Greta Garbo and Victor Sjostrom

Saturday, December 30, 2023

Scott Lord Silent Film: Henrik Ibsen’s Ghosts (George Nichols- D.W. Griffith, 1915)

It may be that the recent histoiography of the earliest adaptations of the plays of Ibsen to the screen can be seen as "transnational film adaptations", the effect of Hollywood upon an international film market before and after the First World War in a competetive emergence of directorial systems, including the vying screenwriting techniques of Griffith and Ince. Author Eirk Frsvold Hanssen writes that in 1918 there were twenty eight silent film adaptations of the plays of Henrik Ibsen, of which only nine still exist today, the others presumed lost, with no surviving copies, the version directed by George Nichols "employing montage techniques of the emerging classical Hollywood style".

Scholar Mark Sandberg looks at the "difficulties of transposing a densely verbal naturalist drama to the visual regime of silent film", invluding the "evocation of the unsaid underneath all that is said". Sandberg continues to describe Griffith's adaptations as "pantomime" and "paratext". Thanhouser began producing one reel adaptations of literature and in 1911 filmed three plays written by Norwegain playwright Henrik Ibsen: "Pillars of Society" (Samfundets stotter), starring Julia M. Taylor, "Lady of the Sea" (Fruen fra havnet, Theodore Morsten) starring Marguerite Snow and "A Doll's House" (Ettdukkenhjem).

Lubin that year filmed a two reel version of Ibsen's "Sins of the Father" (Genggarare), directed by William Baumann. The Oliver Morosco Photoplay Company followed suit during 1915 with a five reel version of "Peer Gynt" (Apfel, Walsh) starring Myrtle Stedman, Mary Ruebens and Mary Ruby. The Thanhauser film "Lady of the Sea" from 1917 that film historians will find is not a lost film but rather one abandoned by actress Valda Valkyrien before changing studios. Born Baroness De Witz, Valkyrien made five films for Thanhouser between 1915-1917. Charles Bryant in 1922 directed a seven reel adaptation of "A Doll's House, photographed by Charles van Enger.

Swedish Silent Film D.W. Griffith D.W. Griffith

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