My Ingmar Bergman Scorecard

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odinthor

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My Ingmar Bergman Scorecard

PostSat Jan 25, 2014 7:43 pm

My Bergman Scorecard

I made up this "scorecard" of Bergman shows I have seen (not quite all of them) in chronological order of release, Swedish name first (the English name does not necessarily translate the Swedish one), to help friends or non-friends choose which one(s) they wanted to see. The opinions are mine; I recognize they may not be yours. The acting in all Bergman throughout is invariably outstanding, so I won’t mention anything about acting or actors. Any perceived jibes at Swedes or Sweden should be understood as coming from a person (me) who is half Swedish and who loves the fatherland very much. I think it’s a good idea to see the films chronologically, as your understanding grows and shapes alongside Bergman’s, your insights are informed by what Bergman has provided previously. I give a snippet about the nature of the films, but I try not to spoil the stories. Bergman is always better on a second or third viewing because one starts taking note of the all-important ancillary details.

Hets (Torment), 1944: High school student’s academic life, romantic life, and family life come into conflict. Bergman only actually directed the last ten minutes or so, but I believe he wrote the whole thing. No masterpiece, but gripping and worthwhile. Grade: B+

Kris (Crisis), 1946: Gal from country town learns about life in the big city. B

Hamnstad (Port of Call), 1948: Suicidal young woman with reputation and bad family life meets roughneck sailor back from long voyage who’s ready to settle down. Couldn’t get into these characters myself, but would probably appeal to those who could. B-

Musik i Mörker (Music in Darkness, alias Night Is My Future), 1948: A blinded pianist undergoes frustrations. A serious but not heavy “problem” romance. B-

Fängelse (The Devil’s Wanton, alias Prison), 1949: Intriguingly-wrought tale of challenged relationships nested in the context of movie-making. While the relationship of our existence with God and the devil—and whether they indeed exist at all—seem urged on us as the theme, the film is more concerned with human relationships and motivations (perhaps the point is that we do what we do irrespective of God and/or the devil). Unflagging in its interest, Fängelse is a very rich and ambitious work which, if its goal is to lead us to understand the characters, falls just short of its goal. If its goal is to display the unguided randomness of human behavior and experience—which it well could be!—it only fails in not letting us be certain that it has not failed in its mission. A-

Törst (Thirst), 1949: Interwoven stories of interesting people with problems. At times, almost like a screwball comedy; at other times, the customary Bergman psychological drama. One of his best! A+

Till Glädje (To Joy), 1950: Two classical musicians undergo the usual rigors of couplehood, the man in particular evolving. Beautiful. A

Sommarlek (Summer Interlude), 1951: Ballet dancer and shy guy have a romantic summer interlude and learn about life. Well, at least, she does. B+

Kvinnors Väntan (Secrets of Women), 1952: The ladies are waiting for the guys to show up, and relate to each other the turning point in their relationships with their guys, some sad, some reflective, some humorous. B+

Sommaren med Monika (Summer with Monika), 1953: Young dude learns a lot about life from Monika; Monika, not so much. Like a combination of Hamnstad, Till Glädje, and Sommarlek. B

Gycklaman Afton (Sawdust and Tinsel), 1953: Bergman hits his stride in being in your face with this tale of the members of a traveling circus and their intense emotions. Another I couldn’t get into the characters with, but others probably could. B

En Lektion i Karlek (A Lesson in Love), 1954: Delightful romantic fare, witty and wise. Keep your eye on the bartender.… A+

Kvinnodröm (Dreams), 1955: Romantic dreams, romantic realities, youth, aging . . . Perfect! A+

Sommarnattends Leende (Smiles of a Summer Night), 1955: Much-loved romantic comedy (I like En Lektion i Karlek better; but this has higher production values). A-

Det Sjunde Inseglet (The Seventh Seal), 1957: A “standard that everyone should know; but, to me, it’s a bit too stagey and self-conscious; also, there's a script error at the end. I classify a number of Bergman’s films as experimental, and this is one of them. Grade A, mostly on reputation.

