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Film / The Outlaw and His Wife

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The Outlaw and His Wife is a 1918 film from Sweden directed by Victor Sjöström. It is a milestone in early Swedish cinema.

It is set in the 18th century and is loosely based on a real-life story of an Icelandic outlaw. Halla is a young widow maintaining her late husband's farm. Her brother-in-law Bjorn makes an offer of marriage, but Halla angrily rejects him, Bjorn having opposed Halla's marriage to his brother.

Into this situation arrives Kari (Sjöström), a wanderer from down south who has arrived in the area looking for work. Halla takes a liking to him and lets him stay on at the farm. Soon that liking is blossoming into love and Halla is designating Kari the steward of her farm. Right around the time Halla is asking Berg to marry her, Bjorn reveals his discovery: Kari is actually named Eyvind and he is a fugitive from justice. Eyvind was arrested and jailed for stealing a parson's sheep to feed his hungry family, only to break out of prison and flee. Eyvind takes flight again, and Halla elects to leave her comfortable life behind and go with him.

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Shot on location in the Lapland Mountains of Sweden.


Tropes:

  • Anguished Declaration of Love: Right after trying to kiss Halla, Arnes confesses. "A devil haunts me from time to time. I love you."
  • But Now I Must Go: After confessing that he loves Halla and being told that she is not interested, Arnes leaves their camp.
  • Cardboard Prison: Eyvind breaks out of jail by simply pulling the bars of his cell apart.
  • Comforting Comforter: A variation, as Halla's affection for "Kari" is established when she gives him a comforter for use in his cot in the servants' quarters.
  • Dead Sparks: In fairness, it's because they're freaking starving to death. But the bitter, angry couple trapped in a mountain cabin years later is a sad contrast to Eyvind and Halla when they were young lovers.
    Halla: You don't love me. You never loved me.
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  • Downer Ending: Eyvind and Halla's little daughter dies at Halla's hand, and years later, Eyvind and Halla freeze to death.
  • Establishing Character Moment: Bjorn in his first scene whips a poor shepherd boy for losing track of a couple of sheep. He is immediately established as mean and vicious.
  • Gun Struggle: A Knife Struggle between Eyvind and Bjorn ends with the knife going into Bjorn's side and killing him.
  • Infant Immortality: "They shall not get the cub," says Halla, who promptly throws her daughter off a cliff as Bjorn and his posse arrive.
  • Inspired by...: "Based on true events"
  • Letting Her Hair Down: Halla letting her hair down as they sit by the fire is what inspires Arnes to finally make his move.
  • Love Makes You Evil: "Love makes one man good, another evil." Although Arnes never does actually turn evil. He nearly murders Eyvind—then snaps out of it and changes his mind. He nearly rapes Halla—then snaps out of it, changes his mind, and decides to leave their little camp.
  • Snowed-In: A pretty grim ending has Eyvind and Halla in their mountain cabin years later, trapped and starving due to a major blizzard.
  • Time Skip: A five-year skip shows Eyvind and Halla living harmoniously with nature in the mountains. A much darker 11-year time skip later shows them starving.
  • Together in Death: A desperate, starving, grieving Halla wanders out of the cabin and into the blizzard to die. When Eyvind finds her he lies down next to her, and they wind up frozen to death together.
  • You Can't Fight Fate: "None can escape his fate, even if he were to move more swiftly than the wind." The news that Kari is an escaped convict comes soon after.
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