Curated by Jon Wengström

Gustaf Molander made almost 70 films in a career that lasted more than half a century (1917-1968), and his trajectory as a director is parallel to that of the development of the Swedish film industry. He wrote the script to Terje Vigen (Victor Sjöström, 1917), which was the starting point of the golden Age of Swedish silent cinema, and he directed the era’s epilogue with the Selma Lagerlöf adaptations Ingmarsarvet (1925) and its sequel Till Österland (1926). He was one of very few Swedish directors, who handled the transition to sound successfully, as proven by En natt (1931) and En kvinnas ansikte (1938), the latter arguably the best Swedish film of the 1930s. During the 1940s, more than any other Swedish filmmaker, he made films that reflected the war and its aftermath, and after collaborations with a young Ingmar Bergman, including Kvinna utan ansikte (1947), in the 1950s Molander made remakes of classic silent films in colour and CinemaScope, as a response to the advent of television. Molander’s last film, Smycket, is the best episode in the 1967 omnibus film Stimulantia.
Molander was active in many genres, making slapstick and screwball comedies, as well as dramas, period pieces and films for children and young people. He worked with several of the finest cinematographers – Julius Jaenzon, Gunnar Fischer and most of all Åke Dahlquist – and his adaptations of literary works by Lagerlöf and Kaj Munk (Ordet, 1943) are among his best films.
But more than anything else, Molander was an actors’ director, and in particular an actresses’ director. He launched Ingrid Bergman to stardom, and the six films they made together in the 1930s paved the way for her international career. He used the comic talents of Eva Dahlbeck in Fästmö uthyres (1950) several years before her similar parts in Ingmar Bergman’s comedies, and he cast Harriet Andersson as a working-class teenager in Trots (1952), a year before her similar role in Summer with Monika. Other actresses with whom Molander worked at a very early stage in their career include Gunn Wållgren, Inga Landgré, Anita Björk, Ingrid Thulin and Gunnel Lindblom.
Such a long career obviously had its ups and downs, but Molander created great works in each decade during half a century. If one also includes his days as a scriptwriter in the 1910s, we contemplate a career that produced works of lasting importance across six decades: a scope that is rivalled only by a handful of filmmakers such as Fritz Lang and Alfred Hitchcock.
The selection for this programme covers a wide range of genres and eras in Molander’s œuvre, and all the films come from the Archival Film Collections of the Svenska Filminstitutet. They are all either 35mm prints made in contact printing from original or preservation negatives, or recent digital restorations.

Jon Wengström