A horror swashbuckler set in the 16th Century, Sir Arne's Treasure (Herr Arne's Pengar, 1919) opens with a conspiracy among Scottish mercenaries to the King of Sweden.
The mercenaries' three leaders are arrested & sent to the Tower, where their high spirits remain undashed. An inept & purposely harrassing turnkey inadvertenly provides opportunity for escape.
Beautifully filmed, our three mercenaries disguise themselves as wandering tanners in search of work, while trying to make their way to the coast hoping to find passage home to Scotland.
A Swede, Torarin (Axel Nilsson), is away with his sleigh, horse, & dog, intending to visit Sir Arne, the vicar (Hjalmar Selander).
Arne is a dignified & wealthy old fellow, possessing a chest of gold.
Sir Arne's wife (Concordia Selander) has second sight & is forwarned by a vision of the three mercenaries sharpening their knives.
Although the Scottish wanderers at first seemed like they might be only moderately roguish adventurers, the hardships of the Swedish winter brings them all too easily to the occupation of brigands.
And when they set their eyes on the vicarage, they don't settle for theft alone, but slaughter the whole family & set fire to the place before carting off the silver.
Elsalill (Mary Johnson) is the only survivor. The poor young woman is taken in by Torarin & his mother.
Elsalill has fallen into a condition of perpetual grief & depression over the loss of her family.
The following spring the three mercenaries return, now wealthy men posing as gentlemen, waiting for the fjords' ice to melt so they can cross & journey to Scotland.
One of the Scots, Sir Archi (Richard Lund), falls in love with the girl who doesn't know he's one of the very men against whom she has sworn revenge.
But Sir Archie has a ghost following him. He's haunted by Elsalill's foster sister, one of the victims of the vicarage slaughter.
By the time Elsalill learns Sir Archie is the killer, she has come to love him, & is horridly conflicted, though she will not veer from the road of vengeance.
Based on a novella by Nobel Prize author Selma Lagerlof, Sir Arne's Treasure was a hard-hitting tale from the start, with complex characters.
Director Mauritz Stiller was a true pioneer of sophisticated cinema, who creates such a rich tapestry of place & character that I utterly forgot this was a silent film. A tremendous work of art, horror, & adventure
copyright © by Paghat the Ratgirl