A key film from Sweden's first golden age of filmmaking, Sir Arne's Treasure
(Herr Arnes pengar
) has long ranked among the most famous -- and famously hard-to-find -- classics of the silent era. Now restored by the Swedish Film Institute and featuring a magnificent orchestral score by Matti Bye and Fredrik Emilson, this landmark work by master filmmaker Mauritz Stiller can finally be seen in its glory.
In 16th-century Sweden, the lives of three Scottish mercenaries and an aging Swedish vicar and his family intersect, and in the unspeakable crime that results, a small coastal community is forever altered. As the three mercenaries struggle to escape from the town, they find that nature has conspired against them -- all outbound ships are frozen in the ice -- forcing them to remain until the tragic tale reaches its catastrophic conclusion.
Made at a time when Sweden was a dominating force in international cinema, Sir Arne's Treasure shows Mauritz Stiller at the peak of his filmmaking powers, working with Nobel Prize-winning author Selma Lagerlof. Aided by the pioneering cinematographer Julius Jaenzon (The Outlaw and His Wife), Stiller fills every frame with ice and snow to emphasize the oppressiveness of the freezing conditions and the forbidding terrain. Rarely has winter seemed so threatening, and rarely has the landscape of Sweden been used to such magnificent effect.
Mauritz Stiller, one of Sweden's founding fathers of film, creates a monumental and bleak epic about three Scottish aristocrats in Sweden in the 16th century. After escaping from prison, the men commit a heinous crime, murdering a wealthy landowner named Sir Arne and stealing his treasure. The story takes a complicated turn as a young girl falls in love with one of the murderers, but then must betray him once she realizes the atrocity he has committed. With overtones of MACBETH and morality plays, SIR ARNE'S TREASURE uses the bitter winter of Sweden as a backdrop to this desolate masterpiece of the silent era.