|Index||7 reviews in total|
13 out of 14 people found the following review useful:
A landmark in film history., 22 May 2001
Author: Alice Liddel (-email@example.com) from dublin, ireland
It is a truism that Victor Sjostrom's films dramatise the conflict between
nature and society, but his treatment is less simplistic than might be first
apparent. For instance, society in 'The Outlaw and his Wife' is ruled by a
brutal, land-grabbing Bailiff who whips servants for losing a sheep; but it
is also a place rich in pageantry, costume and rite, where communities can
Similarly, nature might be a site of freedom for social outsiders, a sustaining idyll for lovers, and an awe-inspiring backdrop, but it also overflows in the lonely vagrant who comes close to rape, or the cliff and snows that can kill.
Throughout Sjostrom shifts impressively between registers - nature as both real presence and symbolic backdrop; plot as both social depiction and spiritual journey - while retaining familiar action pleasures.
6 out of 8 people found the following review useful:
Victor Sjöström builds on his growing reputation, 13 February 2007
Author: wmorrow59 from Westchester County, NY
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Although this film is set in 18th century Sweden and was produced in
that country by Victor Sjöström, it unfolds very much like the sort of
dark, gritty Westerns William S. Hart was making concurrently in
California. With only minor alterations in detail BERG-EJVIND OCH HANS
HUSTRU (known as "The Outlaw and His Wife" in America) could have been
a characteristic Bill Hart scenario, one that could have been remade in
the 1950s by Anthony Mann as one of his brooding "adult" Westerns. Key
story elements will certainly feel familiar to fans of the genre. The
plot concerns a stranger with a possibly criminal past who arrives in
an isolated community, where he lands a job as a laborer on a farm
owned by a wealthy widow. The widow has spurned the advances of the
local bailiff, whom she despises, but she is quickly drawn to her new
employee despite the disturbing rumors about his background. The
relationship between the widow and the stranger blossoms at a harvest
celebration, but at the height of the party he is confronted by the
bailiff with accusations and forced to defend his honor. We later learn
that, like Hugo's Jean Valjean, he stole only to feed his starving
family, later escaped from confinement, and has been persecuted ever
since. Soon after, with the law hot on his heels, the outlaw and the
widow throw in their lot together and head for the hills, where an
eventual confrontation between the outlaw and the bailiff ends in
There are no saloons or cowboy hats here; where clothing is concerned the quaint costumes of this film may remind American viewers of the earliest settlers of New England. But whatever the time period or setting we can appreciate the elemental struggle of a wronged man to attain justice in an unjust world. And as in the great Westerns of Hart, Thomas Ince, John Ford, etc., natural landscapes are used to full advantage, especially in the mountain scenes. What makes Victor Sjöström's film specifically Scandinavian is a sense of fatalism bordering on the mystical: we're told that no matter how fast a man can run, he can't escape his fate, and that is certainly the crux of the matter where the "outlaw" Berg-Ejvind is concerned. Sjöström himself played this part in the stage version of this material and repeated it in the movie, while the role of the widow Halla was taken by his real-life spouse, Edith Erastoff. Their relationship is the heart of the story. In their early scenes together it's implied that the outlaw may be taking advantage of the widow to gain her property. A servant girl who works on the farm, younger and prettier than her mistress, taunts the newcomer that he would respond to her differently if she were the owner. But it gradually becomes clear that the outlaw's love for the widow is passionately sincere (which may surprise some viewers in light of Halla's rather matronly appearance). When they take to the hills together they do so in full knowledge that she's giving up her property and that they'll have to live like vagrants, but they do so happily. Halla's philosophy is that love is the only law that matters, and this theme, like Berg-Ejvind's belief about fate, is fully demonstrated in the film's tragic final act.
This movie was the follow-up to Sjöström's 1917 breakthrough feature, TERJE VIGEN, which first gained him international attention. Personally, I prefer the simpler plot and tighter pacing of the earlier film. For me, BERG-EJVIND OCH HANS HUSTRU would have been more effective if the story had unfolded in a shorter span of time. When we're told that the outlaw and his wife have been living in the mountains for years-- long enough to deliver and raise a baby who appears to be about three years old --then discover that they're still in the vicinity of Halla's former property, our credulity is strained. Why haven't they been caught by now? Why does it take the bailiff so many years to track them down? And then, when they're cornered, Halla's sudden sacrifice of their child was inexplicable to me. We might accept this sort of action in an ancient legend or biblical tale, but not in a basically realistic story of this sort. Still, the final scenes have an undeniable (though depressing) impact. I can see why this film enhanced its director's growing stature as a top-flight director.
Scholars and silent film buffs will want to see this drama, and will likely appreciate it. But be forewarned: BERG-EJVIND OCH HANS HUSTRU is impressive, but it's not a feel-good experience.
