Greta Garbo

Thursday, September 1, 2022

Swedish Silent Film, The Golden Age in Decline


Swedish Silent Film scholar Bo Florin makes note of the province held by Nils Bouveng at the newly structured Svenska Filmindustri after the merger had taken place of the smaller companies into one and that Bouveng had published an article entitled Swedish Film Advertising: How the Industry Plans to Conquer the World in the 1919 periodical Filmjournalen. Nils Bouveng of Swedish Biograph was very much responsible for the distribution of Swedish silent film in the United States. The publication Exhibitor's Herald during 1921 noted that although Bouveng was deemed to have thought the film market overcrowded, he would still export film "of merit" to the United States. It wrote,"Swedish Biograph has control of all product of Scandinavian studios and will offer only the cream of these pictures to American theaters...While Thy Soul Shall Bear Witness is regarded as its finest offering, company executives believe that Judge Not, Sir Arne's Treasure, Youth Meets Youth, Dawn of Love and Secret of the Monastery will compare favorably with any American made production." Actors that were anticipated to greet audiences in the United States included Mary Johnson, Gosta Ekman, Renee Bjorling, Tora Teje, Edith Erastoff, Lars Hanson, Karin Molander and Victor Sjostrom.
Scandinavian films were often peered at by American and British film magazines and for thos looking for film rveiews, extatextural discourse on European films can often be located within them. Picture Play Magazine during 1921 looked at the theater screens of Sweden. "Lars Hanson, a star of the Swedish constellation may be added to the European counterparts of American stars. Lesley Mason denominates him 'the Charles Ray of Sweden' and considers him the best male bet of Europe so far as American popularity is concerned. The most popular of the Swedish feminine stars, according to Mr. Mason, are Tora Teje, Karin Molander and Mary Johnson. During the following year, 1922, the periodical Picturegoer magazine in fact recognized actress Mary Johnson as being the leading actress from Sweden in an article about actors known internationally and transnational cinema but opined that as a foreign celebrity she entertained a more subdued fame, as though to denote a lack of commodification of the female in extratextural discourse, ie. exploitation. "Although she rejoices in the title of 'Sweden's Sweetheart", loveable, little Mary Johnson has never recieved a 'fan' letter from Sweden. The reason is extremely simple. There are no 'fans' there. The star, as a star and personality, simply doesn't count. The Swedish picturegoer is very critical as to story, technique and acting and highly appreciative too; but as to writing to the movie stars- perish the thought."

During 1921, the periodical Motion Picture Magazine reported there would be an increase of importations from Stockholm and while it featured still photographs from the films Dawn of Love, The Secret of the Monsastery and A Fortuned Hunter, it marked that the storylines we're to be adaptations from the literature of Ibsen, Bjornsen and Selma Lagerlof and that the principal players had come from the Swedish theater, which aptly describes the way in which actress Greta Garbo would be introduced to Swedish film audiences two years later.

