Sog.: from the novel Heir Arnes penningar di Selma Lagerlöf. Scen.: Mauritz Stiller, Gustaf Molander. F.: Julius Jaenzon. Scgf.: Alexander Bakó. Mus.: Helmer Alexandersson. Int.: Richard Lund (Sir Archie), Hjalmar Selander (Sir Arne), Concordia Selander (la moglie di Sir Arne), Mary Johnson (Elsalill), Wanda Rothgardt (Berghild), Axel Nilsson (Torarin), Erik Stocklassa (Sir Filip), Jenny Öhrström-Ebbesen (la madre di Torarin). Prod.: AB Svenska Biografteatern. DCP. D.: 109’. Bn.
Herr Arnes pengar was the first adaptation of Mauritz Stiller of a work by the great Swedish writer Selma Lagerlöf – later on, Gunnar Hedes saga (The Blizzard, 1923) and Gösta Berlings saga (The Saga of Gosta Berling, 1924) would follow. The main part of the action is set on the west coast of Sweden (then under Danish rule) during a severe winter in the 17th century. In this tale of ominous premonitions, legends, greed and murder, the vengeful wrath of Nature pursues human ill-doers, and loosens its grip only when the sins committed are atoned for. The tormented souls of the leader of the mercenaries and of young Elsalill, torn between love and grief, give evidence of the impossibility of escaping from one’s past.
Stiller creates stunning visual compositions with elaborate geometrical patterns and he found cinematic expressions for Lagerlöf’s powerful blend of realism and other-worldly eeriness. This is beautifully captured by the ingenious camerawork of cinematographer Julius Jaenzon. Some of the film’s setpieces are among the highlights of Swedish silent cinema, such as the fire at the vicarage, and the endless line of grieving women on the ice. The letter scene bears a strong resemblance to some of Ėjzenštejn’s compositions in Aleksandr Nevskij.
Previous analogue restorations emanated from a downsized, academy ratio b/w duplicate negative made in the late 1970s, with various additions as new elements surfaced. The main sources for the digital restoration, carried out in 2017, were a tinted nitrate print with Dutch intertitles from the Deutsche Kinemathek and a b/w nitrate print with Swedish intertitles. Sections were also taken from two safety elements from earlier preservations, where the original nitrate sources are now lost. The digital restoration includes scenes and additional frames missing from previous restored versions of the film.