Auteur List: Ingmar Bergman - Discussion and Defenses

An ongoing survey of the Criterion Forum membership to create lists of the best films of each decade and genre.
Message
Author
User avatar
Rayon Vert
Green is the Rayest Color
Joined: Wed Jan 08, 2014 10:52 pm
Location: Canada
Contact:

Re: Auteur List: Ingmar Bergman - Discussion and Defenses

#26 Post by Rayon Vert » Sun Mar 26, 2017 1:42 am

knives wrote:There's a lot of Bergman in R2, more than here in America at least, but if you mean just on Blu presumably the restoration work necessary just hasn't been done. Though even obscurities like these have come out which is way more than can be said for the US.
The impression I got looking at the info at the top of the thread was that there was more in America, but in any case thanks for the link, I didn't know that set existed!

User avatar
domino harvey
Dot Com Dom
Joined: Wed Jan 11, 2006 2:42 pm

Re: Auteur List: Ingmar Bergman - Discussion and Defenses

#27 Post by domino harvey » Sun Mar 26, 2017 1:47 am

It would be the five RB Artifical Eyes in the first post

Image

User avatar
Rayon Vert
Green is the Rayest Color
Joined: Wed Jan 08, 2014 10:52 pm
Location: Canada
Contact:

Re: Auteur List: Ingmar Bergman - Discussion and Defenses

#28 Post by Rayon Vert » Sun Mar 26, 2017 1:51 am

Ah ha! Now I got it. :)

User avatar
zedz
Joined: Sun Nov 07, 2004 7:24 pm

Re: Auteur List: Ingmar Bergman - Discussion and Defenses

#29 Post by zedz » Sun Mar 26, 2017 4:15 pm

Rayon Vert wrote:
knives wrote:There's a lot of Bergman in R2, more than here in America at least, but if you mean just on Blu presumably the restoration work necessary just hasn't been done. Though even obscurities like these have come out which is way more than can be said for the US.
The impression I got looking at the info at the top of the thread was that there was more in America, but in any case thanks for the link, I didn't know that set existed!
Some time back, Tartan released a 30 DVD set of Bergman's films, including many that hadn't been released to that point, and even though they're long out of print (the company has been defunct for nearly a decade), some of those discs are still available on Amazon.

After The Rehearsal, All These Women, Autumn Sonata, Cries And Whispers, Crisis, Dreams, Farodokument 79, From The Life Of The Marionettes, A Lesson In Love, The Magician, Music In Darkness, Persona, Port Of Call, Prison, The Rite, Saraband, Scenes From A Marriage, The Seventh Seal, The Silence, Smiles Of A Summer Night, Summer Interlude, Summer With Monika, Three Strange Loves, Through A Glass Darkly, Torment, To Joy, The Virgin Spring, Waiting Women, Wild Strawberries, Winter Light.

I believe some of those haven't been released in English-friendly editions otherwise.

User avatar
domino harvey
Dot Com Dom
Joined: Wed Jan 11, 2006 2:42 pm

Re: Auteur List: Ingmar Bergman - Discussion and Defenses

#30 Post by domino harvey » Sun Mar 26, 2017 4:18 pm

Tartan later also released the Devil's Eye and Eva after the box came out with the same branding. Where Tartan is the only English-subbed game in town, they appear in the first post

User avatar
Rayon Vert
Green is the Rayest Color
Joined: Wed Jan 08, 2014 10:52 pm
Location: Canada
Contact:

Re: Auteur List: Ingmar Bergman - Discussion and Defenses

#31 Post by Rayon Vert » Sun Mar 26, 2017 4:47 pm

I'll be doing rewatches only, as the four Bergman-directed films I haven't seen are either basically unavailable (This Can't Happen Here, In the Presence of a Clown) or not enticing enough for me to acquire (Music in Darkness, All These Women). I've already rewatched five during the past few months, and I'm gonna do another 19 or 20.

Dreams. I wish I’d picked up the AE Classic Bergman blu for this, although only this film and the upgrade of Sawdust and Tinsel would make that a worthwhile purchase for me. This is definitely minor Bergman but it’s got its charms. The title should more precisely be called Illusions, as in the merciless stripping away of them. In contrast to many previous romantic dramas of Bergman’s, this one focuses more specifically on the psychological aspect as we follow Eva Dahlbeck and Harriet Andersson, the owner of a model agency and one of her models, on a trip to Göteborg where Dahlbeck plans to see her married lover. Andersson’s own scenes with Gunnar Björnstrand make up the larger middle chunk of this affair and are quite good – and Dahlbeck is terrific as usual. In these mirror narratives, we have a man and a woman involved in an undetermined, ambiguous relationship, until a third person arrives and Bergman misery wins out. There is very crisp photography and masterful mise-en-scène and editing throughout, which makes it rewarding even if it doesn’t belong in the director’s (very) best.

