A Man There Was / Ingeborg Holm
Based on an epic poem by Henrik Ibsen, a Man There Was is commonly cited as the film that launched Sweden's first golden age of filmmaking. Set during the Napoleonic Wars, it tells the story of a fisherman so desperate to obtain food for his starving family that he tries to break through a British blockade, only to find himself at the mercy of extraordinary forces. Victor Sjostrom (The Outlaw And His Wife), who not only directs but also plays the leading role, was renowned for his ability to exploit Sweden's incredible locations. A Man There Was is no exception, and Julius Janenzon's cinematography stunningly captures the harsh, unforgiving quality of the ever present sea. Critic Andrew Sarris once speculated, "It is possible that Victor Sjostrom was the world's first great director, even before Chaplin and Griffith." Sjostrom would later have a notable career in Hollywood, directing Lillian Gish in such silent classics as the Scarlet Letter And the Wind.