Wednesday, October 09, 2013

Synd / Sin

SYND / Synti / (Sin) / Rausch / [Peccato] (Film AB Minerva / British Instructional Films / Hisa-Film GmbH, SE/GB/DE, 1928) D: Gustaf Molander; SC: Paul Merzbach, from the play by August Strindberg, Brott och brott (1899, Rikoksia / Crime for Crime); DP: J. Julius [Julius Jaenzon]; C: Lars Hanson (Maurice Gérard, lo scrittore/a writer), Elissa Landi (Jeanne, sua moglie/his wife), Gina Manès (Henriette Mauclerc, l’attrice/an actress), Hugo Björne (Adolphe, l’artista/an artist), Stina Berg (Cathérine); 35 mm, 2412 m, 118' (18 fps); print source: Filmarkivet vid Svenska Filminstitutet, Stockholm. Swedish intertitles. Teatro Verdi (Le Giornate del Cinema Muto, Pordenone), with e-titles in English and Italian, grand piano: Neil Brand, 9 Oct 2013

Jon Wengström: "In 1928 AB Svensk Filmindustri’s international co-production company AB Isepa was dismantled due to financial difficulties, and its head Oscar Hemberg was ousted from the film industry altogether. A couple of years earlier AB Svensk Filmindustri had formed another subdivision, Film AB Minerva, to produce films solely for the domestic market and to increase productivity at its giant studios in Råsunda just north of Stockholm, which they had built in 1920. After the folding of Isepa, Minerva also became responsible for what was left of the studio’s international ambitions, assuming responsibility for Swedish participation in international co-productions, such as the Molander Strindberg adaptation Synd (Sin), shot in the summer of 1928 and released in September."

"Screen adaptations of works by August Strindberg had already appeared while the famous novelist and playwright was still alive, when female pioneer Anna Hofman-Uddgren directed films of Fröken Julie (Miss Julie) and Fadren (The Father), both released in 1912, just months prior to the author’s death. Synd is based on a lesser-known Strindberg play, Brott och brott (Crime and Crime), published in 1899. The film’s director, Gustaf Molander (1888-1973), had played the male lead in a stage production of this drama at the Royal Dramatic Theatre in Stockholm in 1924, and was thus very familiar with it. The film’s male lead is Lars Hanson, here making his first appearance in a Swedish film after several years in Hollywood; his two leading ladies are Austrian-born actress Elissa Landi and French star Gina Manès. The action is set in Paris. Hanson plays an author still waiting to make a name for himself. The film opens brilliantly with a number of striking compositions, unexpected camera angles, and beautiful camera movements in the cramped flat of the author and his family, emphasizing the tension between the married couple, expressed virtually without intertitles. The most famous scene is in the police station, when we get to see different renditions of the same event told by multiple witnesses, and even though one might have wished the film to end there, Molander thankfully decided to shoot the film’s final scene in long-shot rather than in close-up."

"The Print. In 1972, a downsized Academy-ratio duplicate negative, and subsequently a viewing print, was made from a nitrate print with full intertitles." – Jon Wengström

AA: A glossy and smooth adaptation of August Strindberg's tragedy. Good-looking and impressive but long drawn at times.

Brilliant cinematography by Julius Jaenzon, tender scenes of family life (wife played by Elissa Landi, the daughter by a charming child actress), funny observations of the theatre world by Gustaf Molander, born into a theatre family, son of a theatre director.

Paul (Lars Hanson) is "a great writer who has never been published", but now his play La Femme passionnée will be produced, although the producers are cutting out some of the more experimental pages ("the shorter it is the less will the fiasco be"). But Gina Manès is ecstatic, and when she reads her dialogue Paul utters "have I written this?".

The mutual passion between the playwright and the diva escalates, and the central point of the tragedy is articulated: "det är barnet som bindar dig", the child is tying you. "If your child is dearer to you... " "It were better it never had existed." "Cannot it be helped?"

Strindberg develops this situation to its horrible consequences, but in this entertainment vehicle it is all a misunderstanding, and everything is settled for the playwright's family in the happy ending. In Ernst Lubitsch's lost version called Rausch the screenwriter Hanns Kräly altered the play as well but kept it a tragedy; Asta Nielsen played the Gina Manès role.

A good print with sometimes a slightly duped look.

Elissa Landi, Lars Hanson. Photo: Svenska Filminstitutet, Stockholm © 1928 AB Svensk Filmindustri. All rights reserved.

Elissa Landi, Anita Hugo, Gustaf Molander and Julius Jaenzon during the shooting. Photo: Svenska Filminstitutet, Stockholm © 1928 AB Svensk Filmindustri. All rights reserved.

No comments: