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25 January 2017

Herr Arnes pengar (1919)

The Swedish silent masterpiece Herr Arnes pengar/Sir Arne's Treasure (Mauritz Stiller, 1919) is a crime-drama based on Selma Lagerlöf’s novel The Treasure. Set on the Swedish coast in the 16th century, the film stars Richard Lund as Sir Archie, a Scottish mercenary who has escaped from a Scottish prison and fled to Sweden.

Richard Lund in Sir Arne's Treasure (1919)
Swedish postcard by Nordisk Konst, Stockholm, no. 1078/1. Photo: Richard Lund in Herr Arnes pengar/Sir Arne's Treasure (Mauritz Stiller 1919).

Richard Lund in Sir Arne's Treasure
Swedish postcard by Nordisk Konst, Stockholm, no. 1078/2. Photo: Richard Lund, Bror Berger and Erik Stocklassa in Herr Arnes pengar/Sir Arne's Treasure (Mauritz Stiller, 1919). Caption: In Prison.

Forces of nature can't be conquered


Swedish film and theatre actor Richard Lund (1885–1960) was a prolific star of the early Scandinavian cinema. He worked for the two most important Swedish directors of the silent era, Victor Sjöström and Mauritz Stiller. The crime drama Herr Arnes pengar (1919) was directed by the latter.

Lund plays a Scottish mercenary who, together with his cronies Sir Donald (Bror Berger) and Sir Filip (Erik Stocklassa), has escaped from a Scottish prison and fled to Sweden.

There he murders the family of Sir Arne to obtain a treasure, after which he unknowingly starts an affair with the daughter of the murdered family, Elsalill (Mary Johnson).

Sir Arne’s Treasure still goes as one of if not the masterpiece of the Swedish silent cinema. Jerzy Toeplitz wrote in his Geschichte des Films (1972): “As with Sjöström, Nature plays a leading role in Stiller. Already in the first images the snow creates the atmosphere of the action. In the tragic finale, the sea becomes a contributor. In the small port of Marstrand lies the ship that should return the Scots to their home. But it is wedged by ice floes. [...]

When the situation is strained to the utmost, because the forces of nature can't be conquered, in the city the news spreads that the criminals want to flee. In the battle with the town guards, Elsalill dies and Sir John Archie is captured. A long train of grey-clad women arrives at the ship to take off the corpse of Elsalill, after which the ice bursts, and the occupied ship begins to move. Too late the silent, dangerous sea shows up.”

Richard Lund in Sir Arne's Treasure
Swedish postcard by Nordisk Konst, Stockholm, no. 1078/4. Photo: Richard Lund, Bror Berger and Erik Stocklassa in Herr Arnes pengar/Sir Arne's Treasure (Mauritz Stiller, 1919). Caption: The Robbers' Escape.

Richard Lund in Sir Arne's Treasure
Swedish postcard by Nordisk Konst, Stockholm, no. 1078/8. Photo: Richard Lund, Bror Berger and Erik Stocklassa in Herr Arnes pengar/Sir Arne's Treasure (Mauritz Stiller, 1919). Caption: On the Lookout.

Richard Lund in Sir Arne's Treasure
Swedish postcard by Nordisk Konst, Stockholm, no. 1078/12. Photo: Richard Lund and Mary Johnson in Herr Arnes pengar/Sir Arne's Treasure (Mauritz Stiller, 1919). Caption: They have come now to arrest you, escape!

Sources: Jerzy Toeplitz (Geschichte des Films - German), Wikipedia and IMDb.

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