Sog.: da un poema di Henrik Ibsen; Scen.: Gustaf Molander, Victor Sjöström; F.: Julius Jaenzon; Scgf.: Axel Esbensen, Jens Wang; Cost.: A. Bloch; Int.: Victor Sjöström (Terje Vigen), August Falk (il capitano), Edith Erastoff (la moglie del capitano), Bergliot Husberg (la moglie di Terje); Prod.: Charles Magnusson per Svenska Biografteatern 35mm. L.: 1081 m. D.: 56’ a 17 f/s. Tinted.
A lot has been said and written about Terje Vigen as the film that gave the Swedish film industry a much-needed cultural boost, helping the new medium to be recognized as an art form. It is also a well-known fact that the commercial success of the film led production company Svenska Biografteatern to change their policy, to concentrate on producing fewer but more prestigious films, and even though Terje Vigen was by no means the first Swedish film to be set in natural locations, the film’s depiction of Man’s struggle against Nature set a precedent for films to come.
Sjöström’s adaption of Henrik Ibsen’s long poem is a powerful drama telling the story of how the ageing Terje tries to come to terms with his feelings of vengeance and loss. Less than an hour long, Terje Vigen is also a film about duration, not only because of the time-span of the story, but also in the structure and set-up of individual shots. Despite the fact that the film covers many years, Sjöström at times lets the camera register some of the action in real time even when it is not motivated by the narrative, as in the scene where Terje leaves his wife going out to sea.
Apart from a few shots never seen before, this latest print of Terje Vigen also respects the film’s original full-frame aspect ratio, and the picture quality is immensely better compared to previous restorations. The viewing print recreates the colours of the original nitrate using the Desmet method. The film was never released with Swedish intertitles, as the titles are direct quotations from a poem by Ibsen.
The German edit of the film is slightly different, and apart from inserting the new titles, the editing of the new negative follows the original Swedish release version. A second negative (and subsequent print) from the nitrate, following the nitrate’s editing and only adding missing beginning and end of act titles, was made in 2006 in Stockholm on behalf of Filmmuseum München.
Jon Wengström, Cinemateket-Svenska Filminstitutet, Stockholm