Charles Magnusson - Writer




Producer and director. Nationality: Swedish. Born: Göteborg, 26 January 1878. Career: Professional photographer from 1894; 1905—newsreel cameraman; 1907—founded Swedish Cinematographic Society; 1909—named director of first Swedish studio, Svenska Biografteatern: first film, Varmlanningarne ; located in Kristianstad until 1911, then in Stockholm; 1912—hired Stiller and Sjöström as directors; 1919–28—production chief of Svensk Filmindustri. Died: In Stockholm, 18 January 1948.


Films as Producer:


1909

Varmlanningarne (Engdahl) (+ sc); Spiskroksvalsen (+ d); Sjörövaren (+ d); Fiskarvals från Bohuslän (+ d); När jag var Prins Utav Arkadien (+ d); Nattmarschen i Sankt Eriks Gränd (+ d); Minnen fran Bostonklubben ( Memories from the Boston Club ) (+ d + sc); Brollopet pa Ulfasa (Engdahl) (+ sc); Fanrik Stals Sagner (Engdahl) (+ sc)

1910

Faderulla, ur Göteborgssystemet I . . . (+ d); Pick Me Up, ur Flickorna Jackson (+ d); Nu gar jag till Maxim (+ d); Entres angen, ur Dollarprinsessan (+ d); Urfeus i underjorden ( Orpheus in the Underworld ) (+ d + sc)

1911

Järnbäraren ( Iron-Carrier ) (Linden); Sjömansdansen (+ d); Amuletten ( The Talisman ) (+ d)

1912

Det gröna halsbandet ( The Green Necklace ) (+ d); Samhallets dom ( The Justice of Society ) (Jaenzon) (+ sc); Kolingens galoscher (Jaenzon) (+ sc); Tva Svenska emigranters aventyr i Amerika ( The Adventures of Two Swedish Emigrants in America ) (Jaenzon) (+ sc); Branningar, eller Stulen lycka (Jaenzon) (+ sc); De svarta maskerna ( The Black Masks ) (Stiller); Dodshoppet farn circkuskupolen (af Klercker); Mor och dotter ( Mother and Daughter ) (Stiller); Trädgardsmästaren ( The Gardener ) (Sjöström); Ett hemligt giftermäl ( A Secret Marriage ) (Sjöström); I livets vår, eller Forsta alskarinnan ( In the Spring of Life, or His First Love ) (Garbagny); Den tryanniske fästmannen ( The Tyrannical Fiancee ) (Stiller); Skandalen ( Scandal ) (af Klercker); Vampyren ( Vampire ) (Stiller); En sommarsaga ( A Summer Tale ) (Sjöström); Barnet ( The Child ) (Stiller)

1913

Löjen och tårar ( Ridicule and Tears ) (Sjöström); När kärleken dödar ( When Love Kills ) (Stiller); Lady Marions sommarflirt ( Lady Marion's Summer Flirtation ) (Sjöström); Ingeborg Holm ( Give Us This Day ) (Sjöström); Gränsfolken ( The Border Feud ) (Stiller); Miraklet ( The Miracle ) (Sjöström); Halvblod ( Halfbreed ) (Sjöström)

1914

Prästen ( The Priest ) (Sjöström); Strejken ( Strike ) (Sjöström); Stormfågeln ( The Stormy Petrel ) (Stiller); Gatans barn ( Children of the Street ) (Sjöström); Det roda tornet ( The Master ) (Stiller); Högfjällets dotter ( Daughter of the Mountains ) (Sjöström)

1915

Madame de Thèbes (Stiller); Hans bröllopsnatt ( His Wedding Night ) (Stiller)

1916

Rösen på Tistelön ( The Rose of Thistle Island ) (Sjöström); Karlek och journalistik ( Love and the Journalist ) (Stiller); Vingarna ( The Wings ) (Stiller); Therese (Sjöström); Den levande mumien ( The Living Mummy ) (F. Magnusson); Vem Skot? (Tallroth); Balettprimadonnan ( Anjuta, the Dancer ) (Stiller)

1917

Terje vigen ( A Man There Was ) (Sjöström); Thomas Graals bästa film ( Thomas Graal's Best Picture ) (Stiller)

1918

Tösen från stormyrtorpet ( The Lass from the Stormy Croft ) (Sjöström); Berg-Ejvind och hans hustru ( The Outlaw and His Wife ) (Sjöström); Thomas Graals bästa barn ( Thomas Graal's Best Child ) (Stiller); Sången om den eldröda blomman ( Song of the Scarlet Flower ) (Stiller)

