OUTLAW AND HIS WIFE, THE (YOU AND I)(BERG-EGVIND OCH HANS HUST RU)
(director/writer: Victor Sjostrom; screenwriters: Sam Ask/from the play by Jóhann Sigurjónsson; cinematographer: J. Julius; cast: Victor Sjostrom (Berg-Ejvind/Kari), Edith Erastoff (Halla), John Ekman (Arnes), Nils Arehn (Bjorn), Jenny Tschernichin-Larsson (Gudfinna); Runtime: 73; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Charles Magnusson; Kino Video; 1918-silent-Sweden-in Swedish with English subtitles)
“Enjoyable today as a curio.”
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
Victor Sjostrom (“He Who Gets Slapped”/”The Scarlet Letter”/”The Wind”), considered to be the “Father of Swedish Cinema,”sets this overwrought melodrama in mid-19th century Iceland (it was filmed in northern Sweden).
In order to feed his starving family Berg-Ejvind (Victor Sjostrom) steals the parson’s sheep, after the man of the cloth refuses any help. The parson tells the authorities his sheep was stolen and accuses Ejvind, and he’s given a ten year sentence. Ejvind escapes from jail and southern Sweden, and lives in the northern mountains for a year. Faced with hunger, a thief and itinerant worker (John Ekman) steers him to the farm of the wealthy recent widow Halla (Edith Erastoff, later becoming the director’s wife). Ejvind goes by the name of Kari and is hired by the kind-hearted widow. But her jealous mean-spirited bailiff brother-in-law (Nils Arehn) wants revenge after she rejects his marriage proposal, reminding him that he advised his brother not to marry her because she was a servant. When the bailiff learns of Kari’s true identity, he tries to arrest him. Halla, madly in love with Kari, marries him without a parson, and the two flee together to the mountains of Iceland as she abandons her vast estate. In Iceland they have a child and struggle against their fears, their loneliness and from the extreme weather conditions.
The fatalist film is noted for its grand shots of nature and the majestic landscape, linking it to the human emotions. It’s effectively tuned into nature’s cycle, with summer being the time of hope and winter the time of despair. The characters are bound by the laws of nature and told they can’t escape their fate, in this passionate melodrama that’s based on the play by Jóhann Sigurjónsson. Enjoyable today as a curio.
REVIEWED ON 9/13/2011 GRADE: B