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Classic Swedish film represents a direction later film making could effectively have followed.
It is extraordinary that this amazing film is not repeatedly shown. It is possibly the best demonstration of the genius (not an assessment to make casually) of Sjöstrom - with David Griffiths, the first person to demonstrate his brilliance by making films.
The film's aware mix of the naive vision of the ancestors sitting in the lodge in heaven, which Sjöstrom's character reaches by climbing a ladder to the clouds, and the grim, realist material of the unfaithful wife's child, alone would make it outstanding but finding this at a stage where it had virtually nothing in the way of antecedent is staggering.
Modern prints may not do justice to the sophistication of the film making. The performances do survive un-dimmed. Curious that Sjöstrom was able to take his mastery to Hollywood when the Scandinavian industry faltered but not to survive the challenge of sound - something which remains a mystery that could stand investigation.
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