Set during the Renaissance, this film tells the story of Ursula, who is trapped in a loveless marriage with Master Anton an old sculptor who idolizes his wife and uses her as a model for a figure of the Madonna. Ursula, however, is in love with Bertram, the young son of her next-door neighbor. When her plot to poison her husband is thwarted by a friar and Master Anton instead dies of a seizure, the city suspects her of murder despite evidence to the contrary. And when the great crucifix in the cathedral weeps tears of blood, suspicions are further aroused, and the crowd demands that Ursula be submitted to the judgment of God in a trial by fire.

A film of extraordinary visual beauty, Love’s Crucible presents an unsparing, psychologically profound examination of marital hatred, guilt, and atonement wrapped inside an atmosphere of legend, old tales, and supernatural visitation. Directed by Victor Sjöström (Sweden, 1922). 87 min.



About the Series

2017 marks the centennial of the start of what has become known as the “Golden Age” of Swedish cinema. This “Golden Age” is commonly regarded in film history as the Swedish film industry’s artistic peak in the years following the success of Victor Sjöström’s Henrik Ibsen adaptation A Man There Was(Terje Vigen), which premiered in January 1917. It is associated with films with large budgets and artistic ambitions, based on acclaimed literary works, and mostly set in a rural milieu, with location anchoring the action in the Scandinavian landscape. These films were often referred to as “national films” because of their reliance on national literature, national landscape, and national costume. There has been a tendency, however, to focus accounts of the Swedish “Golden Age” exclusively on the films made by Victor Sjöström and Mauritz Stiller, leaving out all other Swedish directors who made films in the same style. Many wonderful films have thus slipped from view because they do not match this overly narrow conception of Sweden’s film history.

This two-part film series, which will continue next year, is built around the argument that the first Swedish “Golden Age” films constituted a significant challenge to filmmakers in the neighboring countries, as well as in Sweden itself — aesthetically, commercially, and culturally. By showing a variety of important but lesser-known Swedish “Golden Age” films in combination with artistically connected films from the surrounding countries, we’ll emphasize how the Swedish films functioned as a catalyst in the other Nordic countries for the conception of what a national cinema is and should be.

Special thanks to the Danish Film Institute and the Swedish Film Institute and Pordenone Silent Film Festival.

To purchase a series pass for “The Swedish Challenge,” click here.

Films in the series include:

A Norway Lass /Synnöve SolbakkenTHU—JAN 25
A Mother’s Fight /Thora van DekenFRI—JAN 26
Gypsy Anne /Fante-AnneSAT—JAN 27
Love’s Crucible /Vem dömerSAT—JAN 27
Anna LiisaTHU—FEB 1
The House of Shadows/Morænen—FRI—FEB 2
The Bride of Glomdal /Glomdalsbruden—SAT—FEB 3



Photo Credit: Svenska Filminstitutet, Stockholm

$12 ($7 ASF Members)
Series Pass $45 ($30 ASF Members)