In this film and the one I saw next, I was struck by the handsome exterior shots in Swedish towns and I’m kind of slightly disappointed we got to see comparatively little of this in Bergman’s mature work, concentrated as it was on the Fârö island, tons of more interior chamber pieces or medieval/other settings.

To Joy. Even though only some of the scenes take place there, I’m tempted to lump this one along with Summer Interlude and Summer with Monika among the archipelago films – those scenes and the way early on Bergman photographs and frames faces are extremely winning and memorable – and the handsome and strong presence of Maj-Britt Nilsson links two of those together. The film’s flaws and unevenness stand out more to me than they did initially, but I still think fairly highly of this one. From the beginning to the end of his career, one of Bergman’s defining characteristics and strengths is the ability he has in depicting couples arguing and verbally demolishing each other, and it’s well-rendered here, as opposed to an earlier film like Thirst where the behavior is equally savage but psychologically less convincing. The film is sentimental but still fairly honest and touching (there’s definitely “cheating with music” to maximize sentiment with the immensely powerful Ode to Joy at the end) and the many different backdrops – city, country and ocean – are gorgeous and evocative. One thing that works less is that the Stig character’s immaturity and egotism is overdone, so that it makes it hard to feel systematically engaged in the film. Still the caliber of the film distinguishes it from Bergman’s earlier output.

As an aside, it’s the first time I notice that Erland Josephson, who is so central in later Bergman, makes a short appearance as the man Stig sits alongside to when he goes to Marta’s birthday party. Also of course Ingmar makes a cameo.

The Virgin Spring. Basically everything that domino said! This has always bee among my favorites, but it’s keeping its high placement while other previous top-rankers I’ve downgraded so that at this point it’s almost certain to be my No. 1. Mr. Sausage said The Seventh Seal was his favorite depiction of the Middle Ages – I’d say this is equally strong in recreating such an (imagined) atmosphere. The incredibly beautiful scene of young Karin, in her embroidered dress, on a horse walking along a lake, going to the church to bring candles in honor of the Virgin Mary, echoes the scene of The Seventh Seal where we catch a glimpse of the Virgin.
SpoilerShow
All to make her brutal rape and murder that much more horrifying.
What strikes me most is the sheer purity and beauty of the shots, nature and the forest filmed in a way that makes them feel as if they are inhabited by God's grace and mystery. Also the silence, in a film where sound is often at a minimum, the occasional music a lone flute. Terrific dramaturgy and mise-en-scène, truly exquisite and sublime images, and emotionally devastating.

Fanny and Alexander. I went through the 5h21 version yesterday, in one go (I’ve never watched the theatrical versions of this or Scenes from a Marriage, nor would I really care to). It’s always a hard film for me to rate and my feelings towards it vacillate a lot during various points. In some ways it feels very different, almost a departure from Bergman’s oeuvre up to this point – it’s really back to psychology and a rendering of social context like in the early films, with (relatively) little of the metaphysical concerns that were front and center earlier on (though the trend away from that seemed to have started during the 70s). But more than that, it’s almost like a story out of Dickens, but of course à la Bergman, and a healthy dose of the supernatural thrown in, that I always forget is there. The film is absolutely gorgeous, it really feels like Bergman took his time and that he’s at the height of his craft, but at the same time I do find that whole 1st 1 hour and a half of the Christmas dinner a little indulgent and slow. And when we do get to the narrative deployment of Emilie marrying and moving in with her children to the bishop’s, the simplicity of the “good vs. bad” characters is a somewhat jarring contrast to Bergman’s more usually psychologically complex films. On the hand, all of this is brilliantly realized, staged and acted, and I find the film gains strength as it goes, and even evokes a sense of wondrousness in the end. And Bergman creates here some truly memorable characters, like the wonderful and endearing Uncle Gustav Adolf. So some reservations, but it’ll make my 15 I’m sure.

User avatar
domino harvey
Dot Com Dom
Joined: Wed Jan 11, 2006 2:42 pm

Re: Auteur List: Ingmar Bergman - Discussion and Defenses

#32 Post by domino harvey » Sun Mar 26, 2017 4:55 pm

Music in Darkness is my favorite of his first period melodramas! Don't imagine it will make my list but if you've survived the others from this era, surely one more couldn't hurt!