Smultronstället (Wild Strawberries), 1957: Perfect. A man comes to terms with life, love, and death. The more attention you pay to it, the more you get out of it. A+

Ansiktet (The Magician, alias The Face), 1958: Traveling conjurors make life interesting for themselves and others. Beautifully filmed. B+

Nära Livet (Brink of Life), 1958: Three hospitalized women face childbirth and life itself. Wonderful, almost indescribably so. Much more cogent and effective than some of Bergman’s later masterpieces. A+

Jungfrukällan (The Virgin Spring), 1960: Sex and violence in mediæval times. Beautiful cinematography. Another experiment, to some degree, engaging from the film-making standpoint, not so much from empathizing with the (stock-) characters. B+

Djävulens Öga (The Devil’s Eye), 1960: The Devil and Don Juan meddle in the affairs of a Swedish pastor’s household. Entertaining and light. B+

Såsom i en Spegel (Through a Glass Darkly), 1961: Illness, resentment, insanity, guilt, and bad weather too. One of those difficult to sit through ones which nevertheless give you valuable insights. B

Nattvardgästerna (Winter Light), 1962: Serious reflections on the relationship of man and God; if you have a sufficiently Swedish or at least Bergmanian sense of humor, I think you’ll also detect some very black humor. A masterpiece. A+

Tystnaden (The Silence), 1963: Dream-like piece of wonderful film-making which goes clean over my head (I’ll have to watch it again a few times to see if I can put it all together). Probably a B+ in the final analysis.

Persona, 1966: Sorry, so far I get nothing out of this, even after repeated viewings. Still, the cinematography is beautiful. For me, C+

Vargtimmen (Hour of the Wolf), 1968: Is mental illness catching? Is this a sort of vampirism? Weird and intriguing. A

Skammen (Shame), 1968: What war does to us. Well, at least, what war does to Swedes. B+

Riten (The Rite), 1969: Performers vs. bureaucracy. Not without some merit, but another self-conscious and stagey experiment. It feels like experimental TV drama of the 1950s. B-

En Passion (The Passion of Anna), 1969: Oh, these women! You can’t live with them, and you can’t live without them! Messed-up people play with each other while animals get killed. The final minutes are justly famous. B+

The Touch (Beröringen), 1971: English-language. Beautiful Bibi Andersson gets involved with hairy archæologist Elliott Gould, her husband Max Von Sydow taking it all as only a Swedish husband would. The first viewing, it didn’t impress me; the second viewing, it seemed much richer and quite good. B+

Viskningar och Rop (Cries and Whispers), 1972: A masterpiece which is very challenging to experience because it goes where nobody wants to go. Brace yourself, sit through it, become wiser. Set up your radar to catch more obscure and very black humor. A

Scener ur ett Äktenskap (Scenes from a Marriage), 1973: Sometimes marriage is the biggest obstacle to successful couplehood. B+

Trollflöjten (The Magic Flute), 1975: Outstanding; and, having seen other Bergman, one sees how this fits in perfectly with his overall concerns. Bergman himself appears for approximately one second. A+

Ansikte mot Ansikte (Face to Face), 1976: A woman is repressed because of past experiences. Anguish-athon which I find challenging. C-

The Serpent’s Egg, 1977: English-language. Decadent inter-war Germany at its best. Liv Ullman singing and dancing, with green hair, people dying mysteriously, opulent sets. Mostly un-Bergmanlike flick in seeming unfocused until the end. Beautiful to look at, though, with dedicated performances by all concerned. B-

Höstsonaten (Autumn Sonata), 1978: Top-notch examination of interpersonal family dynamics with drama-queen mother and repressed daughter. A+

Aus dem Leben der Marionetten (From the Life of the Marionettes), 1980: Rich movie about a murder and the murderer’s circle. I think I’ll have to watch it yet again to really get it. Mine is the mediocrely dubbed version (a subtitled version would be better). B+

