Sjöström, Victor David (1879–1960) By Hortelano, Lorenzo J. Torres
Victor Sjöström (also known as victor Seastrom) was a Swedish film director, screenwriter, and actor. He is, with Mauritz Stiller, the joint founding father of Swedish cinema and a pioneer of silent film art. His first worldwide success, Ingeborg Holm (1913), was a drama heralding what would be the hallmarks of his cinema: a strong sense of truth, a refined form of expression (he studied painting in his youth), slow pacing, representations of nature enveloped in violent mysticism, but also a strong sense of realism exemplified by Strejken [The Strike] (1914), for some scenes were shot during a real strike. In 1915 he initiated his golden age: Terje Vigen [A Man There Was] (1916), Berg-Ejvind och hans hustru [The Outlaw and his Wife] (1918) and Ingmarssönerna [Sons of Ingmar] (1918). These works are full of flashbacks, daring camera movements, crossfades and point-of-view shots which denote a free modernist narrative. One of the last films he made before leaving for Hollywood due to the crisis in Swedish cinema was the fantasy drama Körkarlen [The Phantom Carriage] (1921). After a difficult period adapting to the United States, he filmed, true to his style, what is probably his masterpiece: The Wind (1928) with Lillian Gish. Although it was a commercial failure, he discovered his favorite subject: the individual struggle against a hostile universe sustained by love and faith. He never made a ful transition to the talkies, so after some minor movies, he devoted himself to acting. His final performance was as the elderly professor in Ingmar Bergman’s Smultronstället [Wild Strawberries] (1957).