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November 15, 2005

Raid on the Bergen Express, 1928

bergenexpress.gifAlthough annotated with a running time of 98 minutes, the print for Uwe Jens Krafft's Raid on the Bergen Express that was screened for the program turned out to be a British cut of the film that clocked in at slightly less than one hour. With that reservation noted, it is difficult to assess the effectiveness of the film in its current form. Ostensibly a hybrid of sorts between romantic comedy and action/caper film as two young men - a recently (albeit probationally) promoted newspaper advertising manager named Tom and a humorless, by-the-book officer named Lund - vie for the affections of Gerd, the daughter of the general manager for the national railroad, the film starts auspiciously with a long distance ski jump contest between Tom and Lund, a head-to-head competition that portents their romantic rivalry over Gerd. Unfortunately, the seamless choreography of this sequence is subsequently broken by what appeared to be gaping plot holes, with Tom inexplicably recruiting his friends for a plot to raid the Bergen Express on April 1st. Is his motivation to take revenge on Gerd's father who placed his promotion on contingency? Or perhaps it is to outwit Lund by staging a daring raid under his watch? Although the film does provide a resolution to these questions, the tidy denouement does little to reconcile the ethical quagmire that the actions in the film represent, an absurdity that would likely have been tempered if the missing sequences somehow deployed humor in order to justify the seemingly extreme measures concocted by the hero in order to win a girl's heart.

Posted by acquarello on Nov 15, 2005 | | Filed under 2005, Norwegian Cinema


Your comments on "Raid on the Bergen Express" are absolutely pertinent: It is indeed a truncated version of the original work, which was censored in Germany on 25 June 1928 at 2,298 meters and which was released in Norway on 17 September 1928 at 2,172 meters. The film was based on a 1923 novel with a "big heist"-motif, but the screenplay indeed mixes romantic comedy with elements of Tom Mix westerns (in particular the 1926 "Great K&A Train Robbery"), college comedies and German "Bergfilme". Concipated as a "super quality film" for international distribution, "Raid on the Bergen Express" was produced by the Norwegian company Norsk Super Film A/S and featured the Norwegian-born silent star Aud Egede-Nissen and her Austrian-born husband Paul Richter (of Fritz Lang "Nibelungen" fame). Shooting took place in Norway from 4 March until 29 April 1928, and in the EFA and UFA studios in Berlin in May and June 1928. It was released in Norway, Germany, Austria, the UK and Denmark during 1928-29, but failed to earn back the considerable investment made in it. The only surviving print is the one you've sen, re-discovered ion the UK's National Film Archive in 1963, with a length of 1,550 meters (and thus approx. 30 minutes shorter than the original, if screened at 20 bps).
For further information on the film, see my thesis "På sporet av Bergenstoget: Beretningen om en ikke helt vellykket film" (Norwegian University of Technology and Science, Trondheim, Norway 2007; in Norwegian only).

Posted by: Nils Klevjer Aas on Jun 01, 2007 8:42 AM | Permalink

Thanks for confirming the edits in the film Nils (and apologies for the delayed response, I had a blog admin interface meltdown). I agree with you about the British version playing up the "big heist" aspect of the film, which made the cut version all the more puzzling when it seemed to go somewhere else (and so abruptly).

Posted by: acquarello on Jun 03, 2007 5:55 PM | Permalink

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