Combustible Celluloid
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With: Victor Sjöström, Ingmar Bergman, Erland Josephson, Hilda Borgström, Edith Erastoff, Ingrid Bergman
Written by: Victor Sjöström, Sam Ask, Gustaf Molander
Directed by: Victor Sjöström, Gösta Werner
MPAA Rating: Unrated
Running Time: 260
Date: 03/18/2013

Victor Sjöström (1981)

3 Stars (out of 4)

Swede Dreams

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Kino has released this 1981 documentary by Gösta Werner as well as three early Victor Sjöström features on two DVDs. Both the documentary and the films emphasize Sjöström's skillful, poetic use of natural landscapes and elements to heighten his films. Both trace his early career making the routine melodramas of the period, his later career in Hollywood, and then his final phase as an actor back in Sweden (culminating in his masterful performance in Ingmar Bergman's Wild Strawberries). Unfortunately, the documentary skims over the Hollywood period in less than a minute, saying that Sjöström was "never really happy there." Meanwhile, Sjöström's two most interesting, most popular features, The Phantom Carriage (1921) and The Wind (1928) are still not available on DVD. A case can be made for The Outlaw and His Wife (1918), packaged with the documentary, as an early triumph, but Ingeborg Holm (1913) andA Man There Was (1917) -- packaged together on the second DVD -- are ofmore historical than aesthetic interest.

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