Three Scottish officers, including Sir Archi, murder Sir Arne and his household for a coffin filled with gold. The only survivor is Elsalill, who moves to relatives in Marstrand. There she ...
See full summary »
Terje Vigen, a sailor, suffers the loss of his family through the cruelty of another man. Years later, when his enemy's family finds itself dependent on Terje's beneficence, Terje must ... See full summary »
A stranger comes to work at widow Halla's farm. Halla and the stranger fall in love, but when he is revealed as Eyvind, an escaped thief forced into crime by his family's starvation, they ... See full summary »
Gösta Berling is a young and attractive minister. Because he is an alcoholic and his preaches are far too daring, he is finally defrocked. He leaves the town in disgrace and arrives at ... See full summary »
EROTIKON surely pushed the boundaries of what was acceptable on the screen in 1920: Irene, the bored wife of a distracted entomologist, pursues a womanizing aviator, but she may actually be... See full summary »
It's New Year's Eve. Three drunkards evoke a legend. The legend tells that the last person to die in a year, if he is a great sinner, will have to drive during the whole year the Phantom ... See full summary »
The judge in a Danish town sees his illegitimate daughter facing a trial for the murder of her newborn child, and is rather sure that she will be sentenced to death. She became pregnant ... See full summary »
Carl Theodor Dreyer
Three centuries before Christus. Young Cabiria is kidnapped by some pirates during one eruption of the Etna. She is sold as a slave in Carthage, and as she is just going to be sacrificed to... See full summary »
A poor student rescues a beautiful countess and soon becomes obsessed with her. A sorcerer makes a deal with the young man to give him fabulous wealth and anything he wants, if he will sign... See full summary »
A young man is elected by a small village to be its parson. As part of his duties, he is required to marry the widow of the parson before him. This poses two problems--first, the widow is ... See full summary »
Three Scottish officers, including Sir Archi, murder Sir Arne and his household for a coffin filled with gold. The only survivor is Elsalill, who moves to relatives in Marstrand. There she meets a charming young officer - Sir Archi, and she soon understands that he was one of the murderers. She is in a classic dilemma between her love for Sir Archi and justice. Written by
SIR ARNE'S TREASURE (Mauritz Stiller, 1919) ***1/2
As far as I can tell, this is the first Swedish Silent that I've watched (I'd previously been intrigued by a solitary still actually used for the DVD sleeve itself found in "The Movie", a British periodical from the early 1980s); I've seen a handful of early efforts from neighboring Denmark and the aesthetic starkness in the predominant style of both countries is pretty similar. It's also the first from Swedish master Stiller (I also own his two other well-known titles, EROTIKON  and THE SAGA OF GOSTA BERLING , that were released on DVD from Kino and I may very well include the latter in my current Epic/Historical films schedule); incidentally, I've only checked out and was duly impressed by two American-made pictures from Victor Sjostrom, the other great director to emanate from this country during the Silent era.
SIR ARNE'S TREASURE is best described as a historical melodrama since the elements typically expected of an epic only really come into play in the scenes involving a fire early on and a sword-fight towards the end. However, one shouldn't overlook the vast and forbidding icy landscape which not only serves as an extremely realistic backdrop to the narrative incidentally, the quality of the cinematography throughout likens the film to an uninterrupted series of medieval tableaux but is very much another character in it, since the villains' flight (the perpetrators of a massacre in a household, from which they also abscond with the titular fortune) is prohibited because the sea has frozen over! Notable scenes here include: a cart-wheeling horse falling head-first through cracked ice; the youngest of the thieves having ghostly visions of one of his murdered victims (as it happens, he later falls for the girl's sister and she with him, which leads to the latter being torn whether to give her lover away or run off with him to Scotland!); the leading man ultimately using the heroine as a human shield against the oncoming soldiers; the closing procession over the ice by the townsfolk to reclaim the girl's dead body (justly considered one of the visual highlights in all of Silent cinema).
The plot also effectively incorporates the element of premonition such as when the fish-hawker's usually docile canine companion senses impending doom and starts to howl, Sir Arne's wife literally hearing from miles away the preparations for the subsequent assault on her abode, the ship captain's tale of a previous case of poetic justice similarly brought on by severe weather conditions, and the heroine being led by her dead sister to the villains' whereabouts in a dream. The print I watched featured nice use of blue (for outdoor night-time scenes) and red (the afore-mentioned blaze) tinting; the newly-composed accompanying score is appropriately sweeping, albeit making use of mostly modern instruments. The main extras on the Kino DVD involve noted film historian Peter Cowie, who supplies an informative background to early Swedish cinema (where he also discusses the seminal contribution of authoress Selma Lagerlof who was behind the source novel of both this and THE SAGA OF GOSTA BERLING) and, in a separate featurette, focuses exclusively on the film at hand.
6 of 9 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?