Fanny och Alexander (Fanny and Alexander), 1982: Declared a masterpiece, and wonderful in many ways; but there are other Bergman shows which probe the same things deeper and tell us more. Bergman’s personal celebration of his own doings, and to be respected for that. A-

Efter Repetitionen (After the Rehearsal), 1984: A theater director, staying late, has probing conversations with an up-and-coming actress, a down-and-out actress, and himself about life, love, aging, and the theater. Though it sounds like a snoozefest, it’s captivating and brings our Bergman experience to a fitting end. A-
_____
"She confessed subsequently to Cottard that she found me remarkably enthusiastic; he replied that I was too emotional, that I needed sedatives, and that I ought to take up knitting." —Marcel Proust (Cities of the Plain).
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Bob Furem

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Re: My Ingmar Bergman Scorecard

PostSat Jan 25, 2014 10:57 pm

I think this is a great idea and I encourage your effort to bring a little more foreign film content to this esteemed website. I understand that not all classic Hollywood and silent film fans (I am both) are also foreign film fans, but given the general intelligence of the membership, perhaps there should be a separate area for discussing foreign films. I believe Mr. Gebert is quite a fan of foreign films and so are many others. I'd rather argue about the merits of various Dreyer films, for example, than whether he is a pretentious twit or not. The same as I would not wish to use this site to debate the general merit of the silent film.

Your rundown on Bergman is an interesting read and quite provocative. You are correct about Seventh Seal being slightly over-rated, but I believe you under-rate The Silence and Persona. However, there is nothing in your writing that I think is anything other than well-thought out and worthy.

What do others think? Would it not be nice to have somewhere we could debate the merits of various films by, say, Ozu or Varda? Or am I veering too far of the stated parameters of Nitrateville, which is quite wonderful as it is.
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Re: My Ingmar Bergman Scorecard

PostSun Jan 26, 2014 9:54 am

Thanks for doing this - great list. I've only seen 5 or 6 of these so far, and would like to discover many of the others.

I agree that more discussion of foreign films is welcome, but I think it's best served by keeping it within present categories. If it's off in its own little world, those who tend to ignore it will have an easy excuse to continue doing so, simply by bypassing the category. If it's mixed among other topics, readers are more likely to stumble across things that they may not see otherwise.

Anyone is welcome to start threads for ongoing topics, say films of a given country, director, etc.
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Michael O'Regan

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Re: My Ingmar Bergman Scorecard

PostSun Jan 26, 2014 3:05 pm

Well you've seen a bit more Bergman than I have. I do love that list you did there and I'll refer to it again, I'm sure.

The "Faith Trilogy" - Through a Glass Darkly, Winter Light, The Silence are three of the most beautiful films I've ever seen. Like you, when I first viewed The Silence I missed the whole thing - however, as I said elsewhere, it had an inherent beauty that made me want to see it again. I know that Bergman didn't originally set out to film a trilogy, viewing these films as such only retrospectively. However, it takes on more meaning when considered as part of this trilogy. Would you agree?

The Seventh Seal - I respectfully disagree with you. From first viewing, this film smacked me right in the chest. It's typical Bergman stripped down filmmaking. The issue - God's Silence, and man's attempts to penetrate it - is never veered from. I agree that it's been hyped to death over the years, with all sorts of alternate and hidden meanings attached to it.
It is, to my view, one of the simplest of his films to understand. Also, I'm Irish and that whole bleak Scandinavian outlook there, is pretty close to home with me. We love that stuff. God, Death, Penance...yeah,man!! :)

In fact, I recently bought the Tartan BluRay of ....Seal, and what better time to watch it than right now.
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Re: My Ingmar Bergman Scorecard

PostSun Jan 26, 2014 4:26 pm

Michael O'Regan wrote:Well you've seen a bit more Bergman than I have. I do love that list you did there and I'll refer to it again, I'm sure.

