Poet: Gustaf Fröding

Säv, säv, susa / Sigh, Rushes, Sigh by Gustaf Fröding

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A haunting Swedish poem brought to life by the German director Patrick Müller. Here’s the English portion of his Vimeo description:

SIGH, RUSHES, SIGH: In his tale of passionate love and heartbreaking grief, Swedish poet Gustaf Fröding (1860–1911) explains the drowning of the beautiful Ingalill. The words find its counterpart in black and white images, shot with an old 16mm film camera.

Film by Patrick Müller. Germany, 2018, 3 Min, 16mm.
Poem: Gustaf Fröding, Narrator: Klaus-Rüdiger Utschick, Camera: Krasnogorsk 3, Film stock: Fomapan R100, Processing: Andec Filmtechnik, Telecine 4K: Ochoypico, Madrid. Filmed at Rügen, 2018.

There was a lively discussion on the Poetry Film Live Facebook group the other day about whether and when it’s appropriate to use illustration in a poetry film. I think this film strikes the perfect balance between illustration (it wouldn’t have made sense not to begin and end with rushes on a lake shore) and suggestion (the girl’s drowning is only briefly hinted at in the visuals). The film with its black-and-white, 16mm graininess not only conveys but intensifies the melancholy mood of the text. Such illustration as it includes doesn’t tame or trivialize the poem but contributes to an over-all ostranenie.