Sog.: dall’omonimo dramma di Nils Krok. Scen.: Nils Krok, Victor Sjöström. F.: Henrik Jaenzon. Int.: Hilda Borgström (Ingeborg Holm), Aron Lindgren (Sven Holm), Erik Lindholm (impiegato del negozio). Prod.: Svenska Biografteatern. 35mm. L.: 1326 m. D.: 73′ a 16 f/s. Bn.
I wonder if any film from 1913 is as tough, as total in its social commentary, or as modern in its gesture, as Ingeborg Holm. Sjöström’s first masterpiece is as crystallized and noble as Bycicle Thief; it is as ingenious as anything from Mizoguchi, even creating a central situation every bit as hard as the toughest idea in The Life of O-Haru – a woman, separated violently from society (and by society) is taken away from her biological child, and can see him only from a distance. Years later the son returns from the sea. He has a picture of his mother as a young woman, but now he faces a prematurely old woman interned in a mental hospital… Insanity had been shown before in films, but only to shock, not as the presentation of a medical case. This vision indicates even more: two illnesses side by side, the individual case of an unhappy woman punished for her lowly social origins and the illness of the social body. Sjöström’s exceptional range was there from the beginning: the combination of an actual (documented), tough social picture along with fully realized images of the individual, plunging into inner mental layers. No one else in film history had achieved this before him. His filmic strategies ranged the full scale, from naturalism to experimental, including an amazing capacity to absorb the lessons and achievements of the best literature and theater of the time. Sjöström belongs with the giants who fully integrated theater into their conception of filmmaking, equal to Welles, Bergman, Visconti and few others who could use their understanding of theater as a source of doubly original filmic expression.
Peter von Bagh
A 35mm full frame inter-positive was made from a nitrate negative source in 1969, from which a down-sized academy ratio duplicate negative was made in 1973. Sometime later, a previously lost censorship cut was discovered, and inserted into the duplicate negative, from which this viewing print was struck in 1986. The inter-titles in the film come from a complete set of title cards held in the non-film collections of the Svenska Filminstitutet, probably originating from a later date than 1913