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Herr Arnes pengar 1919
Description: Three Scottish officers, including Sir Archi, murder Sir Arne and his household for a coffin filled with gold. The only survivor is Elsalill, who moves to relatives in Marstrand. There she meets a charming young officer - Sir Archi, and she later understands that he was one of the murderers. She is in a classic dilemma between her love for Sir Archi and justice.
Released: 10 Dec 1921 Director: Mauritz Stiller Writers: Selma Lagerlöf (novel), Gustaf Molander, Mauritz Stiller Actors: Erik Stocklassa, Bror Berger, Richard Lund, Axel Nilsson Genres: Drama, History
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Herr Arnes pengar Reviews:

As a game in movie history books, Sir Arne's Treasure everytime seemed like it gotta fall somewhere between Die Nibelungen and Ivanhoe-- an epic knightish journey with a heavier Scandinavian feel. In fact it's a tale of guilt and doom in the classic Swedish mode, almost a chamber piece despite its grandiose division into five acts, set in an historical setting but with some of the same distilled focus and sense of inevitability as, to pick a newest example, Cronenberg's A History of Violence. Three Scottish mercenaries (the main one, incongruously, given the jaunty name "Sir Archie"; happily his compatriots are not Sir Reggie and Sir Jughead) escape from captivity in 16th century Sweden and, driven half-mad by the winter winds and starvation, wind up slaughtering the whole household of a local king for his treasure. Only one young, Lillian Gish-like girl, Elsalill, who hides herself during the crime, escapes-- but, being Swedish, is consumed by survivor's guilt. This being one of those stories (like Ruin or Dickens' Bleak House) where there are only eight various folks in the whole country, the three, newly kitted out in finery, return to the stage of the crime and Sir Archie promptly falls in love with the survivor of his depredations and begins having guilt of his own. I'm betting you can cute much guess how that's going to work out for the gloomy couple. The initial acts of Sir Arne's Treasure take a tiny mental adjustment, as there's what we might call a high Guy Maddin quotient here, of over-the-top Nordic gloom-- the old crone (Mrs. Sir Arne) repeatedly shrieking "Why are they sharpening the knives at Brorhaven?" at the dinner table, the test of the phrase "fish wench" in a title, or a ship captain who believes that his ship is frozen in ice as God's punishment for some large crime he can't QUITE place his finger on.... The latter in particular shows the heavily moralistic hand of Selma Lagerlof (who also wrote Gosta Berling, The Phantom Chariot, etc.), who was nice at setting up ripping plot mechanics but tended to impose a Victorian religious sensibility which you don't see in the greatest Swedish films, such as Sjostrom's The Outlaw and His Wife. While there's a stark, In Cold Blood-like quality to the depiction of these violent happenings in a remote, snowbound location, we're impressed by the dramatic quality of the happenings themselves, not by any human sympathy that has particularly been built up for the characters to that point. And it is simple to see why distributors in another countries succumbed to the temptation to trim the movie down, as Stiller allows many of the happenings to enjoy out in true time, even when relatively tiny is going on. It's when the movie narrows its focus to the two main characters and their guilt-racked interactions that Stiller's deliberate storytelling starts to really justify itself-- the movie is like the long walk to the electric chair in a Cagney film from that mission on, and the minutely detailed depiction of daily activities not only makes the historical setting seem vividly real, but serves to slash off the chance of outlandish movie-style heroics which will bring the storyline to any end another than the inevitable tragic one (which, nevertheless, includes a couple of shocking turns which wouldn't have passed muster for Errol Flynn at Warner Brothers in 1938). Mention gotta be made (as theater reviewers tell when they can't think of a better transition) of the cinematography of Julius Jaenzon, who cute much shot everything that was anything in Swedish silent cinema. The word inevitably attached to Jaenzon's work is "landscape," which is to say, he and Stiller and Sjostrom were all masterful at using the forbidding country they lived in to support set the emotional tone of their scenes. When they wish you to feel that someone's lonely, they stick him out walking on an icy fjord and by God, he's LONELY. Also, as we all know, the moving camera as an expressive device (rather than just a method of showing off your fancy set, as in Intolerance) wasn't invented until The Last Laugh in 1924, so we can all throw out those pages of our movie history ebooks since one of the most striking things about this movie is the extensive test of the moving camera throughout. Since the moving camera tends to imply the presence of the director and thus to deny the chance of gratis will for the characters (which is why it works so well in things like noirs, or Maximum Ophuls' adaptations of Schnitzler, or Kubrick films about unstable hotel caretakers being taken over by malevolent ghosts), it's a excellent artistic choice for this story, and one that strongly reinforces the atmosphere of destiny and doom while also keeping our focus on the mental state of characters who remain front and center within the shot, rather than on how they physically transport from one zone to other within a shot.


