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On Location in Silent Cinema

Wednesday, February 6, 2013
7:00 p.m. Terje Vigen
Victor Sjöström (Sweden, 1917)

Imported Print!
Introduction/Mark Sandberg
Live Music/The Town Quartet


Mark Sandberg is professor in the Departments of Scandinavian and Film and Media at UC Berkeley. The Town Quartet comprises violinists Corey C. Mike and Mia Bella D'Augelli, violist Jacob Hansen-Joseph, and cellist Brady Anderson.

(A Man There Was). Victor Sjöström became Sweden’s most prominent silent-film director when he discovered the main advantage of location shooting for a marginal film industry in the far North: particular landscapes that could be not easily be duplicated by other film industries. His film adaptation of Henrik Ibsen’s epic poem Terje Vigen exploits the Scandinavian seascape, beginning the rise to international prominence of a Swedish film aesthetic in which powerful landscapes form an unyielding backdrop for human action.

—Mark Sandberg

• Written by Gustaf Molander, Sjöström, based on a poem by Henrik Ibsen. Photographed by Julius Jaenzon. With Sjöström, August Falk, Edith Erastoff, Bergliot Husberg. (56 mins @ 17fps, Silent with Norwegian intertitles and simultaneous English translation, 35mm tinted, From Swedish Film Institute).

Followed by:

The Wind
Victor Seastrom (U.S., 1928)

Live Music/Bruce Loeb on piano

Bruce Loeb plays for many silent films, including at the Niles Essanay Silent Film Museum, using a combination of period music and improvisation.

Victor Sjöström emigrated to Hollywood to work for MGM in 1923 and became “Victor Seastrom,” but he retained his trademark use of location shooting to signal the natural limits of human will. The Wind is a Western with a vengeance (it is set in West Texas, though shot in the Mojave Desert), but its relentless wall of wind and grit recalls the impassive naturalism of the on-location settings in his Swedish films. Mark Sandberg

Written by Frances Marion, based on a novel by Dorothy Scarborough. Photographed by John Arnold. With Lillian Gish, Lars Hanson, Montagu Love, Dorothy Cumming. (80 mins @ 24 fps, Silent with English intertitles, B&W, 35mm, PFA Collection, permission Warner Bros.)

Total running time: 136 mins