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Mauritz Stiller Biography

  • Profession: Director, Screenwriter
  • Born: Jul 17, 1883
  • Died: Nov 8, 1928
  • Birth Name: Mosche Stiller

Swedish filmmaker Mauritz Stiller was, next to Victor Sjöström, the greatest director of Swedish cinema's golden age. Stiller, the Helsinki-born son of Russian-Polish Jewish parents, was orphaned at four and then adopted by the Katzmans, a family of haberdashers. As a youth he attended Hebrew school, took violin lessons and apprenticed at their business until he was conscripted into the Czar's army. Rather than serve he escaped to Sweden. He got involved in the Swedish film industry in 1912. Like his colleague Sjöström, Stiller was able to create sophisticated, lyrical films that earned Swedish cinema great international respect. His early films were usually elegant social satires, but after World War I, he began making epic adaptations of popular novels, those of Selma Lagerlöf in particular. On of those adaptations The Atonement of Gosta Berling (1924) introduced Greta Garbo, his protogee. At the invitation of mogul Louis B. Mayer, Stiller and Garbo went to Hollywood where her career exploded while his lagged behind as he found himself constantly battling the confines of the Hollywood studio system. His first American Garbo film, The Temptress (1926), was taken away from him. He found success with his next two films, but in all, he was not impressed with Hollywood and returned to Sweden in the late twenties. There he died of acute rheumatism at age 45. ~ Sandra Brennan, Rovi

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