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05 October 2017

Synnöve Solbakken (1919)

This week we follow one of our favourite festivals, Le Gionate del Cinema Muto in Pordenone, Italy.  One of the main films in the Scandinavia programme of the festival is the Swedish silent melodrama Synnöve Solbakken/A Norway Lass (John W. Brunius,1919). Palle Brunius (1909-1976) and Solveig Hedengran (1910-1956) play the same characters as the stars of the film, Karin Molander and Lars Hanson, but then in their childhood.

Synnöve solbakken (1919)
Swedish postcard by Axel Eliassons Kontsforlag, Stockholm, no. 133. Photo: Skandia Film. Still with Palle Brunius and Solveig Hedengran in Synnöve Solbakken (1919).

Karin Molander and Lars Hanson in Synnöve Solbakken (1919)
Swedish postcard by Axel Eliassons Konstförlag, Stockholm, no. 127. Photo: Skandiafilm. Still for Synnöve Solbakken (1919) with Karin Molander and Lars Hanson. Sent by mail in Norway in 1920.

Lars Hanson and Karin Molander in Synnöve Solbakken
Swedish postcard by Axel Eliassons Konstförlag, Stockholm, no. 131. Photo: Skandiafilm. Still for Synnöve Solbakken (1919) with Karin Molander and Lars Hanson.

Love Vows


Synnöve Solbakken/A Norway Lass (John W. Brunius, 1919) was based on the popular peasant story by Norwegian writer Bjørnstjerne Bjørnson, who in 1903 became the Nobel laureate in Literature. Synnøve Solbakken was his debut novel, first published in 1857.

Synnöve (Solveig Hedengran) lives with her parents at the farm Solbakken on a sunny hill. Thorbjörn (Palle Brunius), who lives at Granliden in the shadow of a big mountain, often looks wistfully up to Solbakken.

As teenagers they meet and fall in love. Another boy, Knud Nordhaug (Gösta Cederlund), is also yearning for Synnöve. Together with some companions he bullies Thorbjörn, who knocks them down.

When Knud meets Synnöve's father, he gets him to believe that it is Thorbjörn who is the bully. Synnöve's parents forbid her to meet Thorbjörn henceforth.

Some years later Knud proposes to Synnöve, but is turned down. At Midsummer Eve, Thorbjörn (Lars Hanson) and Synnöve (Karin Molander) meet secretly. They renew their love-vows, and Thorbjörn promises to develop a better reputation in the village...

Synnöve Solbakken
Swedish postcard by Axel Eliasson's Konstförlag, Stockholm, no. 126. Photo: Skandia Film. Publicity still for Synnöve Solbakken (John W. Brunius, 1919). The caption Haugianermötet (Meeting of the Haugian Movement) refers to a Norwegian religious reform movement. This image was copied from a well-known painting: Adolph Tidemand's Haugianere (1852). In the novel and film of Synnöve Solbakken, the heroine is presented as a Haugean with a similar purity and commitment to her bethrothed, Thorbjörn.

Synnöve Solbakken
Swedish postcard by Axel Eliasson's Konstförlag, Stockholm, no. 127. Photo: Skandia Film. Publicity still for Synnöve Solbakken (John W. Brunius, 1919), starring Lars Hanson and Karin Molander.

Synnöve Solbakken
Swedish postcard by Axel Eliasson's Konstförlag, Stockholm, no. 128. Photo: Skandia Film. Publicity still for Synnöve Solbakken (John W. Brunius, 1919), with Solveig Hedengran.

Synnöve Solbakken
Swedish postcard by Axel Eliasson's Konstförlag, Stockholm, no. 129. Photo: Skandia Film. Publicity still for Synnöve Solbakken (John W. Brunius, 1919), starring Lars Hanson, who is is confronted here with Gösta Cederlund.

Karin Molander in Synnöve Solbakken
Swedish postcard by Axel Eliasson's Konstförlag, Stockholm, no. 130. Photo: Skandia Film. Publicity still for Synnöve Solbakken (John W. Brunius, 1919), starring Karin Molander.

A Handful of Child Roles


Paul Gomer 'Palle' Brunius (1909-1976) was the son of the director John W. Brunius and actress-director Pauline Brunius. He would only play child roles in films by his parents.

Solveig Hedengran (1910-1956) instead acted in some 28 films, mostly Swedish sound films and often supporting parts. Synnöve Solbakken (1919) was her first film.

The film, shot in Gudbrandsdal in Norway, was a huge success in theatres throughout Scandinavia and became a thematic guide for Norwegian film production in the 1920s.

Synnöve Solbakken would be remade twice. In 1934, Tancred Ibsen directed an early sound version with Karin Ekelund as Synnöve and legendary director Victor Sjöström in a supporting part.

The third version of Synnöve Solbakken was released in 1954 by Gunnar Hellström with Synnøve Strigen in the title role.

Synnöve Solbakken
Swedish postcard by Axel Eliasson's Konstförlag, Stockholm, no. 131. Photo: Skandia Film. Publicity still for Synnöve Solbakken (John W. Brunius, 1919), starring Lars Hanson and Karin Molander. Here we see also Hjalmar Peters and Ingrid Sandahl, who play Synnöve's parents.

Synnöve Solbakken
Swedish postcard by Axel Eliasson's Konstförlag, Stockholm, no. 132. Photo: Skandia Film. Publicity still for Synnöve Solbakken (John W. Brunius, 1919) with Egid Eide and Palle Brunius.

Synnöve Solbakken
Swedish postcard by Axel Eliasson's Konstförlag, Stockholm, no. 134. Photo: Skandia Film. Publicity still for Synnöve Solbakken (John W. Brunius, 1919), starring Lars Hanson and Karin Molander.

Synnöve Solbakken
Swedish postcard by Axel Eliasson's Konstförlag, Stockholm, no. 135. Photo: Skandia Film. Publicity still for Synnöve Solbakken (John W. Brunius, 1919) with Karin Molander and Ellen Dall.

Synnöve Solbakken
Swedish postcard by Axel Eliasson's Konstförlag, Stockholm, no. 136. Photo: Skandia Film. Publicity still for Synnöve Solbakken (John W. Brunius, 1919) with Karin Molander and Ellen Dall.

Midsummer dance in Synnøve Solbakken
Swedish postcard by Axel Eliasson's Konstförlag, Stockholm, no. 137. Photo: Skandia Film. Publicity still for Synnöve Solbakken (John W. Brunius, 1919). The mid-summer dance.


Scene from Synnöve Solbakken (1919). Source: Norsk Filminstitutt.

Sources: Filmarkivet.no (Norwegian), Wikipedia and IMDb.

1 comment:

Scott Lord said...

Thank you, I'll be studying the film.

Scott Lord