The "Faith Trilogy" - Through a Glass Darkly, Winter Light, The Silence are three of the most beautiful films I've ever seen. Like you, when I first viewed The Silence I missed the whole thing - however, as I said elsewhere, it had an inherent beauty that made me want to see it again. I know that Bergman didn't originally set out to film a trilogy, viewing these films as such only retrospectively. However, it takes on more meaning when considered as part of this trilogy. Would you agree?

The Seventh Seal - I respectfully disagree with you. From first viewing, this film smacked me right in the chest. It's typical Bergman stripped down filmmaking. The issue - God's Silence, and man's attempts to penetrate it - is never veered from. I agree that it's been hyped to death over the years, with all sorts of alternate and hidden meanings attached to it.
It is, to my view, one of the simplest of his films to understand. Also, I'm Irish and that whole bleak Scandinavian outlook there, is pretty close to home with me. We love that stuff. God, Death, Penance...yeah,man!! :)

In fact, I recently bought the Tartan BluRay of ....Seal, and what better time to watch it than right now.


Yes, with your first point about considering The Silence as having enhanced meaning as part of the trilogy, I'd most definitely agree. I also take things even farther, and find that the effect and meaning of any single Bergman is enhanced by considering all of Bergman. In my view, Art is about communication (be it on a conscious, intellectual level, be it on a subconscious instinctual level); the more we understand and refine our abilities to understand an artist's "language," the better we understand what the artist produces. The trilogy films were made by Bergman when he was himself moving through a period of deep spiritual questioning; they reflect on and, in a sense, "explain," each other more intimately than they do with films of Bergman's made at times more remote and in moods more remote.

With The Seventh Seal, I appreciate it very much; but, for me, I "feel" the issues more deeply elsewhere in Bergman than I do in this one. It might be because I distract myself with analyzing it as I watch to see how Bergman begins to carry out but then I think somewhat strays from a "high concept" of the characters themselves being the chess pieces on the board of Life. My being distracted in a similar way may also be why I can't seem to engage with Persona, try as I might. As actors need to "inhabit" a part to make their effort successful, I need to "inhabit" a movie to be a successful member of the audience. If I'm actively thinking about writerly things or structural things or anything outside the characters' experience as characters, well, it tends to start giving me a feeling of alienation from a show. Yes, I realize that's somewhat paradoxical--thinking about the show alienates me from the show--but an audience member is really a combination of two audience members: the individual (who experiences it in a personal way) and the reviewer (who experiences it as a representative of Society). For me, if the reviewer side becomes too interested (for reasons "good" or "bad"), it to a greater or lesser degree shuts down the movie's ability to communicate with the individual, and so I come away from the movie perhaps feeling intrigued or impressed by its writing or camera work or structure or concept but also feeling unfulfilled as an individual. I'm pretty sure that this is what's going on with me and Persona, and, I suspect, to a much lesser degree, The Silence and From the Life of the Marionettes--I'm too busy being taken in by technique to really feel personally and thoroughly what's going on. Something like Wild Strawberries or Thirst speaks clearly to me as a person--they're in front of me, looking me in the eye, addressing me with facial expressions and gestures; with something like Persona, the communication is more remote, like through a phone in which the sound fades in and out.

But, I ramble . . .
_____
"She confessed subsequently to Cottard that she found me remarkably enthusiastic; he replied that I was too emotional, that I needed sedatives, and that I ought to take up knitting." —Marcel Proust (Cities of the Plain).
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Michael O'Regan

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Re: My Ingmar Bergman Scorecard

PostSun Jan 26, 2014 5:10 pm

Having just finished watching The Seventh Seal again, I feel that, as I said before, many miss the simplicity of it.

It's even more beautiful than I remembered. Perhaps, I'm just easily moved.

____________________________________________________________

Regarding film in general, I too used to get bogged down in trying to analyse what I was watching, as I was watching it. I usually came out the worse for the experience. This would tend to happen more with a filmmaker like Bergman, when I would go in with the idea that I should pay pretty close attention because, after all, this is deep stuff we're dealing with here.

