The Golden Age of Swedish cinema came quickly and went away quickly. Except for Ingmar Bergman (who decades later appeared as something of an isolated phenomenon) it lasted only a very brief period of about four years, towards the end of and just after World War I. During those short years, Swedish-produced films, helmed by the directors Victor Sjöström and Mauritz Stiller, were praised by critics and became international block busters. Time and time again. Not only that, but they became tremendously influential on contemporary film-makers all around the world.
Perhaps even more spectacular is that most of those films have withstood the test of time and still feel interesting and relevant today. They impress, both by their advanced imagery and their competent story-telling. Sjöström and Stiller worked in many different genres, and for the most part they based their films on prestigious literature.
As far as I know, nothing by Stiller is available at the Internet Archive, but a good selection can be found across Sjöström’s career. One of Sjöström’s first international successes was Berg-Ejvind och hans hustru, known in English as The Outlaw and His Wife.
Sjöström often played the lead in his own films. Here, he plays the fugitive Ejvind, who falls in love with the rich widow Halla, played by his future wife Edith Erastoff, pregnant with their first child. Some have said that their real love shines through in their acting.
Unfortunately, the version at the Internet Archive has only English title cards, not the original Swedish ones.
After the peak of the Swedish golden years, Sjöström and Stiller both went on to international careers. Sjöström’s was successful but short, and he made few films after the silent era. His final one as a director was Under the Red Robe (1937), but he continued as a producer and a celeberated actor in his native Sweden for two more decades after that.
This film is best enjoyed for its use of forces of nature as an integrated story element. Sjöström was a pioneer in this.
The Outlaw and His Wife
Running time: 1 h 13 min
Director: Victor Sjöström
Stars: Victor Sjöström, Edith Erastoff
Image quality: Acceptable
Resolution: Medium (640×480)
Soundtrack: Poor; synthesized score partly adapted to the images
Sound quality: Good
Best file format: Windows Media (939 M)