great directors can succeed at. An added bonus, in addition to the many outdoor settings, is the look at the early film business and filmmaking (which adds still another dimension to the back and forth between the real and the imaginary).
The film stars Herr Victor Sjöström (later to become a great director himself) and Frau Karin Molander, who will work closely with both Sjöström and Stiller. So much talent explains why early Swedish silent films were so inventive and ahead of their time
And now, if you'll allow me, I must temporarily take my leave because this German Count must prevent modernen aristocratic Swedish frauleins from entering through the Schloss gates.
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