These notes accompany the screening of The Wind, May 26, 27, and 28 in Theater 3.
As we draw toward the end of the silent period, I recognize that Victor Sjöström (1879–1960)—”Victor Seastrom” during his MGM years—has been somewhat neglected in this series. We did show his early Ingeborg Holm (1913), and several clips appeared in the documentary Swedish Cinema Classics, but that is insufficient for a full appreciation of his importance. His work between 1917 and his departure for Hollywood in 1923 (including Terje Vigen, The Outlaw and His Wife, The Phantom Chariot, and his numerous adaptations of Selma Lagerlof novels) place him in the first rank of silent-film directors, and he pioneered the pitfalls of directing himself as an actor before Chaplin, Stroheim, or Keaton. Several of his nine Hollywood films no longer survive, although the two Lillian Gish vehicles, The Scarlet Letter and The Wind, still remain and appear to be the best of the lot. He returned to Europe in 1928, directing only two talkies but continuing to act in Swedish films until his bravura performance for Ingmar Bergman in Wild Strawberries (1957) at the age of seventy-eight.