Oct 21-22: a pair of Scandinavian films

Oct 21 and 22 found me back at MoMA’s Bartos theater accompanying a pair of films from my one of my favorite corners of the planet, Scandinavia. Afgrunden and Ingeborg Holm were screened, both in 35mm prints. MoMA’s print of The Abyss is okay; there’s a bit of decomp, but it’s complete. The print of Ingeborg Holm was very good.

There is a shift in Ingeborg Holm, about a third of the way through, after Ingeborg’s husband passes away, when the film stops being about this family with a nice home and a shop that the husband works at to being about Ingeborg’s journey of mourning, heartache over her separation from her children and, eventually, into madness where you’re just watching actress Hilda Borgström. I found myself completely drawn in at both shows, getting completely lost in the film, connecting with Borgström’s beautifully subtle and subdued performance and creating the music to support it. Sjöstrom’s direction is so wonderful and artistic, you forget that the film is largely comprised of long takes and well-composed wide-shots the actors play their scene in and through. And this is in 1913. There’s so much meat up on the screen, the film is a delight to play for. I’d have to say the last time I got that lost in a mood-piece of a film like this was Julien Duvivier’s La Vie miraculeuse de Therese Martin, which I played for at MoMA in May.

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