1919

Ingmarssonerna ( Sons of Ingmar ) (Stiller—2 parts); Dunungen ( The Downey Girl ) (Hedqvist); Herr Arnes pengar ( Sir Arne's Treasure ) (Stiller); Hans nåds testamente ( The Will of His Grace ) (Sjöström); Fiskebyn ( The Fishing Village ) (Stiller)

1920

Klostret it sendomir ( The Monastery of Sendomir ) (Sjöström); Karin Ingmarsdotter ( Karin, Daughter of Ingmar ) (Sjöström); Mästerman ( Master Samuel ) (Sjöström); Prästänkan ( The Parson's Widow ) (Dreyer); Guyrkoviscarna (Brunius); Familjens traditioner (Carlsten); Carolina Rediviva (Hedqvist); Erotikon (Stiller); Johan (Stiller)

1921

Körkarlen ( The Phantom Chariot ) (Sjöström); Vallfarten till Kevlar ( Pilgrimage to Kevlar ) (Hedqvist); Kvarnen (Brunius); Hogre andamal (Carlsten); De landsflyktiga ( The Exiles ) (Stiller); En vildfagel (Brunius)

1922

Vem dömer? ( Love's Crucible ) (Sjöström); Det omrigade huset ( The Surrounded House ) (Sjöström); Gunnar Hedes Saga ( Gunnar Hede's Saga ) (Stiller)

1923

Eld ombord ( The Tragic Ship ) (Sjöström); Harda viljor (Brunius); Johan Ulfstjerna (Brunius); Mälarpirater ( Pirates on Lake Mälar ) (Molander); Karusellen (Buchowetzki); Boman på utstallningen (Brunius); Gösta Berlings Saga ( Gösta Berling's Saga ) (Stiller—2 parts)

1924

En piga blad pigor (Brunius)

1925

Ingmarsarvet ( The Ingmar Inheritance ) (Molander)

1926

Till Osterland ( To the Orient ) (Molander)



Publications


On MAGNUSSON: articles—

Waldekranz, Rune, "Un produttore, una cinematografia," in Bianco e Nero (Rome), July 1960.

Lutro, D., "Da spillefilmen fikk sitt gjennombrudd," in Film & Kino (Oslo), March 1979.


* * *


The Swedish cinema and its early silent masterpieces were largely due to the vision and talent of Charles Magnusson. His knowledge of the technical side of filmmaking (he was a newsreel cameraman) as well as the aesthetics of recording images and controlling performances (he was also a director) made him an ideal producer. His artistic ambitions consciously strove to lend cultural respectability to the movies. Believing that the short farces which dominated the early cinema only exploited the film medium for financial gain, he encouraged his directors to attempt themes of complexity and sophistication. During the period he served as director of Svenska Biografteatern, Magnusson led Sweden to the forefront of world cinema.

One of the many striking characteristics of Swedish silent films is their spectacular use of outdoor settings. Magnusson eschewed the use of studio sets, voicing an opinion that natural locations induced other qualities. His films embody a lyricism previously untapped by the cinema and create a drama between the characters and nature which evolves into a mystical relationship. Taking the actors out of the studio also resulted in another important development: a restraint and realism of performance. Magnusson laid the foundations of a non-theatrical style, in which nature, history, and reality were an essential part, that still influences cinema today. He also initiated the development of longer narrative films based on fine literature and epic folk tales. By obtaining the rights to all of Selma Lagerlöf's work (the greatest of Swedish storytellers) and adapting many of Henrik Ibsen's plays, he provided a source of rich material for the studio to use, material which echoed his interest in nature and Swedish history.

Magnusson firmly centered himself as controlling force of the Swedish film industry, yet he was not dictatorial. He allowed his directors a freedom uncommon for that period. He once commented that "the film producer must be supreme ruler. He alone decides . . . but after he has given the starting signal, he should leave the director in peace. If the director is unworthy of this confidence, he is not fit to be director." The films of Mauritz Stiller and Victor Sjöström, which represent many milestones in the history of cinema, justified Magnusson's faith in them.

Besides his work as a producer, Magnusson was active in many other related fields. He experimented with a stereoscopic film process and instigated the reorganization of the film censorship board. A social reformer, he used his films to make viewers aware of society's inadequacies and injustices. These films were rarely didactic because he realized the importance of interest and the role of identification. Magnusson said that "the action is the picture's Alpha and Omega. It should . . . give opportunities for intensely exciting and interesting situations." His productions during the golden age of Swedish cinema make this tenet crystal clear.

—Greg S. Faller

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