Review - "The Saga of Gosta Berling" (1924) (Svensk Filmindustri)

WriterDave By WriterDave, 11th Jun 2013 | Follow this author | RSS Feed
Posted in Wikinut>Reviews>Film & TV>Romance

Silent film is worthy of attention and surprisingly current in its themes, stories, and relevance. "The Artist" proved that a silent film could still garner critical acclaim and audience's praise. Many actors that went on to stellar careers in the 1930's and 40's, started out in the silent film genre.

Garbo's First Smash Success

Second only to “Sunrise” as the best silent film ever made, “The Saga of Gosta Berling” is an epic wonder. It’s kind of like watching the Swedish “Gone with the Wind.” “Gosta Berling” is Mauritz Stiller’s three hour masterpiece. It is also the film which made Greta Garbo a star. Garbo, pleasantly pudgy in “Gosta Berling,” fills her performance with sensual, meaningful looks; one recognizes her talent and future stardom immediately. Even in this early film, 25 pounds heavier, with crooked teeth, frizzy long hair, and earthy hips, she is an elegant beauty.

Lars Hanson plays the title role - a mad hero who finds his way to redemption through three women: his first love who spurns him, an older benefactress, and finally Garbo herself. It is when Garbo comes on screen, that we are fully drawn into the tale however, albeit Hanson is quite good as 'Berling.'

The updated soundtrack (on the reissued Kino DVD) by Matti Bye provides an excellent musical accompaniment - its haunting, poetic piano notes and straining ethereal violins are positively goose bump inducing.

The attention to detail by Stiller is uncompromising. The scene in which Hanson and Garbo’s characters are piloting a sled and are suddenly pursued by timber wolves is done so realistically, it seems simply as if they really are being chased by these daunting creatures! The stunts are seamless and one can't tell whether or not they used stunt people or the actors themselves.

The DVD extras offer unique bonus shorts via Garbo’s first acting attempts circa 1920-22. It’s a must see for any Garbo fan. For those who might think silent pictures are passe or irrelevant, “The Saga of Gosta Berling," is a wonderful introduction to the genre. It illustrates the power and scope that silent film could be. “Gosta Berling" is exquisitely entertaining from start to finish.


Greta Garbo, Lars Hanson, Mauritz Stiller

Meet the author

author avatar WriterDave
Writing can be many things to many people. For me, it is a way of expression and understanding. Reviewing films, hopefully helps myself and others better understand and get more out of the film.

Share this page

moderator Peter B. Giblett moderated this page.
If you have any complaints about this content, please let us know


Add a comment
Can't login?