User avatar
Rayon Vert
Green is the Rayest Color
Joined: Wed Jan 08, 2014 10:52 pm
Location: Canada
Contact:

Re: Auteur List: Ingmar Bergman - Discussion and Defenses

#33 Post by Rayon Vert » Sun Mar 26, 2017 5:07 pm

domino harvey wrote:Music in Darkness is my favorite of his first period melodramas! Don't imagine it will make my list but if you've survived the others from this era, surely one more couldn't hurt!
I've taken your word for it and just ordered it off Amazon!

User avatar
knives
Joined: Sat Sep 06, 2008 6:49 pm

Re: Auteur List: Ingmar Bergman - Discussion and Defenses

#34 Post by knives » Sun Mar 26, 2017 8:54 pm

I guess I should get my first group of views down as well. Very modestly I'm just hoping to be able to get to half way through his oeuvre by the end of this.

In the Presence of a Clown
I'm terribly glad that this wasn't Bergman's final film. At this stage he was talented enough that anything he would do would have some value and lots of entertainment, but this strains the value aspect at least quite a bit. Even putting aside the unsuccessful attempts at juvenile humour there seems a weird fear of directly engaging with the most compelling issues his narrative brings up. I've never seen Bergman a coward before so this is quite surprising. The only logical thing to me is that being so close to his own death, though still a decade off, caused Bergman to interrupt his already morbid way of thinking since now it had a personal edge. This is at its worst in the opening where matters are made explicit and his cinematic tendencies are most pronounced.

The biggest problem once out of the asylum comes with the third act and is a show of the greater need to adapt. I suspect the destruction of the film was a necessity of the play, but it is not for a television adaptation. What little of the movie we get is a wonderful extension of the techniques practiced in The Magic Flute. The act of watching and the primitive act of making has a profound effect that is the highlight of the whole movie. Instead Bergman feeds us the same idea transferred to theater which doesn't work for the simple reason that this isn't theater. Giving Starbursts and then taking that away for Mamba is a good way to have the audience feel stolen from. I guess Bergman just needed more of that insufferable clown and the movie wouldn't make it easy to supply that.

Karin's Face
I would have never guessed that this simple biography of Bergman's parents told through a Chris Marker inspired photo montage would end with a poignancy replicated of Varda's (later!) Vagabond where the woman supposedly at the film's center dissolves despite the interest of the director because of a society that won't stand for a seen woman. That this occurs immediately following a spiritual success as outlined in the newspaper is in a lot of way's Bergman's ultimate Christian irony.

User avatar
TMDaines
Joined: Wed Nov 11, 2009 1:01 pm
Location: Stretford, Manchester

Re: Auteur List: Ingmar Bergman - Discussion and Defenses

#35 Post by TMDaines » Mon Mar 27, 2017 4:31 am

knives wrote:There's a lot of Bergman in R2, more than here in America at least, but if you mean just on Blu presumably the restoration work necessary just hasn't been done. Though even obscurities like these have come out which is way more than can be said for the US.
Maybe in terms of DVD this is true, but in terms of Blu-ray (in the UK at least) we only have the five film AE boxset. Bergman has seemingly always fallen outside Arrow's, the BFI's and MoC's gaze. I'm wondering who has the rights still at this point. Are they stuck with the extinct Tartan?

User avatar
Dr Amicus
Joined: Thu Feb 15, 2007 10:20 am
Location: Guernsey

Re: Auteur List: Ingmar Bergman - Discussion and Defenses

#36 Post by Dr Amicus » Mon Mar 27, 2017 5:11 am

There was the Tartan Seventh Seal ages ago, but yes - I'm surprised about the absence of major films on Blu. I can see a German set on Amazon, and there are the Criterions for region free people (now less attractive post Brexit-vote pound), but that's it.

User avatar
MichaelB
Joined: Fri Aug 11, 2006 6:20 pm
Location: Worthing
Contact:

Auteur List: Ingmar Bergman - Discussion and Defenses

#37 Post by MichaelB » Mon Mar 27, 2017 8:58 am

I think the bulk of Bergman's catalogue did indeed get caught up in Tartan's collapse, although it's surprising that things haven't been resolved thus far. I'm not aware of any of the labels I freelance for having picked up any Bergman titles, which points towards Curzon Artificial Eye as the most likely contender.

