Ingmarssonerna (1919)

INGMARSSONERNA (1919)
aka Sons of Ingmar
Article 5176 by Dave Sindelar
Date: 6-5-2016
Directed by Victor Sjostrom
Featuring Victor Sjostrom, Harriett Bosse, Tore Svennberg
Country: Sweden
What it is: Drama

When a farmer sets up an arranged marriage with a woman who detests him, circumstances fall out so that a scandal emerges. In the wake of that, the farmer and the woman both have some hard decisions to make…

The fantastic content isn’t apparent from the above plot description, but the content is there, pops up early in the proceedings, and actually plays an important role in establishing the state of mind of the farmer and focusing one of the main themes of the movie. The content itself involves the farmer either dreaming or imagining that he climbs a ladder to heaven in order to consult with his deceased father about a difficult decision. I know I was a little confused by the title of the movie (which implies that it’s about several sons of Ingmar rather than just the one who centers in the plot), but it’s this sequence in heaven which establishes that the title doesn’t refer to characters, but rather to a whole filial ethical tradition.

The movie falls roughly into two parts. The first (told in flashback in heaven) deals with a series of events that result in the death of an illegitimate baby. The second half deals with the moral and ethical decisions made by both the farmer and the woman in determining what the right thing to do would be in the aftermath of these events. These decisions require wisdom, strength, and (most especially) knowledge; in this case, doing the right thing requires that each character knows how the other character truly feels. If you get caught up in the lives of these characters (and it’s an easy thing to do given the excellent performances by both Sjostrom and Bosse), then the final thirty minutes of the movie is surprisingly gripping, especially as both characters need to gain the necessary knowledge in order to act correctly. I really got into this movie, though with a couple of caveats. One is that the very ending seems a little pat and a bit hard to swallow. The other is that in some ways, I can’t judge the whole movie; it originally ran three and a half hours, and my print is only about two-thirds that length, and though I really enjoyed this version, I think it’s quite possible that another hour and fifteen minutes of it would have dulled my enthusiasm. At any rate, this version was excellent.

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