Synopsis by Hal Erickson
Known under a variety of titles, The Atonement of Gosta Berling is an excellent representation of the Swedish silent cinema. Long, complex, and elaborately produced, the film nonetheless never loses sight of the human elements which motivate the story. Lars Hanson stars as Berling, a defrocked priest whose rebellious attitude hides a greater sense of idealism than most of his "pious" contemporaries. Among the women in Berling's life is a supposedly married countess, played with instinctive brilliance by a young, awkward, chubby Greta Garbo. Overflowing with betrayals, revenge, and regeneration, Atonement of Gosta Berling has enough plots for ten films. American audiences generally saw a severely truncated version, running approximately half the film's original length. What was left was enough for MGM to invite director Mauritz Stiller and star Greta Garbo to Hollywood, though in typically callous big-studio fashion, Garbo was retained while Stiller was permitted to wither on the vine.
priest, betrayal, excommunication, forbidden-love, morals, revenge, alcoholism, marriage, redemption, bishop, courage, extramarital-affair
High Historical Importance