But I've long assumed that someone would be bringing the major work out on UK-friendly BD, which is why I've fought shy of any of the Criterions, good though I'm sure they are. (I have the old Tartan megabox, so it's not as though I don't have all the films in perfectly watchable versions.)

User avatar
knives
Joined: Sat Sep 06, 2008 6:49 pm

Re: Auteur List: Ingmar Bergman - Discussion and Defenses

#38 Post by knives » Tue Mar 28, 2017 1:05 pm

From one end of Bergman's career to the other. This is likely the only group of the early films I'm going to get to due to the inconveniences of moving, but they don't give much a reason to go further on anyway. It makes you wonder how much of the negative reaction to Bergman in Sweden in the '50s was a residual dislike of these early melodramas?
Torment
My initial impression with this film was with just how much Bergman must loath male authority which is of course no new idea, but that male is what is emphasized so strongly here. The movie is all about a toxic masculinity which makes me think of the difference throughout Bergman with women of authority. They too can be cruel, but seem to exist in a more benign plane than the men. In comparison with Autumn Sonata which this has a lot in opposition with the other Bergman is just as psychologically cruel as Caligula, the cinephilia here is adorable and almost new wave level, yet is never really a villain. Authority in the feminine is useful if painful while I can't recall the masculine being anything other than harmful. This isn't about the film specifically, which is a good film, but this seems a more interesting component than say the use of genre or the Hitler metaphor.

Crisis
Speak of the devil when it comes to female authority garnering sympathy from Bergman. This movie is chock full of that and is interesting through that lens. Unfortunately it is not very good with the last act in particular being worse than my memories. While Bergman seems a naturally talented screenwriter, my impression is he did a lot of heavy lifting from the play, he really needed to develop his sense as a director which is just awful here. There is one shot of the foster mother that shows the Bergman of the future though it feels lifted wholesale from Dreyer's Master of the House.

Port of Call
This is easily my favorite of the Bergman directed efforts in the set. Criterion's linear notes push the neo-realist aspect of this hard and while it is certainly present the film is firmly still a melodrama in the vein of Crisis. This is a lot better than that film though with a more concise story and a nice visual style. The neo-realist touch is largely divorced from the main story, though there is a wonderful long shot of the lead walking which does the best characterization of her in the whole film, but adds enough flavour that I'm glad it is there all the same. The last act's drama based around a sailor caring about the girl's past is all kinds of phony, but before that the movie works extremely well by the standards of early Bergman.

Thirst
This is far more insane than I remember it being. The script is totally hysterical with the acting pushing it even further into this ball of fury. The thing that really pushes this from plain nutty to a sort of ideal insanity if still mediocre film is that you can really tell that Bergman's sense of blocking is hardening and coming to the fore. Whereas Port of Call only had one or two shots that are clearly Bergman this is chock full of them.

To Joy
This is a pleasant enough way to end the eclipse set. It's not a terribly good film and recalls The Red Shoes in just the right way to make even Bergman's virtues to look a little sour, but it is a cute, little, happy thing which makes it better than average for Bergman at this point plus it has Sjostrom a good seven years before Wild Strawberries playing this film's Anton Walbrook.

User avatar
Rayon Vert
Green is the Rayest Color
Joined: Wed Jan 08, 2014 10:52 pm
Location: Canada
Contact:

Re: Auteur List: Ingmar Bergman - Discussion and Defenses

#39 Post by Rayon Vert » Sun Apr 02, 2017 3:36 pm

Prison. An odd, only partially successful mixture of the sociopsychological melodrama Bergman was doing in the early years and an attempt at an “art film” that points in some way to his later work (heavy stylization, metafilmic elements and dream/hallucinatory sequences, metaphysical obsessions). Not all that engaging, but there’s a dramatically powerful moment when Birgitta breaks down from her being used by a fellow human being in the worst way. The film is notable for the inclusion of the death-and-the-devil short slasstick silent film that shows up again in Persona and Fanny and Alexander; it obviously has strong significance for Bergman and has been the subject of frequent analysis as one of the potential “keys” to his thematic concerns.

A Passion (The Passion of Anna). (The accurate translation is A Passion – and the exploitative American title The Passion of Anna doesn’t even make sense, as this is really about Andreas more than any other single character.) I really like this one, even if it feels a little thrown together without perhaps the same level of accomplishment as the previous films in the Fârö quadrilogy.

