Greta Garbo

Monday, March 6, 2017

Swedish Silent Film

Anne-Kristin Wallengren, for Nordic Academic Press, only indirectly refers to the work of Gosta Werner and the restoration of lost silent film in the article, Welecome Home Mr. Swanson-Swedish Emigrants and Swedishness on Film. "There is the still extant film Storstadfaror (Perils of the Big City, Manne Gothson, 1918), in which a young man goes to America and at the end of the film, returns to Sweden, rich; however, while this was one of the very few films made in the 1910's to show America in a positive light, it is also significant that his was only a supporting role." The film Perils of the Big City was written by Gabrielle Ringertz and photographed by Gustav A. Gustavson. Appearing in the film were Mary Johnson, who would later film under the direction of Mauritz Stiller and actress Agda Bjorkman.
The film apparently was the only film produced at Hasselblad Fotografiska, from its first film in 1915, untill it merged early in 1918 to become Filmindustri Skandia, not to have been directed by George af Klercker, Manne Hothson had previously been Klercker's assistant director. This having be said, scholar Astrid Soderberg Widding points out that Gosta Werner neglects or omits the films made by Af Klercker before he began with Hasselblad, almost to confer with other authors that place Sjostrom and Stiller at the forefront of Swedish Silent Film's Golden Age; Leif Furhammer has advanced that Af Klercker had been an Auteur  only to heighten the comparison that can be made between George Af Klercker and Carl Th. Dreyer, despite Dreyer's having entered directing later and his only having scripted melodramas while searching for adaptations.
     The film 'Mysteriet natter till den 25ie' proves to be more enigmatic than its director. it stars Swedish actress Mary Johnson with Carl Barklind and was photographed by Sven Petersson- one of the first films to demonstrate the need for silent film preservation, it was not shown to audiences until, 1975. Clearly George af Klercker was eclipsed by Mauritz Stiller and Victor Sjostrom in that af Klercker left had Svenska Bio before  Stiller and Sjostrom had gained renown internationally for films of longer running length. The director Geroge af Klerker is portrayed by actor Bjorn Granath in the film "The Last Scream" ("The Last Gasp", Stig Bjornman, 1995), a two character play in one act lasting almost an hour which depicts a fictional, ie. Imaginary, meeting between the director Klercker and Charles Magnussion, founder of Svensk Filmindustri and which was written by Ingmar Bergman. Actress Anna Von Rossen stars as Miss Holm. The play was published by New Press in the volume, The Fifth Act, in which also appeared Monologue, After the Rehearsal and Presence of a Clown. Stig Bjorkman, noted for his interviews of Ingmar Bergman is also the director of I Am Curious Film, and But Film is My Mistress.

It is clear that Astrid Soderberg Widding outlines the ostensible difference between the director George Af Klercker and his contemporaries Victor Sjostrom and Mauritz Stiller by accurately placing him as a director of "melodrama and sensational adventures" made in Denmark, those which had established the director Viggo Larsen ; he is also apart from the type of film made in Kristianstad before he had began with Svenska Bio at Lindingo. As academic writing among film historians can be cumulative, each seminal text nodding to what is salient in each of its predecessors, it is certain that Soderberg Widding will not only contribute to film history research, but will springboard later film theory. She describes the directing of Af Klercker with, "A purely film-theoretical aspect that becomes evident when looking at Af Klercker's production deserves to be highlighted. it has to do with the relationship between the visual and narrative elements: phenomena which in film-theoretical historiography are not infrequently regarded as counterpoints......Af Klercker's films are in their narratives quite conventional and typical of their time. They provide thrilling stories while expressing a supreme control over film as a medium." In describing this, Astrid Soderberg Widding articulates the interrelationship between content and form while praising the films of Af Klercker for their "stylistic stability and visual extravagance, if only to reiterate that characters are developed within the miss en scene context of their created environment in the narrative plots of both Danish and Swedish silent film "Here one encounters a driven visual narrator   who demands a high degree of focus. many of the different narrative devices and stylistic features are noteworthy: his utilization of a qualified depth-of-focus cinematography aw well as the effect of advanced lighting." The author notes that one instance of this was Klerker's use of door frames within the image. In no academic papers already copyrighted, Soderberg Widding looks intricately at technique including the element of editing, so as not to neglect shot structure being in tandem with composition, by distinguishing a signature of Af Klercker's composition, "to use an undivided screen space where dissectons and doubling so takes place within a general frame rather than the introduction of several frames."
Dodsritten under cirkuskupolen (1912) had been written by Charles Magnusson and photographed by Henrik Jaenzon. George Af Klercker had written his own screenplay to the 1912 film Jupiter pa Jorden, also filmed by Henrik Jaenzon. Although Af Klerker directed a short film photographed by Sven Petterson and starring actress Tyra Leijman Uppstrom during 1913, he that year also directed The Scandal (Skandalen) for Svenska Biographteatern, his photographer again Henrik Jaenzon, as was the case with the film Med Vapen I Hand that year,actress Selma Wiklund Af Klerker also returning for both films. As director, Klercker appeared on screen on camera in front of the lens of cameraman Henrik Jaenzon during "Med Vapen hand", which he did again while directing "For faderneslandent" with Jaenzon as camera man. Ragnar Ring codirected the film and wrote it's screenplay and actress Lilly Jacobsen starred in the film.
     In Goteborg, Sweden, the two films produced by Hasselblads Fotofraphiska during 1915 were both filmed by George af Klerker and Sve Petterson. That year George af Klercker contributed the film "The Rose of Thistle Island" ("Rosen pa Tistelon), the first film in which actress Elsa Carlsson and Anna Lofstrom were to appear. The novel had been filmed previously by director Mauritz Stiller as "Pa livets Odesvager".
     Among the films directed by George Af Klercker during 1916 was The Gift of Health (Aktie bolaget Halsams gave), the first film photographed by cinematographer Gustav Gustafson and the first film in which actress Tekla Sjoblom was to appear. Also starring in the film are Mary Johnson and Anna Lofstrom. That year Swedish film director Af Klercker also appeared on screen in the film Under the Spell of Memories (I minnenasband), in which he directed Elsa Carlsson, Tora Carlsson and Elsa Berglund. The film was written and photographed by Sven Pettersson. The 1916 film Hogsta Vinsten, in which director George Af Klercker appeared on screen with actress Gerda Thome Mattsson lasted a brief running time of only sixteen minutes at a time when the average running time had been increased from four reels to six. The film was photographed by Sven Pettersson. Also among the film's directed by George af Klercker in 1916 were "Triumph of Love" ("Karleken segrar") photographed by Carl Gustaf Florin and starring Mary Johnson, Teklas Sjoblom, Selma Wikland Klercker and Lily Cronwin in the first film in which she was to appear and the film "Mother in Law Goes for a Stroll" ("Svar pa rift") photographed by Gustav A. Gustafson and starring Greta Johansson, Maja Cassell and Zara Backman.
Af Klercker had gained renown not only for his blending artificial and natural light, but while at Hasselblad he innovated the techniques involved with a lens system that was suited for filming objects at a distance, ranging from a focal length of a few feet to that of a mile.

Danish Silent Film

Victor Sjostrom and Mauritz Stiller

Swedish Silent Film

Swedish Sound Film

Greta Garbo Silent Film
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