Watching 'Master Arne's Treasure' is, at times, like watching a moving gallery of pictures by Hammershoi, Kroyer or Spilliaert. The film's best set-piece has the anti-hero Sir Archie walking at night in a vast snow-scape. The frozen snow seems to be moving like a river away from him; in any case, its stark luminosity in the dark gives it an eerie unstable appearance; vs this backdrop, Archie seems unnatural, as if his physical presence doesn't fit properly in his surroundings, like his photo has been slash out and pasted ineptly onto a back projection. This prepares us for the ghostly emanation of his conscience, the young woman he brutally murdered for money.'Treasure' is one of the most shocking movies of the silent era. This is partly because we are set up to identify with characters who then commit an unspeakable crime. Three Scottish aristocrat mercenaries in Sweden (reversing the Viking pillage in Britain?) are place in a military prison for conspiring vs the King. Remarkably, they take this is nice spirit, and spend their days in homoerotic bouts of leap-frog. This instantly endears them to the audience - a willingness to enjoy in the most oppressive conditions. Such flippancy certainly antagonises the prison warder, who snarls and pokes his spear in at them: they manage to keep him, steal his keys and escape.'Treasure' starts as Renoir's soon masterpiece 'La Grande Illusion' ends - troops escape from a foreign prison, tramping through the massive snow before finding refuge in a wood-cabin. By this time, however, our heroes are starving, and enjoy is replaced by violence as they eat and drink for the first time in months, to the horror of the wife of the house. When her husband comes home, the boys are unconscious with wine, and he throws them out.Like the movies of colleague Victor Sjostrom, Stiller frames his movies in a natural context. But here, nature is more than simply nature, it is an embodiment of a moral order. The movie starts with a snow that freezes and paralyses an whole society, and ends with a thawing that cannot take zone until the crimes of the malefactors are revealed. They hope to escape to Scotland in a ship surreally stranded in sea-less ice; even when the rest of the ice breaks, it remains stubbornly immovable until the criminals are apprehended.The crime isn't shown, and we are first alerted to it by a vision of Arne's wife, who sees boys sharpening their knives. This is a movie full of visions (when the crime is eventually shown, it's in a vision), some of them emanations of conscience, others 'Hamlet'-like messages from the grave, revealing the murders. Christian morality plays some part in conjuring up these visions, with Arne's wife's vision a token of guilt, and Arne's treasure, told to have been stolen from monastaries throughout the country, has a negative fetishistic power.The difference between this supernatural realm and the vivid, material evocation of provincial life (dinners, dances, taverns, craftsmen, dogs etc.) is expressed in the strange, haunting imagery. In fact, the two frequently combine, especially at the end, when the death of the orphan produces a funeral cortege, a black worm of mourners slithering on the vast snow, that is both ritualistically 'timeless', strange, yet rooted in local traditions. The film's melodrama - the nice suffering of its heroine, the arbitrary intrusion of brutal events, the cynical self-servingly remorseful anti-hero, the almost Kafkaesque proliferation of the military - thus becomes a type of chilling horror story.


As far as I can tell, this is the first Swedish Silent that I've watched (I'd previously been intrigued by a solitary still – now used for the DVD sleeve itself – found in "The Movie", a British periodical from the early 1980s); I've seen a handful of early efforts from neighboring Denmark – and the aesthetic starkness in the predominant style of both countries is cute similar. It's also the first from Swedish master Stiller (I also own his two another well-known titles, EROTIKON [1920] and THE SAGA OF GOSTA BERLING [1924], that were released on DVD from Kino – and I may very well contain the latter in my actual Epic/Historical movies schedule); incidentally, I've only checked out – and was duly impressed by – two American-made pictures from Victor Sjostrom, the another nice director to emanate from this country during the Silent era.SIR ARNE'S TREASURE is greatest described as a historical melodrama – since the elements typically expected of an epic only really come into enjoy in the scenes involving a fire early on and a sword-fight towards the end. However, one shouldn't overlook the vast and forbidding icy landscape which not only serves as an extremely realistic backdrop to the narrative – incidentally, the quality of the cinematography throughout likens the movie to an uninterrupted series of medieval tableaux – but is very much other hero in it, since the villains' flight (the perpetrators of a massacre in a household, from which they also abscond with the titular fortune) is prohibited because the sea has frozen over! Notable scenes here include: a cart-wheeling horse falling head-first through cracked ice; the youngest of the thieves having ghostly visions of one of his murdered victims (as it happens, he soon falls for the girl's sister…and she with him, which leads to the latter being torn whether to give her lover away or run off with him to Scotland!); the leading boy ultimately using the heroine as a human shield vs the oncoming soldiers; the closing procession over the ice by the townsfolk to reclaim the girl's dead body (justly considered one of the visual highlights in all of Silent cinema).The plot also effectively incorporates the element of premonition – such as when the fish-hawker's usually docile canine companion senses impending doom and begins to howl, Sir Arne's wife literally hearing from miles away the preparations for the subsequent assault on her abode, the ship captain's tale of a previous situation of poetic justice similarly brought on by severe weather conditions, and the heroine being led by her dead sister to the villains' whereabouts in a dream. The print I watched featured great test of blue (for outdoor night-time scenes) and red (the afore-mentioned blaze) tinting; the newly-composed accompanying score is appropriately sweeping, albeit making test of mostly modern instruments. The main extras on the Kino DVD involve noted movie historian Peter Cowie, who supplies an informative background to early Swedish cinema (where he also discusses the seminal contribution of authoress Selma Lagerlof – who was behind the source novel of both this and THE SAGA OF GOSTA BERLING) and, in a separate featurette, focuses exclusively on the movie at hand.



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