The Saga of Gosta Berling (1924)





Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

The Saga of Gosta Berling Photos

Movie Info

Known under a variety of titles, The Atonement of Gosta Berling is an excellent representation of the Swedish silent cinema. Long, complex, and elaborately produced, the film nonetheless never loses sight of the human elements which motivate the story. Lars Hanson stars as Berling, a defrocked priest whose rebellious attitude hides a greater sense of idealism than most of his "pious" contemporaries. Among the women in Berling's life is a supposedly married countess, played with instinctive brilliance by a young, awkward, chubby Greta Garbo. Overflowing with betrayals, revenge, and regeneration, Atonement of Gosta Berling has enough plots for ten films. American audiences generally saw a severely truncated version, running approximately half the film's original length. What was left was enough for MGM to invite director Mauritz Stiller and star Greta Garbo to Hollywood, though in typically callous big-studio fashion, Garbo was retained while Stiller was permitted to wither on the vine. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi
Art House & International , Classics , Drama , Romance
Directed By:
Written By:
In Theaters:

Watch it now


Greta Garbo
as Countess Elizabeth Dohna
Lars Hanson
as Gosta Berling
Jenny Hasselquist
as Marianne Sinclaire
Mona Mårtenson
as Countess Ebba Dohna
Karin Swanstrom
as Gustafva Sinclaire
Show More Cast

Critic Reviews for The Saga of Gosta Berling

All Critics (3)

There are cyclones amid the sprawling stolidity

Full Review… | September 25, 2009

Stiller's direction is only adequate most of the time, and there are a lot of mismatched eyelines and shots that feel off-balance and uncertain.

Full Review… | June 2, 2006
Slant Magazine

It is the females who come off as the stronger sex here, but the applause at the end is director Mauritz Stiller's.

Full Review… | September 23, 2005
ReelTalk Movie Reviews

Audience Reviews for The Saga of Gosta Berling

Far too long but with some impressive set pieces. Early Garbo before Stiller and then MGM took her under their wing and molded her. She's about 15 pounds heavier than usual which obscures those signature cheekbones and her hair and make-up are awful but the spark is definitely there.

jay nixon
jay nixon

Super Reviewer


Fully fleshed-out characters undergoing complex emotional struggles, with a sense of genuine human insight. Even the minor characters are nuanced, not a moustache-twirling villain in sight. The leads Lars Hanson and Greta Garbo are both wonderful (I can see why people developed a fascination with Garbo) and every supporting performance is good, too. Sets, costumes and cinematography are beautiful without being overly ostentatious. There are fantastic sequences involving a massive estate fire and being chased by wolves across a frozen lake. The story -- about the misfortunes of a defrocked vicar and those he encounters -- is a rich, Dickensian melodrama with a great deal of depth and no heavy-handed moralizing. Really a treat, the kind of silent movie that even people who don't like silent movies can enjoy.

Martin Teller
Martin Teller

Some interesting scenes (the chase, the fire) but the plot drags in this epic Swedish silent film. Worth seeing mainly to catch a glimpse of Garbo before she hit the big time in Hollywood.

Mara Barker
Mara Barker

The Saga of Gosta Berling Quotes

There are no approved quotes yet for this movie.

Discussion Forum

Discuss The Saga of Gosta Berling on our Movie forum!

News & Features