Tuesday, October 09, 2018

Judaspengar / The Price of Betrayal (2018 restoration in 4K by AFF / CNC)

Judaspengar. The two families. The opening forward tracking shot to the Holk family where the mother is dying. The Blom family at the dinner table.

SE 1915
regia/dir: Victor Sjöström.
scen: Axel Frische.
photog: Julius Jaenzon.
cast: Egil Eide (Blom, operaio/worker), John Ekman (Holk, amico di Blom/Blom’s friend), Kaja Eide (moglie di Blom/Blom’s wife), Stina Berg (lattaia/the milk-bottle seller), Gabriel Alw (impiegato/the clerk).
prod: AB Svenska Biografteatern.
copia/copy: DCP, 36′ (da/from 35 mm, b&w, col. [imbibito/tinted]); did./titles: SWE.
fonte/source: CNC – Centre national du cinéma et de l’image animée, Bois d’Arcy.
    Not released in Finland.
    Le Giornate del Cinema Muto (GCM).
    Grand piano: John Sweeney.
    Viewed at Teatro Verdi, Pordenone, e-subtitles in English and Italian, 9 Oct 2018

Jon Wengström, Laurent Bismuth (GCM): "The recent discovery by the CNC in Bois d’Arcy of a nitrate Swiss distribution print of Victor Sjöström’s Judaspengar (1915) is nothing short of sensational. Not only has a lost film by one of the greatest directors from the silent era been resurrected, thus giving us an additional piece to the reconstruction of the director’s early career and the evolution of cinema in Sweden, but Judaspengar is a remarkable film in its own right."

"Of the 30 films Sjöström directed during his formative years 1912-16, Judaspengar is only the fifth to survive. It depicts a worker out of job and struggling to provide for his sick wife and child. The film’s opening, a tracking shot through a window into the lodgings of the protagonist, shows a director who had already reached a high level of maturity and mastery of the language of cinema, and the film abounds with similar visually striking shots."

"The most famous of the early Sjöström films to survive is Ingeborg Holm (1913), and there are similarities between the two films, most notably in the treatment of space and the compositions, with action taking place in different depths of field within the same shot; in Judaspengar, Sjöström often uses windows in the background of interiors to show additional action. Other correspondences between the two films include the appearance of Death as the uninvited guest, setting the tragic course of events in motion. As in so many other Sjöström films, the presence of children induces the characters to abandon any thoughts of vengeance and bitterness, and the malicious acts of men are shown to be the result of external circumstances and not of any intrinsic qualities of evil."

"Judaspengar was shot in the summer of 1915 on location in Stockholm and in AB Svenska Biografteatern’s studios on the island of Lidingö just east of the city, and was released in November the same year. The film’s original length was 827 metres, but before the domestic release it was cut by the Swedish censorship authorities to 799 metres. The nitrate print that has resurfaced is 755 metres, but does include the two scenes that were cut by the Swedish censors. The film stock of the nitrate print shows that the intertitles, which are tinted and in both French and German, are from 1926, whereas the image material is from 1919, indicating that the print had a varied and long life (there is also an intertitle in French and Flemish)."

"Consequently, it suffered the ravages of time, and in order to restore the film, the damaged nitrate print had to be digitized with great care (in 4K, colour, and overscan), including the perforations, many of which were torn or pulled. The image restoration consisted of several stages – stabilization, dust detection, and processing (configured according to each shot), the correction of possible resulting artefacts, and the use of a graphic tablet for remaining defects. Abundant scratches were also removed, and the digital restoration included colour grading and the insertion of recreated intertitles."

"Neither original title cards nor a Swedish list of intertitles survive. For this restoration, the film’s intertitles have been recreated using as a guide the studio’s German list of intertitles, preserved in the non-film collections of the Swedish Film Institute. The same design and font of intertitles from other films made by the same studio the same year have been used as a template. The editing of the resurfaced nitrate in the film’s final scenes has been corrected, using the title list and numbered copyright frames preserved at the Library of Congress in Washington, DC, as a guide."

"The digitization and image restoration was carried out by the CNC (Paris and Bois d’Arcy), and the reconstruction and re-creation of the Swedish intertitles by the Swedish Film Institute (Stockholm)." Jon Wengström, Laurent Bismuth (GCM)

AA: A beautiful and important discovery of one of Victor Sjöström's earliest films. As we know from Trädgårdsmästaren and Ingeborg Holm Sjöström belonged to the directors who had a strong and personal vision from the start.

Sjöström's assured touch is evolving with camera movements, dynamic mise-en-scène, and bold lighting in a thrilling attic sequence. The film starts with an impressive forward tracking shot towards the window of the poor Holk family at the deathbed of the mother.

The simple, stark and sober visual storytelling can be compared with Griffith. The performances are intensive but natural.

Judaspengar is a crime story in which crime does not pay. But we are made to feel sympathy for the men whose families experience poverty and who try to survive in desperate conditions. The men are not even allowed to hunt for the nourishment of their families. The story of the wife's suffering and death is deeply moving without histrionics. The family cannot even afford a funeral. That's how the husband comes to betray his hunting companion. Even his suicide attempt by the river at the sawmill fails.

Beautiful visual look on the DCP of a source with just a few occasional damage marks. In glorious black and white.



Holk har länge varit arbetslös och nu är hustrun sjuk. Han söker hjälp hos Blom, men denne har det lika illa ställt. För att åtminstone få mat för dagen beslutar de sig för att tjuvjaga på storgodsets jaktmarker. De lyckas också skjuta en orrhöna, men en skogvaktare har hört skottet. Blom lyckas fly i tid men Holk blir upphunnen. Under brottningen med skogvaktaren går hans bössa av och vådaskjuter honom till döds. Förskräckt flyr nu Holk från platsen, lämnande sin bössa.

Vid undersökningen finner man bössan intill skogvaktaren. Den bär inskriptionen "A. Blom" och misstankarna faller därför på denne. Denne gömmer sig på Holks vind och gäckar alla efterspaningar.

En belöning på 200 kr utfärdas för den som kan ge upplysningar om var Blom finns. Holk känner sig frestad för att kunna hjälpa sin sjuka hustru, men avvisar strax denna tanke. Så dör emellertid hustrun och nu saknar han pengar till begravningen. För läkaren anger han var Blom är att finna.

Genom en springa i vindsgolvet har Blom blivit vittne till vännens förräderi. Det är för sent att fly, men medan polisen samlas bär han upp Holks hustrus lik på vinden och intar själv den döda kvinnans plats under lakanet i sängen.

Polisen genomsöker nu vinden men kan inte finna Blom, och de upptäcker heller inte liket som Blom väl gömt i en gammal säck.

"När poliserna avlägsnat sig ser Holk till sin fasa liket resa sig -- men det är Blom som nu står framför honom såsom hans onda samvete personifierat.

'Du Judas' väser Blom, 'är det så du förråder en vän och kamrat?' Blom blir strax därpå gripen av polisen. Holk erhåller sina judaspengar, men hans samvete har redan begynt sitt verk.

(Enligt manuskriptet tar han inte emot pengarna.)

Under rättegångsförhandlingarne anländer till domaren en skrivelse om hur det tillgått vid skogvaktarens död.

'I älven nedanför sågen kan Ni söka mig' tillägger han i brevet. Blom blir frikänd, och erhåller, som en ersättning för oförskyllt lidande de 'Judaspengar', som utfästs för hans gripande. Blom åtager sig även att sörja för Holks efterlämnade, nu fader- och moderlösa lilla flicka." (Bearbetning av program)

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