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Thursday, September 8, 2016

Gosta Berlings Saga (1924)

A defrocked priest (Lars Hanson) is driven out of his parish and falls under the protection of a wealthy woman (Gerda Lundequist) along with several other disreputable men who are referred to as the "knights" of her estate. Based on the 1891 novel by Nobel prize winner Selma Lagerlof, Mauritz Stiller's 3 hour epic is an ambitious tale of flawed outcasts who seek out redemption. Though Hanson's Gosta Berling is the central character, there are several other major storylines and other characters who share his outclass status. Curiously, they're all women who in a patriarchal society are literally thrown out of their homes for their "sins". Originally released in the U.S. in a severely truncated version almost cut in half, the 3 hour cut is a beautifully crafted piece of cinema which feels very Dickensian. A future legend is in the cast: the young Greta Garbo as a young bride in a loveless marriage with a gutless husband (Torsten Hammaren) and a witch of a mother in law (Ellen Hartman Cederstrom). An excellent underscore by Matti Bye especially written for the restored version. With Jenny Hasselqvist, Karin Swanstrom and Sixten Malmerfelt.

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