6 out of 9 people found the following review useful:
Described as the most beautiful picture in the world., 21 January 1999
Author: Jesper Henke (firstname.lastname@example.org) from Umeå
This film was Victor Sjöströms international break-through and it's not hard to understand why. It wasn't the first time Sjöström had used the wild and unpredictable nature as an illustrator or commentator, but this time the scenery and the acting was in the same level of quality. A wonderful piece of art.
3 out of 5 people found the following review useful:
Cruel Nature, 17 May 2005
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
In parts, nature becomes a character in "The Outlaw and His Wife". The aim for right action becomes a struggle between man and cruel nature (physical nature, human nature and the forces of the universe). The dénouement is the prime example. Director Victor Sjöström would do this to even better effect in "The Wind". When nature isn't a central character, the film tends to slip into overdone melodrama. There is some good use of low-key lighting and tinting, but it's not always enough. The plot feels rushed at times, jumping years between scenes. Sjöström's girlfriend throwing the child off the cliff was especially abrupt. When the conflict with nature or the beautiful scenery is prominent, however, the film is ravishing.
1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
Quite well made....and I could have sworn it was Iceland!, 24 May 2011
Author: planktonrules from Bradenton, Florida
It's hard to imagine, but only a few years before this film debuted,
most films were only a few minutes long. And, full-length films really
were a pretty new thing. So, to see a long, complex and cinematic film
like "You and I" shows just how far the industry had grown. Victor
Sjöström plays a man who is on the run from the law. Years earlier,
he'd been sent to prison for stealing a sheep to feed his family and
he'd eventually broken out of a tiny make-shift prison in Iceland. The
film picks up when he's on the run in the interior of the
country--looking for work and hoping no one recognizes him. In the
process, a woman takes him in to work on her farm and eventually the
two fall in love....at about the time the law shows up to claim him.
The two run off together and live in the inhospitable wilds for the
next 17 years (yikes). Exactly what happens is something you'll just
need to see for yourself--but it does have some nice surprises.
The film is well worth seeing mostly for the nice acting and cinematography. Interestingly, in addition to starring in the film, Sjöström directed and co-wrote this film--and the look of the film can clearly be attributed to him. I also appreciate how he was able to recreate the look of Iceland nicely by apparently filming in the middle of no where AND in pretty inhospitable weather. A very good film--and it has some nice things to say about crime and punishment.
6 out of 19 people found the following review useful:
The Kino DVD: Only 70 min., 29 August 2008
Author: sevisan from Spain
Most silent films, damaged by the course of the time, exist in
different versions with different running times, but when a DVD is
released, is supposed to be in the most complete version existing (for
instance, the Flicker Alley DVD of "La roue").
Well, this is not the case with the Kino "The outlaw and his wife". This is a very truncated version and shouldn't have been released in such conditions. Its running time is only 70 minutes, when nowadays exists a 105 min. version that I have seen in the Madrid Filmoteca and in the TV french channel Arte four or five years ago.
The truncated Kino DVD version is, I suppose, the existing in the Kino shelves and released many years ago in VHS. That's very bad. (and the price of the DVD is 27 $ !).
6 out of 33 people found the following review useful:
Crude, boring, pointless saga, 29 March 2002
Author: Arne Andersen (email@example.com) from Putney, VT
I came to this film with great anticipation. The 26th film in Sjostrom's
career, a career spanning 25 years (1912-1937)and 54 films, including such
late silent classics as THE SCARLET LETTER, HE WHO GETS SLAPPED and his
classic, THE WIND. I was bitterly disappointed.
I found the film episodic, pointless, boring and brutal with no point of view. Yes, there are beautiful backdrops of mountain valleys and fjords, but against this is played out a human drama that just doesn't hold together for me.
The plot involves an escaped, falsely convicted thief, who stole out of hunger for his family and who comes to work for a wealthy widow. They fall in love and she makes him steward, to the anger of her brother-in-law, who wants her (and her property) for himself. When the false identity and thievery are discovered the couple flee to the mountains and live the rest of their lives in caves and hovels, seemingly happy but dealing with melodramatic moments (a friend comes to live with them and lusts for the wife, they are discovered by vigilantes so she throws their child off a cliff (duh?????) and runs away with her husband, to be discovered sixteen years later, bitter and at each other's throats, facing a week long blizzard in another hovel.)
Had they not run off but remained within society to face the conflicts inherent midway in the film, it might have been a better script, tighter and with a coherent plot line. What we have here is two films or one short film with an extended epilogue. Nothing about the production was above crudity (elaborate vistas do not cinematography make!).
Coming as it did halfway in his career, it does not show any promise for a man who would later achieve great artistry.
It is interesting that Sjostrom himself plays the lead and his real life wife, the love interest (although having two characters refer to her as exceptionally beautiful when she's as homely as a pig with one ear - is a bit hard to swallow).
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