Certainly this is Bergman at his most despairing – there’s literally no glimmer of hope here. (In a 1971 article about Bunuel, Truffaut situated Bunuel between Renoir and Bergman of the previous 10 years on the optimism/pessimism scale – i.e. Bunuel finds that people are imbeciles but life is nevertheless amusing – and memorably remarked that Bergman “doesn’t help us live”. That's definitely true of this film.)

The seemingly arbitrary abuse of animals presents the world as uncaring and even cruel in its metaphysical essence (yes there’s someone slaughtering and torturing the animals – but there’s also that scene of a bird hitting the window and Andreas killing it). And Andreas is really like one of those tortured creatures – he’s so completely isolated and psychologically vulnerable. As he reveals to Anna in the end, he’s completely “humiliated” - he literally has no self-esteem or positive sense of self. From the beginning he’s desperate to latch on to anyone, with predictably disastrous results. I noticed for the first time that when at the end he grabs the wheel of the car that Anna’s driving and causes a near accident, one of the quick cuts is to a mirror ornament, a teddy bear twisting and being “strangled” by the string around its neck, that links to the earlier twisting and strangled dog in the film (which, painfully, to me anyway, Andreas eventually gives away to Eva - that dog that gives him all that free affection - in the desperate hope that somehow this will win him some female favor).

But despite being so dire, there’s something about the atmosphere of this film, the desolate and wintry environment in which it’s filmed, as well as how touching Andreas is, that I find really appealing. I don’t know what to make of the actor interviews, they’re part of Bergman’s meta experiments in the latter half of that decade, but they’re few enough to not distract from the film’s power.

Summer Interlude. Definitely Top 3 for me. I’ve always been completely enchanted by the sections invoking that past youthful romance – delightfully written and played and absolutely charmingly photographed. Some truly magical images. It’s enough to make me overlook other aspects of the film that are a little more ordinary, though never weak – although Bergman is continuing to evolve in his psychological and philosophical themes in terms of people building walls to protect themselves and the seeming absence of a caring God. Nilsson manages within the same film, quite amazingly, to portray and look like both a young girl and a woman, with one of those great female faces that Bergman takes full advantage of in shooting.

Torment. Some good scenes, especially those that take place in school, but the stuff with the troubled girl (Bergman really seems to have a thing for them in his early films) and the heavy melodramatic storyline involving the sadist professor and his role in the narrative developments is a bit much.

From the Life of the Marionettes. Domino referred to this one as one of the worst – I’m not being actually perverse when I say I kind of like it to some degree (though my feelings watching it throughout vary and are at best ambivalent), even though it feels like Bergman is back to some ultra-depressing near-nihilism. Yes it’s only partially successful and like other films in the canon, several of them late, such as Face to Face, there’s something ultimately missing in how all the puzzle pieces fit together, despite the qualities of several dimensions of those pieces. The twist here is the murder element, although it only serves to highlight the horror of the psychological trauma.
SpoilerShow
(The psychiatrist’s analysis at the end and the closing shots on the institutionalized killer seem to deliberately echo Psycho).
I think the quality of the photography and the general look of the thing has a lot to do with the (not inordinate) appeal that it has for me, because the writing is a little uneven.

I was struck by a few but seemingly key references to the characters feeling like they’re literally soul-less behavioral machines (though the causes behind this – psychological, sociocultural, metaphysical? - aren’t really explained). I feel this could have been worked out a bit better or made clearer
SpoilerShow
but at one (suicidal) point Peter expresses that he needs absolute control of himself in order to feel safe and yet yearns to break out (or destroy himself) and it’s not quite touching but I did sense some power in that last scene where we see him in his cell, forsaking anything that would take him out of a complete robot-like order/routine, yet at the same time clutching that teddy bear.
Scenes from a Marriage. Like many of the 70s masterworks, I was initially blown away by it and with repeated viewings my appreciation has lessened. I appreciate Bergman’s ambitious quest here, and his craft, and the tremendous feat of acting as well as the significance of the film: Marianne’s struggle towards self-awareness, self-definition and affirmation is located in the historical moment of the women’s liberation movement, while at the same time furthering Bergman’s continued exploration of human beings facing and becoming real to their existential condition, to themselves and to others. On the other hand, on repeated viewings I get a little tired of the obsessive self- and other- verbal analysis – there is almost literally not a single moment of silence in this film, save for a few seconds when we (somewhat rarely) see a character drive a car somewhere or cross the street. That feels especially so in the second half, in all the micro-shifts of Marianne and Johan’s back and forth towards and away from each other. I feel this way not just because it’s 5 hours of such constant analysis, but also because, at the same time, as much as Bergman goes “deep”, some of the notes struck in the way characters change reactions mid-way feel odd or awkward, and those points it starts feeling a little indulgent.