Among the films produced by Filmindustri Skandia during 1920 photographed by Raol Reynolds and directed by Rune Carlsten was the film "The Bomb" ("Sunshine and Shadow", "Bomben"), starring Karin Molander and Gosta Ekman. Rune Carlsten in 1920 wrote and directed the film "A Modern Robinson" ("Robinson i skargarden") with actress Mary Johnson. The cinematographer to the film was Raoul Reynolds. Actress Mary Johnson married Norwegian actor Einor Rod after having appeared with him in the film. Director Rune Carlsten that year also directed Mary Johnson with Tora Teje and Hilda Castegren in "Family Traditions" ("Familjens traditioner") which he cos ripted as well, his co-author having had been being Sam Ask. The film was produced by Svensk Filmindustri and photographed again by Raoul Reynolds.
Solve Cederstrand directed his first film, "A Fateful Incognito" (Ett odesdigert kognito), starring Tage Alquist and Signe Selid in 1920. The film was written by Axel Essen and photographed by Kurt Jager, who went on to direct the film "Elaman maantiella" (1927) in Finland. Children were allowed to public exhibition of the 1920 film "The Shoemaker Prince",directed by Hjalmer Davidsen and scripted by Jens Locher for Palladium film. The film starred Maja Cassel as Princess Charlotte and Oda Larsen. In her paper The Excavation of New Swedish Childen's Film History, scholar Taichi Niibori, Stockholm University, asks if Pauline Brunius, wife of Swedish Silent Film director John Brunius was the "Founding Mother" of the Swedish Barnfilm with the film "Dragonfly" (1920) in a chapter on the Ambiguity of Generic Identity in exhibition strategies, that its "textural aspect symolises the contemporaneuous concept of children's films". It is a short film of 21 minutes running time. Brunius often made short films with child actors in the leading parts.
Scripted by Hjalmer Bergman as an adaptation of his 1917 work "Friarna pa Rockesnas", the 1921 film "Fru Mariannes fare" was directed by Gunnar Klintberg, the cinematographer to the film having had been Robert Olsson. The film starred Astri Torsell, Ingrid Sunblad, Aslag Lie-Erde and Gota Klintberg. Gunnar Klintberg continued by directing Astr Torsell in two more Swedish silent films, "The Love Circle" [Elisabet) with actresses Julia Hakanson and Gota Klintberg and in "Lord Saviles Brott", adapted from the work of Oscar Wilde. Gunner Klintberg's wife, actress Gota Klintberg had appeared with Signe Kolthoff during 1919 in the film "Jefthas dottar", directed by Robert Dinesen. Formerly a journalist, Gustaf Edgren in 1922 had founded his own film company, Varmlandsfilm, making his screenwriting and directorial debut with the film "Miss at Pori" (The Young Lady of Bjorneborg/Froken pa Bjorneborg) starring actresses Rosa Tillman, Elsa Wallin and Edith Ernholm in her first film. The photographer was Adrian Bjurman. Although it joins the narrative of film history in a chapter concerned with the decline of Swedish Silent Film and its Golden Age, author Forsyth Hardy describes the work of Inga Tiblad and Einar Hanson in the 1923 Gustaf Molander film "Malapirater" as "pleasant acting". The film is a comedy. Ragnar Widestedt in 1923 directed Agda Helin and Jenny Tschernichin-Larsson in the film "Housemaids" (Hemslavirmor) written by Ragnar Hylten-Cavallius. Frederick Andersson in 1923 directed the film "En rackarunge" with actresses Elsa Wallin and Mia Grunder. Gustaf V, King of Sweden, is listed as being in the film. It was photographed by Swedish cinematographer Sven Bardach. Per Lindberg directed his first film during 1923, "Norrtullsligan", written by Hjalmer Bergman and starring Tora Teje, Stina Berg, Linnea Hillberg and Nils Asther.
John Lindlof in 1924 directed the film "Man of Adventure" (Odets Man) with Inga Tiblad and Uno Henning, photographed by Gustav a Gustafson. Sigurd Wallen that year directed Inga Tiblad with Einar Froberg in " Greune pa Svanta" photographed by Henrik Jaenzon. Mostly known for being a theater director it was the first of only a handful of films Froberg had appeared in and the only film script that he had written. Froberg had directed an earlier film, "Lunda-indianer" starring Ture Sjogre and Malte Akerman, during 1920, his only time behind the camera, and had directed his own play, "Individerna Forbund' in Stockholm during 1919. Gustaf Molander appeared on stage in Stockholm in Froberg's play "Erna" under the direction of Gustaf Linden at The Drama (Dramaten) during 1922.

Ivar Kage in 1924 directed Gosta Hillberg and Edvin Adolphson in the film "When the Lighthouse Flashes" (Dar fyren blinken) for Svensk Ornfilm. The script was written by Esther Julin who had earlier adapted the novels of Selma Lagerlof to the screen for Victor Sjostrom.

During 1925, Pauline Brunius was appearing on stage with Gosta Ekman in the play "Dalin och Drottningen", written by her brother in law, August Brunius. August Brunius has recently been described by one biographer as having been "the first professional Swedish critic", his having had begun writing essay on the theater in 1917. Swedish Silent Film director William Larsson during 1925 directed the films "Broderna Ostermans huskors" with Jenny Tscherichin-Larsson and Frida Sporring and "For hemmet och flickan" with Jenny Tchernichin Larsson and Elsa Widborg in what was to be the first film in which she was to appear. The former was photographed by Arthur Thorell, the former by Henrik Jaenzon. Olaf Molander, to bring the Golden Age of Swedish Silent Film to an anticlimax rather than a crescendo, directed only three silent films, the first in 1925, the next the following year and one the year following that. About the 1925 film, "Lady of the Camelias"(Damen med kameliorna) Forsyth Hardy writes,"The film derived some distinction from the delicately composed interiors and the touching performance of Tora Teje gave in response to Molander's skilled direction." Photographed by Gustaf A. Gustafson, the films stars Ivan Hedqvist, Hilda Bjorgstrom and Lisskulla Jobs in the first film in which she was to appear. Petschler-Film during 1926 produced the film "Brollopet i Brana" directed by Eric A. Petschler and written by Esther Julin and Lars Tessing. The film, photographed by Gustav A. Gustafson, teamed Edvin Adolphson, Mona Martensen and Emmy Albin. Danish Silent Film

Victor Sjostrom
Victor Sjostrom

1 comment:

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