A Man There Was

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A Man There Was
Directed by Victor Sjöström
Produced by Charles Magnusson
Written by
Based on Terje Vigen 
by Henrik Ibsen
Starring Victor Sjöström
Cinematography Julius Jaenzon
Release dates
  • 29 January 1917 (1917-01-29)
Running time
65 minutes
Country Sweden
Language Silent film
Budget 60,000 SEK

A Man There Was (Swedish: Terje Vigen) is a 1917 Swedish drama directed by Victor Sjöström,[1] based on a poem of the same title by Henrik Ibsen. At a cost of 60,000 SEK it was the by then most expensive Swedish film ever made,[2] marking a new direction in Swedish cinema with more funding to fewer films, resulting in more total quality.[3]

This film is considered to be the start of the golden age of Swedish silent film that would end after Gösta Berlings saga in 1925, although films such as Ingeborg Holm from as early as 1913 are often assigned to this era as well.


Terje Vigen lives happily with his wife and little girl on a small island in Norway. In 1809, because of the English blockade, poor people start starving and he decides to row to Denmark to bring food to his family. On the way back, he is captured by a ruthless English captain and sent to jail in England. When he was finally freed in 1814 and can return home, he finds that his wife and daughter have died. He takes up a solitary life in his house overlooking the sea. One night he sees a British yacht in distress in a storm. He rushed to her help and discovers that the skipper is the same man that had took him prisoner and broken his life many years before. He faces a dilemma: will he take revenge on this man, his wife, and daughter or will he save them?[4]



  1. ^ "Progressive Silent Film List: A Man There Was". Silent Era. Retrieved 2009-04-23. 
  2. ^ Summary at Svenskfilmdatabas.se (in Swedish) Swedish Film Institute
  3. ^ Summary of The Outlaw and His Wife at Svenskfilmdatabas.se (in Swedish) Swedish Film Institute
  4. ^ Review, synopsis and link to see the film "A cinema history". Retrieved 18 February 2015. 

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