Though it’s filmed with care, as usual, this is Bergman more exclusively focusing on the psychological and human relationships, less so on other filmic dimensions, and this is when I find him a little less interesting as a director.

By the way, I don’t know if this means anything, but in the Through the Glass Darkly thread, I observed that the title comes from 1 Corinthians, which also mentions the words “face to face”, but in the early part of this film, when asked about her definition of love by the reporter at the beginning of the film, Marianne refers to Paul’s definition of love in Corinthians. I checked and that is also in 1 Corinthians, and in the same chapter (13).

User avatar
knives
Joined: Sat Sep 06, 2008 6:49 pm

Re: Auteur List: Ingmar Bergman - Discussion and Defenses

#40 Post by knives » Sun Apr 02, 2017 3:45 pm

Did Bergman ever give an explanation of the interviews in A Passion? I like the film a lot, but outside of introducing some levity I can't pin their purpose.

User avatar
Rayon Vert
Green is the Rayest Color
Joined: Wed Jan 08, 2014 10:52 pm
Location: Canada
Contact:

Re: Auteur List: Ingmar Bergman - Discussion and Defenses

#41 Post by Rayon Vert » Sun Apr 02, 2017 4:47 pm

knives wrote:Did Bergman ever give an explanation of the interviews in A Passion? I like the film a lot, but outside of introducing some levity I can't pin their purpose.
I'm looking up the chapter about it in Bergman's Images. He doesn't say there, he just says in retrospect he thinks they should have been cut.

He does talk about envisioning Farö as the "Kingdom of Death" as early as 1967 and that A Passion grew out of that idea, but had changed, and now he wishes he had kept more strongly to his original vision.

By the way, how essential is The Magic Lantern, which I haven't read, if you've read Images? And is there a good biography of Bergman out there? I do wish I'd read an actual biography, whether his own or by another writer.

User avatar
knives
Joined: Sat Sep 06, 2008 6:49 pm

Re: Auteur List: Ingmar Bergman - Discussion and Defenses

#42 Post by knives » Sun Apr 02, 2017 5:23 pm

That's interesting. I think they work, but introducing them earlier would probably make them more organic to the whole.

User avatar
bottled spider
Joined: Thu Nov 26, 2009 2:59 am

Re: Auteur List: Ingmar Bergman - Discussion and Defenses

#43 Post by bottled spider » Sun Apr 02, 2017 7:51 pm

Cries & Whispers. Apart from having seen The Magic Flute as a kid, and Fanny & Alexander in high school, this was my first Bergman. I was feeling a bit suicidal over having finished the last available R1 Ozu -- what now was there left to live for? -- but Cries & Whispers cheered me instantly. Right from those marvelous opening credits you know you're in good hands. I'm glad I first saw this with innocent eyes, not recognizing a familiar Bergman cast or familiar Bergman tropes. On the other hand, revisiting it means not being taken off guard by the more extreme elements.
SpoilerShow
You know what I'm talking about.
A favourite moment: the close-up heart-to-heart between Maria and Karin, where the dialogue mutes and up comes the Sarabande from the Fifth Cello Suite. I have always considered that piece ruminative and cerebral, where others may hear a lament (it's been suggested that Bach wrote it in a period of mourning); in the specific context of the scene, it strikes an ominous chord. To me the music and unheard dialog convey that the reconciliation is temporary and insubstantial, but the scene's ambiguous, and perhaps others read a warmer tone from it.

I wondered about literary antecedents. Not that I think the film makes any literary allusions, I just wonder if Bergman had certain pieces of literature at the back of his mind when he wrote it. The Death of Ivan Ilyich for one. Karin and Maria reminded me of Goneril and Regan (which would make Agnes the Lear figure, setting a test of love, and Anna the Cordelia figure). There are perhaps even distant echoes of The Three Sisters and The Cherry Orchard.

User avatar
bottled spider
Joined: Thu Nov 26, 2009 2:59 am

Re: Auteur List: Ingmar Bergman - Discussion and Defenses

#44 Post by bottled spider » Mon Apr 03, 2017 1:13 am

Crisis. There are no random dwarves or vaginal insertions of broken glass, so I guess this isn't really art, but I quite liked it anyway. My only criticisms are the old-fashionedly melodramatic score, and the inconcision of the denouement.

