R: Georg af Klercker, Ragnar Ring. B: Georg af Klercker, Ragnar Ring. K: Henrik Jaenzon. D: Lilly Jacobson, Georg af Klercker. P: Pathé Frères/Stockholm. Sw 1914
Print: Filmarkivet Svenska Filminstitutet
“Count Ivan von Kaunowitz is a foreign officer who is spying for his government. At a ball he meets the charming Ebba von Tell, whose father is a government minister and whose family residence is, coincidentally, situated near the fortifications which the Count has been sent to reconnoitre. The Count is invited to join a hunt with the von Tells. Feigning an emotional interest in Ebba, the Count escorts Ebba away from the hunt. As they ride off, one of Ebba’s friends, a Lapp, accidentally startles Ebba’s horse, whereupon the Count beats the man with his riding-crop. Intent on revenge, the Lapp tails the couple to the vicinity of the fortifications, where Ebba unwittingly helps the Count gain information about the defences. The Count takes out his wallet to give Ebba a ring, but forgets to pick the wallet up when they leave. The Lapp finds the wallet and, growing suspicious of the Count, Ebba reluctantly distances herself from him.
The Count disguises himself as a knife-grinder, and befriends one of Ebba’s friends, Gunhild, a fisherman’s daughter. Attracted to Ivan, Gunhild guides the Count around the terrain close to the fortification. He receives a coded message that the time is right for him to blow up the railway bridge near the fort, and leaves a letter for Gunhild before setting off to blow up the bridge. Before the device can be detonated, he is discovered by the Lapp. They fight, and the Count falls from the bridge. Gunhild finds the Count’s letter, which she shows to Ebba and her family. As they read the letter, the Lapp brings news of the Count’s fall. Ebba and her family rush to the scene and find his body at the river’s edge. As they try to console Ebba, news of the Count’s death reaches his regiment.
With location footage shot in the vicinity of Sollefteå in central Sweden, and interiors shot in Copenhagen, ‘L’Espion d’Œsterland’ (released as För fäderneslandet in Sweden) is a rare example of Klercker’s work as an actor. Playing the part of Count Ivan von Kaunowitz, Klercker gives a well- modulated performance, which was praised by contemporary reviewers. Except for two later extant Hasselbladfilm productions in which Klercker acted, and the incomplete Dödsritten under cirkuskupolen (produced by Svenska Biografteatern in 1912), ‘L’Espion d’Œsterland’ is the only sustained example we have of Klercker as actor. The film is also notable for the occasional use of reverse-field cutting (in the scene where Ivan gives Ebba a ring), the elegant design of some of its interior scenes (particularly those involving Ebba), and stunning nocturnal scenes shot in the fisherman’s cottage. The variety of camera set-ups and shot scales employed for the narrative climax of the film are also unusual in a Swedish-directed production of the mid-1910s.”
Cineteca del Friuli
I kronans kläder
R: Georg af Klercker. B: Oscar Hemberg, Erik Karlholm. K: Sven Pettersson. D: Gustaf Bengtsson, Zara Backman, Dagmar Ebbesen, Gösta Bjorkman, Wiktor “Kulörten” Andersson, Erik ‘Bullen’ Berglund, Manne Göthson. P: Hasselbladfilm. Sw 1915
About Georg af Klercker:
“He was born in Kristianstad, in the south of Sweden, in 1877 in a wealthy and aristocratic family. He enrolled in the military and became a lieutenant. and was consequently referred to as ‘lieutenant af Klercker’ for the rest of his life, including by film critics. But he had artistic ambitions rather than military. More specifically, he had theatre ambitions, and began acting across Sweden and Finland. In 1911 af Klercker was employed by Dramaten (the Royal Dramatic Theatre) in Stockholm. It was from there that Magnusson lured him to his new studio on Lidingö, and made him head of production. The first film af Klercker directed was as part of Magnusson and Svenska Bio’s partnership with the Swedish arm of French company Pathé. Två bröder it was called and it was immediately banned by the Swedish film censorship board. His next film was The Last Performance/Dödsritten under cirkuskupolen (1912), which was released around the world and quite successfully so. (…) He made several films in 1913 but then he became a part-time victim of the falling out between Svenska Bio and Pathé, as af Klercker was directing För fäderneslandet. It was finished in late 1913 but did not open until spring 1914, at which point af Klercker had left Svenska Bio for Pathé. He worked for them for a year and then he went to Hasselblad, where he was to get sole responsibility for the direction of their films. (…)
His films are a varied bunch, although thrillers and melodramas are the most common ones, and most of them have a very rich and evocative mise en scène and an imaginative use of deep focus. There is often an elaborate dynamic interplay between one level of action in the foreground and another level of action towards the back. (This was not unique for af Klercker but had become a recurring stylistic device at least since the early 1910s.) Working at Hasselblad gave him access to the most sophisticated cameras of the day, and he and his different cinematographers took advantage of the possibilities. But he was also good at directing actors, and with an eye for psychological realism.”
Fredrik on Film