Thursday, July 21, 2016
Ingeborg Holm (Sweden, 1913)
Failmaker Victor Seastrom was still completely unknown in Hollywood back to 1913, but when he finally reached fame in the United States in the 1920s he already had a solid cinematic career in his native Sweden and made films good enough to still be appreciated by nowadays’ audiences, as this film shows.
Making a good use of Swedish countryside landscapes and portraying family life of 1910s, this film is the witness of a lifestyle that has been gone for a long time, even in Scandinavian countries. Manual labor might have been strenous, but the bigger families seemed more united and life simpler. Or perhaps it is just modern audiences romanticizing the lives of Northern Europe peasants, but it is quite interesting to see how they lived, considering how urbanized most of the world has become.
At that era, in many countries, the passing of the husband/father of the family represented a big social and financial loss to the family, specially if the wife was left with small children to be raised.
Ingeborg Holm lived a happy and prosperous life with her husband and children, but it all comes to a end when her husband gets sick and passes away with what looks like tuberculosis, a rather deadly disease at that era.
She tried to keep the grocery market, but the business eventually bankrupted. She was broke, ended up under poverty relief and separated from her children, who were taken to foster parents.
Unfortunately one of Ingeborg’s children gets ill and needs to undergo a operation and she run away from the shelter where she lived to see her child. After a while, the policemen managed to find Ingeborg and arrest her. The toll of all suffering of being widow and without her kids took a huge toll on Ingeborg and she was permanently mentally impaired.
Fifteen years pass and it shows one of Ingeborg’s children visiting her after spending some time at the sea. Her mental health did not really progress and she could not even recognize her grown up son at first. After a while, he explained to his mother who he was and Ingeborg realized it was her son.
The transition of time between the time when Ingeborg got hopelessly mentally impaired and the visit of her adult son was a little bit abrupt, though. And it could have been shown what happened with the other Ingebor’g kids. What about the sick kid? Was the operation successful or did the kid pass away? It was not mentioned and perhaps it would help the time transition being a bit more natural.
Although the acting of main actors was a bit over the top and stagey, considering the naturalistic Hollywoodian-like acting, which would soon become the standard in cinema, the film stood well the test of time. It showed a fairly realistic situation in the society of the era, rural life was also still relatively common. The camera work was nice and the imagery of film was very pleasant to the eyes, good lighting and characterization too.