User avatar
TMDaines
Joined: Wed Nov 11, 2009 1:01 pm
Location: Stretford, Manchester

Re: Auteur List: Ingmar Bergman - Discussion and Defenses

#45 Post by TMDaines » Mon Apr 03, 2017 5:10 am

Det regnar på vår kärlek: I enjoyed this, although it feels far less the work of Bergman or any auteur and just a fairly generic piece of European cinema from this time period. I don't intend that as a backhanded compliment, because I generally love stumbling across films of this feel and aesthetic from this time period. I probably could have done without the feel of divine intervention at the end, but it is an engaging melodrama nonetheless.

I love how a small cottage, one that is a family home no less, is considered to be unsuitable for a mother to be, but there's nothing wrong with her dragging on her partner's smokes! Also the TARDIS effect of the cottage is insane! It looks lovely and roomy from inside, it still looks decent in the garden, but when being dragged away at the end, it's barely a shed.

User avatar
knives
Joined: Sat Sep 06, 2008 6:49 pm

Re: Auteur List: Ingmar Bergman - Discussion and Defenses

#46 Post by knives » Tue Apr 04, 2017 8:33 pm

The Serpent's Egg
I liked this a decent amount, though the film doesn't seem like Bergman at all. Instead it comes across more like Woody Allen remaking Visconti's The Damned. It's weird, considering how early this is making the following statement an impossibility, that it feels so derivative of Allen (even his humour) rather than something Allen derived from. The blocking, use of colour, tone, themes, and characters just don't seem to exist in the same universe that even the most varied of Bergman's films seem to. This makes it impossible for me to like the film as a Bergman film, but as something in the vein of other Nazi look back films such as Cabaret or Salon Kitty it, for me, stands with the best of those mixing literary influences with the garish sense of a looming death. I especially love Bergman's focus on the financial aspect of the era and how famine raised the egg. Outside of Fassbinder I can't think of anyone else who has explored this aspect of the Weimar years and even he never really concerned himself with the contradiction of the free and luxurious spirit of these years especially as portrayed in movies. There's a comical question looming over each scene of why Germany. This is a starved horse so why not go back to America? At least there everyone speaks your language and there are places of safety to hide from the glare of the eyes that see you as other which Carradine focuses so intently upon.

I do have one question though. is Liv Ullmann's character supposed to be non-Jewish? A few scenes like the one with the priest could radically change meaning depending on the answer and there are a few things in the film that leave that as ambiguous.

The Best Intentions
This theatrical version, I haven't seen the television version, is certainly more Bille August than Ingmar Bergman even as characters and themes showcase the writer of the screenplay quite blatantly. The film plays to the hilt as an epic romance conveyed through traditional melodramatic conversations. On that level, as an August film and not a Bergman one, the movie is quite good. It's very serious of course with an utmost sincerity and earnestness in showing the romance, but also spread with a nice sense of humour which gives variety and life to the characters. In a certain respect given how closed off emotionally and what slaves to tradition the characters are this plays out like a lesser Merchant/Ivory joint which is the best experience I've had yet with August. Also Pernilla August really earned her Palme giving a quiet performance as the rock which all of the characters lean on who nonetheless somehow manages to make for a convincing center of a love story.

Mr. Sleeman is Coming
It really highlights just how amazing Bergman was at this point in his career that he could take something s simple and comic as this and with just a little magic from Bibi Andersson produce something which manages to hit so effectively upon certain emotional truths. With repeated phrases uttered in different tones gaining in emphasis with each mention and the use of time as a villain the film recalls Ibsen in a way I've never much associated with Bergman. It can slip into parody a bit (it feels like we have a close-up of that clock each minute), but the strength of Andersson's performance keeps the whole affair feeling legitimate. von Sydow shows up, but this is really her show and a serious testament to her ability as an actor. Throughout the entire first act with the aunts the movie is essentially comic in nature, but it also asks her to express a total isolation along with some fear all while making the aunts seem benign in the damage they are doing. Andersson somehow manages to accomplish this by underplaying the part with a desperate sense to please. It's about as subtle as acting in a Bergman picture gets (which admittedly is not that subtle; no one would mistake his performers for Bresson's). This works really well as a counterpoint to the second act with von Sydow's silly boyfriend character. Again she is asked to be the lone dramatic force, but this time by nakedly yelling at a wall. It's an explosive way to end the film almost exactly with the percussion that he'd bring in Through a Glass Darkly in miniature. Only in this instance all of the noise is for a character who seems an eternal optimist despite the terror tomorrow brings.

