Greta Garbo and Victor Sjostrom

Monday, August 7, 2023

Scott Lord Swedish Silent Film: Thomas Graal's Best Film (Mauritz Stille...

Bengt Forslund, in his article "Through a Glass Darkly, the silent era of Swedish Film", reminds us that Victor Sjostrom and Mauritz Stiller "made farces, comedies and melodramas, as well as medieval legends and romantic sagas, social films and realistic dramas." Interestingly enough Forslund tries to relate their affinity as having arisen not from a singleness of desire, or from a solidarity, but it having come rather from their disparity, from their having "little in common as individuals". This led to each learning the others technique of filmmaking. Peter Cowie, in his volume Scandinavian Cinema, sees the film as self-reflexive, writing "'Thomas Graal's Best Film' works primarily as a comedy of manners, but it also functions effectively as a satire on filmmaking, evene at this early stage of the industry's development. The implication is that cinema stands beyond reality, and as a medium attracts only the 'hammy' situation and the exagerrated personality." Peter Cowie notes that onscreen Victor Sjostrom and Karen Molander are the "ideal screen couple" and that Gustaf Molander, although only inevitably married to Karen Molander for eight years, wrote "scintillating" dialougue intertiles for her. Cowie points out that the film distinguishes Mauritz Stiller as one of the first directors to use a "film-within-a-film-format". Mauritz Stiller is particularly noted for having has directed Victor Sjostrom in two comedies for A.B Svenska, “Wanted A Film Actress” (“Thomas Graal’s Basta Film”, 1917) with actress Karin Molander and Jenny Tschernichin-Larsson and “Marriage ala mode” [“Thomas Graal’s First Child/ Thomas Graal’s Basta Barn”, 1918) also starring Karin Molander and Jenny Tschernichin-Larsson. The running time to the former, a film noted by Forsyth Hardy as one of the first comedies about filmmaking, was ninety minutes, the latter eighty nine minutes. Rune Carlsten and Henrik Jaenzon both appeared on screen in the film Thomas Graal’s Best Film, which was written under a pseudonym by Gustaf Molander. Molander continued as writer and director of “Thomas Graal’s Ward/ Thomas Graal’s mindling”, photographed by Adrian Bjurnman.

Silent Film

Victor Sjostrom

Victor Sjostrom

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