Transition and Transformation

Victor Sjöström in Hollywood 1923-1930

Bo Florin

Transition and Transformation

Bo Florin

Distributed for Amsterdam University Press

164 pages | 30 halftones | 6 x 9
Paper $37.50 ISBN: 9789089645043 Published August 2013 For sale only in the United States, its dependencies, the Philippines, and Canada
In 1923, the film director Victor Seastrom (né Sjöström), then Sweden’s most renowned filmmaker, was recruited to Hollywood by Goldwyn Pictures, where he made eight silent pictures and one talkie in seven years, among them a 1926 version of The Scarlet Letter. What elements of Swedish cinema did he bring with him to the States, and how were these techniques transformed by Hollywood? This is the first book-length study dedicated to the films of Sjöström (1879–1960) and how he functioned in the studio system of 1920s Hollywood.  Bo Florin explores the ways the director applied his austere and naturalistic film style in a radically different context and discusses how his films were received in Hollywood.  


Introduction – From Sjöström to Seastrom

Sjöström – From National to International

      Lyrical Intimacy as Authorial Style

      National or International in Public Debate

      American Voices on Sjöström

A European in Hollywood – “Name the Man” and the Shift of Production Systems

      Production Cultures

      Contaminating Hollywood

      Stylistic Variations

From Scientist to Clown – “He Who Gets Slapped”

      Sjöström as Hollywood Scriptwriter

      Traces of the Narrator

      The Symbolic Clown

      Transformed Identities

      The Question of Whitefacing

      He, the Clown

A for Adultery – “The Scarlet Letter”

      Hester Prynne and the Spectacle

      An Aesthetics of Light

      Stylistic Devices

Conquering Nature – “The Wind”

      Landscape of the Origins

      Framing the Wind

      Shattering the Frame

      From Physical Space to Mental Space

      The Final Crossover

Fragmented Pieces – Writing the History of the Lost Hollywood Films

      Authorial Imprints: “Confessions of a Queen”

      Lagerlöf in Hollywood: “The Tower of Lies”

      “The Divine Woman” – From Bernhardt to Garbo

      A Strange Interlude: “The Masks of the Devil”

The Shadow of the Silents – “A Lady to Love”

      One Film, Two Versions

      The Transition to Sound

      The Transition from Silents

      Europeans in Hollywood

The Genius and the System – Some Concluding Remarks





Review Quotes
Kristin Thompson | University of Wisconsin-Madison
"Victor Sjöström is unquestionably one of the filmmaking giants of the silent era, though most modern film scholars and fans know his work through only a small handful of classics. A systematic study of his Hollywood period is most welcome. Apart from knowing his subject thoroughly, Bo Florin combines traditional auteurism with more sophisticated historiographical methods to provide an impressive analysis." 
Richard Koszarski | Rutgers University
"In this compact study of Sjostrom’s Hollywood career, Bo Florin fleshes out this story through a close examination of the surviving films--some newly discovered--and revealing internal documents pulled from long-neglected studio files."

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