Then, I read something Martin Scorsese said, along the lines of - don't try to analyse a film as you're watching it. Rather, let it wash over you and then afterwards decide whether or not you liked it. If you did, why? If you did not. why not?
I've found that this has been a huge help to me.

Even the other night as my wife and myself settled down to watch The Magician, she said "Oh, Bergman. Right. I'll have to try and think a little more than usual about this."
I think a lot of people do this and miss the point.
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Re: My Ingmar Bergman Scorecard

PostSat Feb 01, 2014 11:51 pm

It is a special day when I manage to see a Bergman film I haven't seen before. Earlier today, I saw, for the first time, the universally-panned comedy All These Women (1964). His film previous to this was The Silence; his next (not-for-TV) movie was Persona. The day will come when someone says that this is a fine film, outstanding, a credit to Bergman. That day has not come. It's a stunningly poor film, so bad that Surf Nazis Must Die! will seem like Corneille in comparison, so bad that public-minded citizens should be petitioning Congress for a constitutional amendment that theater doors be kept open during performances of this movie for easy egress of disgusted audience members.

However . . .

This is Bergman, and all is never as it seems. As I watched in bemused wonder at the awfulness of it all, I realized that no one could do this badly unintentionally. The baffling or non-existent plot, the unenlightening dialog, the low production values, the cheesy but hyper-elegant title cards, the over-acting . . . Ladies and gents, I put it to you that this film is a rib, but a rib with purpose. While many commentators seem to think that this has to do with Bergman somehow getting in a whack at film critics, it's not quite that; the critics only get thematically whacked as part of a larger group, poseurs. Our set of themes is comprised of pretense and identity. Bergmaniacs will start at this statement, as that is also what his very next film, Persona, is about; and I suddenly realized after watching All These Women that finally I understood Persona--the fact is that while Bergman addresses the matter in diametrically opposite ways, these two shows concern precisely the same theme.

As stated, the film is a rib. Now, ribs are a difficult genre. The audience has to be "on board," so to speak; otherwise, the production fails. Bergman, in this case, appears to have been unsuccessful in putting the audience in the right frame of mind; a person has to have the epiphany noted above ("I realized that no one could do this badly unintentionally") to be tipped off and begin to see what's what here. One of the qualities in Bergman I like is that he trusts the audience to put things together; as with silent film, you have to keep on your toes to get a full understanding of what's going on. In this case, though, Bergman didn't reflect on the fact that audience members see lousy shows with cheap sets and poor acting all the time; to see these is only to enter the familiar world of mediocre entertainment--it's not striking enough to tip off the regular audience member to the underlying sophistication of Bergman's concept. In short, Bergman fails here, and one has to work hard to salvage anything. But the effort is worth it to the most dedicated Bergmanites: As I mentioned, because of this movie, I now understand Persona; and I'd go so far as to state that no one can fully understand Persona until fully understanding All These Woman. I doubt anyone has ever made this chilling statement before; and I have the definite feeling that no one will ever make it again; but that's how I feel about the matter.

On a less lofty level: The tone of the movie is that which one finds in portions of Bergman's The Devil's Eye; he seems to be channeling, or trying to channel, the likes of Moliere. Our lead man is Jarl Kulle, familiar from not only the just-mentioned show but also Smiles of a Summer Night etc. We see a lot of him here, both temporally and physically speaking; and really he does pretty well. Bergman seems to me to have gotten some ideas here from The Pink Panther (!), and strongly appears to me to have told Kulle to attempt to some degree a Peter Sellers job on his role. Several other familiar names from the world of Bergman appear (Eva Dahlbeck, Harriet Andersson, Bibi Andersson); but this isn't the sort of movie in which their abilities are able to shine.