It is also fascinating how just when Bergman finally was gaining international recognition as a master and making some of his best films he decides to enter what would be his retirement home of television for the first time. Already he seems to be making a distinction between the forms with this depending much more on a theatrical use of set that even his chamber pieces for the cinema don't quite have mixed with a very powerful use of close-ups to enclose the audience with. Technically Bergman doesn't show much variation here, but the television simplicity not only fits the story, but heightens the trapped nature of Andersson's psychology. Only once does he really play around with unique mis-en-scene. It's in von Sydow's off screen introduction where Andersson communicates with him as his image is distorted by the glass in a door. In this emotional way the film might have more in common with the '60s and '70s films than the cinema pictures of this time which is an interesting thing for me to ponder.

User avatar
movielocke
Joined: Fri Jan 18, 2008 12:44 am

Re: Auteur List: Ingmar Bergman - Discussion and Defenses

#47 Post by movielocke » Wed Apr 05, 2017 12:52 am

The Virgin Spring This is a first viewing for me, I've picked up the DVD at BN about half a dozen times over the past many years and never quite bought it because I kept thinking, "surely an update of this standalone is right around the corner"

But I am glad I waited to view it via filmstruck, because it looks absolutely incredible in HD (and not windowboxed). The film itself almost blew me away as much as my favorite Bergman films; visually, the fable aspects of the narrative contrast with the seeming realism of the production design and yields an outcome that fairly crackles with energy and freshness viewed today, I was often reminded of Marketa Lazarova, which has a similar quality in the intoxicating aspect of its visuals.
SpoilerShow
Knowing nothing about the film (having not even read a cover blurb) I had no idea when starting the film that a rape would be central or how the film would end (given the title, rather silly of me), although it is strongly foreshadowed from the opening invocation of Odin, so I was suspecting things would go pear shaped for Karin. The actual filmic portrayal of the rape stunned me, the aftermath, the noises she makes, are heartrending, and then I was almost as surprised that she was actually killed. The second half of the film, with it's perfect pacing and buildup and outcome is really quite stunning.
But it isn't quite another Bergman masterpiece for me simply because I have trouble with the central plothole of the film: Karin being allowed to travel without an escort. Of course she has Ingiri, but throughout the film my mind kept circling back to this bizarre decision. It made me wonder if there is an implied statement about the scarcity of highwaymen in the era and area? or is it an implied statement about the power her family holds in the region, that she would expect to be off-limits to everyone who might pose a threat? But I felt like I was missing something fundamental that perhaps the audiences of the day would have picked up on from cultural familiarity.

A great way to start off this project, looking forward to filling in some more of the Bergman gaps I have.
Last edited by movielocke on Wed Apr 05, 2017 12:59 am, edited 1 time in total.

User avatar
domino harvey
Dot Com Dom
Joined: Wed Jan 11, 2006 2:42 pm

Re: Auteur List: Ingmar Bergman - Discussion and Defenses

#48 Post by domino harvey » Wed Apr 05, 2017 12:57 am

Is it a "plot hole" in Little Red Riding Hood too? I'm glad you enjoyed the Virgin Spring, but this film isn't far removed from a fairy tale and operates within one's logic

User avatar
movielocke
Joined: Fri Jan 18, 2008 12:44 am

Re: Auteur List: Ingmar Bergman - Discussion and Defenses

#49 Post by movielocke » Wed Apr 05, 2017 1:03 am

domino harvey wrote:Is it a "plot hole" in Little Red Riding Hood too? I'm glad you enjoyed the Virgin Spring, but this film isn't far removed from a fairy tale and operates within one's logic
hah, I almost went into a long digression about how this works within the context of it being a fable, I am certainly debating this point with myself at the moment. I think I am still simply reconciling my thought process while viewing it with my after the fact contemplations on the film. I imagine that in a second viewing I would not be as bothered by this. While watching it, from the time they are preparing Karin for the journey up until she encounters the goatherds my mind was flashing all over the place, distracting me, I think this is why I am slightly hesitant towards it at the moment.

User avatar
domino harvey
Dot Com Dom
Joined: Wed Jan 11, 2006 2:42 pm

Re: Auteur List: Ingmar Bergman - Discussion and Defenses

#50 Post by domino harvey » Wed Apr 05, 2017 1:10 am

The second time is worse because you know it's coming-- like watching Un Chien andalou again and squirming as soon as the moon appears! I hope you can find a way to reconcile your quibble charitably in the film's favor rather than away from it

Post Reply