A sadly forgotten but very impressive romantic drama tragedy where evil
and darkness prevails over light and love. Until very recently i hadn't
this Swedish-French 1956 co-production. After watching
a couple of really great French crime noirs, as Jules Dassin's 1955
Rififi and Claude Sautet's 1960 Classe
tous risques, i was looking for some more french 1950's-1960's crime
noirs and i found two i really wanted to see, both directed by Robert
Hossein and both
with Marina Vlady (or Marina Catherine de Poliakoff-Baydaroff, born
1938) in them, his 1955 "Les Salauds vont en enfer" and 1958
"Toi ... le Venin".
Supposedly two great crime noir movies .... but, no DVD or BR copy had
any english subtitles on them. However, this was how i heard about Marina
and this film, La Sorcière (Häxan). OK, looking for a disc
to watch it i found few, but was happy to see that Swedish Klubb Super
8 had released it on a DVD
and many thanks to them for releasing a forgotten gem like this.
I only found 2 releases of it, a US cellar public domain company DVD
and then this disc.
This is a Great film if not any masterpiece due to a
too abrupt ending, bad acting from the non-actor villagers and to unsure
direction at times, BUT, the acting
from the main actors are very fine (and Ulf Palme and Naima Wifstrand
were two of our greatest actors), 18-year old Vlady was a sight to behold
and the atmo-
sphere of the almost mystical swedish woods were caught nicely by cinematographer
Marcel Grignon. The story is based on a novel by russian Alexander Kuprin.
This unique film should absolutely be considered a Swedish classic and
released on a prestige Blu-ray release you would think.
The Blonde Goddess of the Forest
Maurice Ronet and Marina Vlady
French engineer Laurent Brulard (Maurice Ronet) travels
to Sweden and the wild forests of Dalarna to build a road, a work commissioned
by a rich land-
owner, widow Kristina Lundgren (Nicole Courcel). He travels by air,
bus, ferry and finally by horse and carriage to reach a small village
deep in the big woods.
Kristina speaks remarkably fluid french but very poor swedish (well,
she's a french actress after all) but later Marina Vlady's Aino/Ina
actually speaks some
fine swedish and with the correct intonation too, impressive as she's
also a french actress.
Brulard is met by the old engineer, Camoin, who's about to leave the
place and he hates the swedes, and they him. Almost none speak french
the priest (Rune Lindström) and Matti (Ulf Palme) the foreman of
The swedish villagers live in very old timber houses, and probably much
too backwards for Sweden in the 1950's, but OK, it adds to the atmosphere
isolation, backwardness and superstition. There's an interesting example
of superstition that's for real though, at the roadwork when the workers
blast away a big stone blocking the direction of the road, because it's
a "Troll stone". Ancient beliefs but i doubt any people in
the 1950's believed in it.
The Nightingale is singing so we know that this film takes place sometime
between May 15 - end of June, and probably in a remote part of Dalarna.
Naima Wifstrand's Maila and Vlady's Aino or Ina
But, even deeper into the forest (than the village)
lives a blond goddess, Aino/Ina with her grandmother Maila (Wifstrand).
The villagers think that
the old woman is a witch and that Aino is the daughter of Satan. Aino
saves animals from traps, can make wounds heal and make other things
happen, and she thinks she's a witch too. She take nude dips in the
lake, meets Brulard and they fall in love.
A nice happy couple, but the locals, including the boss Kristina Lundgren,
don't like it at all. Lundgren is hot for Brulard herself and jealous
and she evicts old Maila from her cabin at the lake as she's the landowner.
Then, the film builds up to a Feel Bad ending, and ends much too abruptly.
Some thoughts: A Great but sadly obscure
film. Pretty well made with fine actors in all main parts. A bit mystical
with wonderful atmosphere, and with
18-year old Marina Vlady as the blonde Goddess of the Forest.
However, about the superstitious villagers i highly doubt that a whole
village of those existed in the 1950's, maybe if 300 years ago. Sweden
is, one of the least religious and superstitious countries in the world.
Regarding young Aino/Ina it's mentioned that she ran to her grandmother
woods when her parents died, but swedish authorities (then) wouldn't
allow a kid to skip school, and she would've been put in a foster home
The film is presented in 4:3 fullscreen, black &
white, with French and Swedish spoken on the audio and with swedish,
english or french subtitles.
Extras Deleted scenes, an image and poster gallery and some unrelated
Klubb Super 8 trailers