The Saga of Gosta Berling
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Previously available in the U.S. only in a severely truncated version, Mauritz Stiller's The Saga of Gosta Berling - the film that made Greta Garbo a star - has been restored to its proper luster by the Swedish Film Institute. Lars Hanson, one of Sweden's biggest stars, plays Gosta Berling, a defrocked priest who encounters a series of adventures and loves in his tumultuous journey to redemption. Along the way, he encounters the beautiful Elisabeth, played by Greta Garbo in her first major screen role, but who already looks very much the movie star. The epic production is punctuated by stunning set pieces, including the burning of the massive Ekeby estate, and a magnificent chase across a frozen lake, with the lovers pursued by a ravenous pack of wolves. "At once a summary and a swan song of the Swedish film" (Arthur Knight, The Liveliest Art), the Saga Of Gosta Berling was the last major film produced during Sweden's first golden age. Soon after, many of Sweden's leading stars and directors, including Stiller, Garbo and Hansin, were coaxed to Hollywood, and Sweden would enter a decades-long drought during which few of its films would receive international attention. Now, after more than 80 years, The Saga Of Gosta Berling can be revised and appreciated as one of the pinnacles of early Swedish cinema.
- Excerpt from 1922 film Luffarpeter starring Greata Garbo
- "Rediscovering Sweden: Peter Cowie Introduces the Films of Mauritz Stiller" featurette
- Newsreel footage of Garbo's departure from Sweden
- Advertising films featuring young Garbo
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Top customer reviews
The storyline, as has been noted before, is like a Swedish version of PRIDE AND PREJUDICE. Contrary to the way the film is advertised, it is not a vehicle for Greta Garbo. Her part is important and it got her noticed but she is only one of several characters who inhabit this large scale canvas. At 184 minutes GOSTA is very long and at times hard to follow because of the numerous storylines but if you stick with it you'll find yourself inevitably drawn in and the last third of the film is a powerful emotional ride that is almost impossible to turn away from. Bravos to the Swedish Film Institute for the restoration work which is truly remarkable and to Kino International for making this masterwork available the way it was meant to be seen.
Special mention should be made of the outstanding new score by Matti Bye that accompanies the film. It enhances the various moods of the many characters and keeps you drawn to the story as it unfolds. Sweden was one of the major players during the silent era and GOSTA BERLING would mark the zenith of Swedish cinema for nearly 30 years as most of the talent involved with the film would migrate to Hollywood where superstardom awaited Garbo, several good parts awaited Lars Hanson, and the end of his career awaited director Mauritz Stiller who would die in 1928 after returning to Sweden. This is part of a three film tribute along with SIR ARNE'S TREASURE and the romantic comedy EROTIKON devoted to the great but forgotten Swedish director. It's a must have for any silent film aficionado or for anyone who loves an epic romance. Think of it as a silent film treatment of GONE WITH THE WIND or DOCTOR ZHIVAGO.
Also, as long as you are okay with long silent movie, it is a remarkable story and I'm glad I added it to my collection. The music is amazing and goes so well with the movie.