Like most silent film fans I had endured the bad, dupey, chopped-up 90m version of this film on VHS and wondered why it has such a famous reputation. Thank goodness for KINO & the Swedish Film Institute for finally making this 184m version available in a beautiful print with a complimentary musical score. This film reminds me of a silent version of WAR & PEACE meets GONE WITH THE WIND in its size and scope with elements of Shakespeare-like plot twists. An alternative title actually sets up the story better, "The Atonement of Gosta Berling." SPOILERS: The narrative opens during a drunken party where the star, Lars Hanson (best known as Lillian Gish's costar in THE WIND, 1928), is sharing the story of his downfall with his friends. In flashback, we see Gosta (Hanson) as an unsure priest with a drinking problem being defrocked in an embarrassing public scene. Shamed, he is later hired by an unscrupulous and wealthy woman to be a tutor to her step-daughter. Secretly the "Noble" woman hopes the two will marry and thus revoke the step-daughter's right to inherit her father's estate by hooking up with the commoner, making the way clear for her foppish son to earn the inheritance. There is another grand dame in our plot at the nearby Ekeby estate, run by the head-strong matron Margaretha Samzelius (Gerda Lundequist) in a larger-than-life performance that reminded me of Louise Dresser in THE SCARLET EMPRESS. She takes in outcasts and calls them her "Knights," inspiring respect from almost all who know her. I loved the way she commands attention, but when she is broken and has to ask her mother to remove a curse put upon her in her youth, the rebuke she gets breaks your heart. Nearly one third of the way through the story, we are introduced to a very young Greta Garbo. Her role starts out small but becomes very important in the ending resolution. Filled with wonderful, nuanced performances by all the actors in the diverse and large cast. Amazingly, there are many on-location outdoor shots and outstanding scenes including an out-of-control fire that destroys a huge estate (reminding me of a similar incident in Hitchcock's REBECCA) and a long chase scene of a horse-drawn sleigh by wolves across a huge frozen lake, filmed at night that must be seen to be believed! Now that this grand epic has finally been released as it was meant to be seen, it will be re-discovered by silent film fans around the globe as they share this masterpiece with their friends. To sum it up, this is the film I have been waiting for to give film preservation its annual shot-in-the arm! Two years ago it was the uncensored BABY FACE; last year the lost film KIKI (Norma Talmadge version) was finally restored, and for 2006 it will be "The Atonement of Gosta Berling."