Sog.: from the novel Laulu tulipunaisesta kukasta (1905) by Johannes Linnankoski. Scen.: Mauritz Stiller, Harald B. Harald. F.: Ragnar Westfelt, Henrik Jaenzon. M.: Tom Bret. Scgf.: Axel Esbensen. Mus.: Armas Järnefelt. Int.: Lars Hanson (Olof Koskela), Greta Almroth (Annikki), Lillebil Christensen (Elli), Louise Fahlman (madre di Olof), Axel Hultman (padre di Olof), Edith Erastoff (Kyllikki), Hjalmar Peters (padre di Kyllikki), John Ekman (capo zatteriere). Prod.: AB Svenska Filmindustri. DCP. D.: 101’. Tinted and toned.
The film is based on the novel by Finnish writer Johannes Linnankoski about a farmer’s son Olof (Lars Hanson) who after being expelled from home works as a log driver but cannot get the daughter from the neighbouring farm out of his mind. The film was shot in the summer of 1918 by the river Faxälven in northern Sweden and in the studios of AB Svenska Biografteatern outside Stockholm. Stiller’s version arguably remains the best of the four adaptations made for the screen (the others were directed by Branner in 1934, Tulio in 1938 and Molander in 1956).
Sången om den eldröda blomman has all the trademarks of the films made during the era of Swedish silent cinema often referred to as the Golden Age: it is based on a famous literary source, it was a big-budget production and makes use of outdoor settings to convey the interaction between man and nature. The film’s atmosphere is infused by nature, as in the dance sequence in the beginning, with its lyrical rendering of the nocturnal light of the summer nights. The spectacular scene when Olof rides down a wild river on a log of wood has become emblematic of the Swedish films of the period. As the carefree Olof who finally finds peace within himself, Lars Hanson gives one of the best performances of his career; not least in the scenes where a disillusioned Olof visits bars and brothels in the city. The dialogue with his image in the mirror of a bar is one of the highlights of staging and acting in the film.
Sången om den eldröda blomman is the only Swedish silent film for which an original score exists, written by Armas Järnefelt (1869-1958), the most important and beloved Finnish composer after Sibelius. Järnefelt conducted the orchestra himself at the opening at the Röda Kvarn theatre in Stockholm in April 1919. In this centennial year of the film, and 150 years after Järnefelt’s birth, Sången om den eldröda blomman can be seen in a restored version, which includes a soundtrack of the original music, performed by the Gävle Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Jaakko Kuusisto, who also re-orchestrated the score for a full orchestra.