Saturday, June 20, 2009

Retretti (3) Albert Edelfelt and the Cinema

Albert Edelfelt painted in the age of the birth of the cinema. He belonged to the last great generation of realistic painters. Photography was already an important tool for his generation. Photography and cinema satisfied gradually the realistic need, and the ambitious artists turned to non-realistic ways of expression.

Edelfelt was sometimes criticized for being conventional, and he was bitterly hurt by such criticism. He was a many-sided artist, and yes, some of his best-known works were somewhat conventional.

One of his last works was a stark series of etchings (1904) for Selma Lagerlöf's tale The Treasure of Sir Arne. Edelfelt's compositions were the explicit model for Mauritz Stiller's magisterial film adaptation (1919) of Lagerlöf's tale. Stiller's film is the obvious model for certain scenes in Fritz Lang's Die Nibelungen (1924) and in Sergei Eisenstein's Ivan the Terrible (1944).

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