Ingeborg Holm

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Ingeborg Holm
Directed by Victor Sjöström
Written by Nils Krok (also play)
Victor Sjöström
Starring Hilda Borgström
Cinematography Henrik Jaenzon
Release date
27 October 1913
Running time
96 min.
Country Sweden
Language Silent film

Ingeborg Holm (English: Margaret Day) is a 1913 Swedish social drama film directed by Victor Sjöström, based on a 1906 play by Nils Krok. It is noted as the first true narrative film, its remarkable narrative continuity would characterize the style now known as classical Hollywood, which dominated the global film industry for the majority of the century.[1] It caused great debate in Sweden about social security, which led to changes in the poorhouse laws. It is said to be based on a true story.[2]


Sven Holm and his wife Ingeborg are happily married with three children, and are about to open a shop in Stockholm. They open the shop, but Sven contracts tuberculosis and dies. Ingeborg initially tries to run the shop by herself, but when she fails and develops a debilitating ulcer, she turns to the poorhouse for help. The poorhouse board does not grant her enough assistance to survive outside the workhouse. She has to sell the shop, her house, and board the three children out to foster families.

After some time, Ingeborg reads in a letter that her daughter, Valborg, is sick. The poorhouse can't finance a visit, but the determined Ingeborg escapes at night and, after being chased by police, gets to see the child. When she returns to the poorhouse, the manager is furious that they must pay a fine for the trouble she caused.

Later on, Ingeborg is offered a chance to see her youngest son, this time with the poorhouse's approval. When the child doesn't recognize her, she is devastated. She tries to make a doll from her scarf and play with it, but the baby cries and turns to the foster mother.

This hits Ingeborg so hard that she loses her sanity. She is relegated to the insane women's ward of the workhouse, cradling a plank of wood as if her own child. After fifteen years, her oldest son, Erik, now a sailor, visits her without any knowledge of his mother's psychosis. He becomes desperate when Ingeborg doesn't recognize him—but when he shows her a youthful photograph of herself, which features the inscription "To Erik from mother," her sanity returns. With the return of her family comes the return of Ingeborg's self.



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