Director David Bradley was a college kid in Chicago when he produced three ambitious amateur films starring his pal, seventeen year old Charleton Heston, & a host of amateur actors.
These films would get both director & young Heston Hollywood's attention. While Heston would end up playing such roles as Moses & John the Baptist, Bradley would be directing the likes of They Saved Hitler's Brain (1963).
The best of those youthfully ambitious films was the third, Peer Gynt (1941), based on the Henrik Ibsen play. The action opens in 1871 in Norway, in reality a Norwegion styled town in Wisconsin & areas around the Great Lakes doubling surprisingly well as fjords.
Peer is a dreamer, bumbler, & wastrel, slightly feral, like an elemental of the land. He is regarded a menace by men of good standing, & a hotty by the gals, whose lives he has an easy ability to ruin.
He becomes the focus of pagan rituals of fertility & revenge, having stumbled upon or been led to unusual happenings one night. There's a man with a demonic face, together with a group of children in masks. To the musical soundtrack's "The Sorcerer's Apprentice" the kids dance around a campfire. An old woman plays an absurd harp.
Masked pagans appear from every quarter to dance round & round our hero who is by now bound to a stake.
Freed of the stake, shirtless & buff, Peer flees the unwanted rituals & those who had tried to sacrifice him. He's pursued by a floating glowing head that calls itself the demon Boyg. The floating head speaks with sound, though this is otherwise a silent film with dialogue cards.
Apparently cursed by the region of his birth & misdoings, Peer sets off into the world, travelling as far as Morocco. He makes a fortune as a trader, but is just as easily defrauded of all he possessed. Without bitterness, & disguised as an Arab prince, he rebuilds his fortunes, but ruins another woman's life in the process, & flees her relations' desire for vengeance.
Many years pass before he returns to Norway, discovvering that the place of fjords & forests has fallen into desolation. People still speak of him as though of a nature-god that dwelt among them for a time, but none recognize him, until he finds himself haunted by strange men critical of his wastral existence, themselves perhaps elementals or spirits.
When Death comes for him he begs for one more chance to be faithful to Solvieg & sort out the failures of his soul. And that second chance is granted. Quite an odd film all in all, paced to the Peer Gynt Suites of Edvard Grieg.
copyright © by Paghat the Ratgirl