How to grade a show such as this? Hmmm. As a movie in its own right, independent of other movies or of enriching our understanding of Bergman, probably a D- (I did laugh once or twice).
_____
"She confessed subsequently to Cottard that she found me remarkably enthusiastic; he replied that I was too emotional, that I needed sedatives, and that I ought to take up knitting." —Marcel Proust (Cities of the Plain).
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Re: My Ingmar Bergman Scorecard

PostSun Feb 02, 2014 2:32 am

odinthor wrote:It is a special day when I manage to see a Bergman film I haven't seen before. Earlier today, I saw, for the first time, the universally-panned comedy All These Women (1964). His film previous to this was The Silence; his next (not-for-TV) movie was Persona. The day will come when someone says that this is a fine film, outstanding, a credit to Bergman. That day has not come. It's a stunningly poor film, so bad that Surf Nazis Must Die! will seem like Corneille in comparison, so bad that public-minded citizens should be petitioning Congress for a constitutional amendment that theater doors be kept open during performances of this movie for easy egress of disgusted audience members.

However . . .

This is Bergman, and all is never as it seems. As I watched in bemused wonder at the awfulness of it all, I realized that no one could do this badly unintentionally. The baffling or non-existent plot, the unenlightening dialog, the low production values, the cheesy but hyper-elegant title cards, the over-acting . . . Ladies and gents, I put it to you that this film is a rib, but a rib with purpose. While many commentators seem to think that this has to do with Bergman somehow getting in a whack at film critics, it's not quite that; the critics only get thematically whacked as part of a larger group, poseurs. Our set of themes is comprised of pretense and identity. Bergmaniacs will start at this statement, as that is also what his very next film, Persona, is about; and I suddenly realized after watching All These Women that finally I understood Persona--the fact is that while Bergman addresses the matter in diametrically opposite ways, these two shows concern precisely the same theme.

As stated, the film is a rib. Now, ribs are a difficult genre. The audience has to be "on board," so to speak; otherwise, the production fails. Bergman, in this case, appears to have been unsuccessful in putting the audience in the right frame of mind; a person has to have the epiphany noted above ("I realized that no one could do this badly unintentionally") to be tipped off and begin to see what's what here. One of the qualities in Bergman I like is that he trusts the audience to put things together; as with silent film, you have to keep on your toes to get a full understanding of what's going on. In this case, though, Bergman didn't reflect on the fact that audience members see lousy shows with cheap sets and poor acting all the time; to see these is only to enter the familiar world of mediocre entertainment--it's not striking enough to tip off the regular audience member to the underlying sophistication of Bergman's concept. In short, Bergman fails here, and one has to work hard to salvage anything. But the effort is worth it to the most dedicated Bergmanites: As I mentioned, because of this movie, I now understand Persona; and I'd go so far as to state that no one can fully understand Persona until fully understanding All These Woman. I doubt anyone has ever made this chilling statement before; and I have the definite feeling that no one will ever make it again; but that's how I feel about the matter.

On a less lofty level: The tone of the movie is that which one finds in portions of Bergman's The Devil's Eye; he seems to be channeling, or trying to channel, the likes of Moliere. Our lead man is Jarl Kulle, familiar from not only the just-mentioned show but also Smiles of a Summer Night etc. We see a lot of him here, both temporally and physically speaking; and really he does pretty well. Bergman seems to me to have gotten some ideas here from The Pink Panther (!), and strongly appears to me to have told Kulle to attempt to some degree a Peter Sellers job on his role. Several other familiar names from the world of Bergman appear (Eva Dahlbeck, Harriet Andersson, Bibi Andersson); but this isn't the sort of movie in which their abilities are able to shine.

How to grade a show such as this? Hmmm. As a movie in its own right, independent of other movies or of enriching our understanding of Bergman, probably a D- (I did laugh once or twice).


