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Charles Le Clainche,
Gunnar Hede, a young Swedish man, wants to become a professional musician, but when his father suddenly dies he is pressured by his family to take over the family business, raising and selling reindeer. He doesn't like the business and isn't suited for it, but he gives in and takes over. However, when he is badly injured one day in an accident while driving the herd over the frozen Arctic and sustains some serious head trauma, his family fears that he may be permanently mentally damaged and they may lose both Gunnar and the family business. Written by
This film was recently restored (not digitally) by the Swedish film institute, had its original intertitles reinserted and received colour tinting via filters (hand tinting would have bee desirable but was not cost effective here).
The storyline has an overegging of hysteria even by silent movie standards with both leads waifish, prone to fainting, and racoon-eyed, as was the fashion of the time! The plot is also quite ludicrous. I think the film is important for two reasons though, firstly I think it's interesting to look at the material that influenced of Ingmar Bergman. You can definitely see that here with the travelling artistes that first unite our two sensitive young ones. Secondly, the montage is very good in places, including a painting that comes to life, a nasty dream sequence, and a quite weird animal-phobic hallucination.
Gunnar Hede is frustrated at his existence in the tomb of Munkhyttan, the family pile. Grandad, who he hears stories about was an itinerant fiddler before striking it rich with a dangerous reindeer-importing scheme. Gunnar yearns to emulate his grandfather, but mother will have none of it. The scenes that the movie is famous for show reindeer driving, and includes an astonishing river crossing where the reindeer swim across a wide river, snaking away with the current. Gunnar must earn Munkhyttan and win the girl. That is the movie! It may sound strange but the most touching scene for me was of Ingrid helping Gunnar during a weak moment, it is so rare to see a woman helping a man in a movie. I heard somewhere recently that, "the one thing women will never forgive in a man, is weakness".
One very pretty scene was Gunnar staring at himself in the water, not quite sure how they filmed it, it looked as if I the audience member were staring at my own reflection!
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