Well, you certainly made ME want to see ALL THESE WOMEN! It's one of the few Bergman films I haven't seen. I like PERSONA quite a bit (have a 16mm print, a DVD, and soon a Blu-ray when it's released later this year). And do I get the impression you didn't seem to think much of SURF NAZIS MUST DIE? How could that be! (Though I haven't seen it since it played theatrically, so I should probably take another look.)
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Re: My Ingmar Bergman Scorecard

PostSun Feb 02, 2014 11:10 am

I had meant to mention that a clearly intended tip-off as to the theme of All These Women occurs early on with the multiply reiterated "So like him . . . and yet so unlike him . . . "

For Surf Nazis Must Die!, I'm waiting for the Criterion edition before re-experiencing it.
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Re: My Ingmar Bergman Scorecard

PostSat Feb 15, 2014 11:10 pm

For some reason I cannot recall, I had previously avoided Bergman's final farewell, Saraband--from only 11 years ago, 2003--though it's readily available. I've now taken care of this omission.

On the surface, this is a sequel to Bergman's Scenes from a Marriage. Again, Liv Ullman and Erland Josephson star as Marianne and Johan, but now it's years later after they have been apart for a lengthy period. Marianne feels intuitively that Johan has called to her, and she seeks him out at his out-of-the-way residence, where she becomes involved in his situation (I'm purposely being vague). As one watches, it begins to seem as if the focus is elsewhere--in line with the other entries on my "Bergman Score Card," I'm not going to reveal much of anything--but no, trust me, this is still about deciphering the relationship of Marianne and Johan, whomever the audience might be looking at.

In many ways, particularly thematically, this is a summation of Bergman's overall body of work. It's hard to tell if certain elements are explicit references to specific movies being woven together into a Bergmanian fugue, or simply the natural re-appearance of the set of concepts with which Bergman concerned himself; but in the final analysis, it doesn't matter, because this is a masterful work which, while enriched for the audience member by previous encounters with Bergman, stands on its own.

Directing, acting, and camera-work are superb. Bergman's script shows him at his full powers, with the experience and perspective of age giving not only further depth but greater focus. In a subtle, not splashy, way, an A+.
_____
"She confessed subsequently to Cottard that she found me remarkably enthusiastic; he replied that I was too emotional, that I needed sedatives, and that I ought to take up knitting." —Marcel Proust (Cities of the Plain).
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Re: My Ingmar Bergman Scorecard

PostSat Oct 22, 2016 9:52 pm

I must complete my survey of all of Ingmar Bergman’s theatrical directorial releases (there are also a few others that he wrote but did not direct, and there are several made-for-TV shows which are unavailable), having recently acquired the final three. These notes are, as stated in my original preface below, only snippets to assist the would-be viewer in choosing Bergman titles to experience; appropriately lengthy reviews will appear, though probably elsewhere. I present the entire list below, for the convenience of cinephiles, updated in those cases in which my opinion has changed, and with the three new ones in their correct chronological position. These three “new” ones are: Det Regnar på vär Kärlek (It Rains on our Love, 1946), Skepp till Indialand (A Ship to India, 1947), and Sånt Händer inte Här (This Can’t Happen Here, 1950).

___

BERGMAN SCORECARD

Bergman-directed shows, listed in chronological order of release; Swedish name first. The English name does not necessarily translate the Swedish one. All are worth seeing, some though perhaps only once. The acting in all Bergman throughout is invariably outstanding, so I won’t mention much if anything about acting or actors. It’s a good idea to see them chronologically, as your understanding grows and shapes alongside Bergman’s, your insights are informed by what Bergman has provided previously. I give a snippet about the nature of the films, but I keep it short so as not to spoil the stories for you. Bergman is always better on a second or third viewing because one starts taking note of the all-important ancillary details.

Hets (Torment), 1944: High school student’s academic life, romantic life, and family life come into conflict. Bergman only actually directed the last ten minutes or so, but I believe he wrote the whole thing. No masterpiece, but gripping and worthwhile. Grade: B+

Kris (Crisis), 1946: Gal from country town learns about life in the big city. B

Det Regnar på vär Kärlek (It Rains on our Love), 1946: A young man with an unfortunate past has a meet cute with a young woman with an unfortunate past, and they try to make a fortunate future despite eccentrics, the law, and unsympathetic bureaucracy. B

Skepp till Indialand (A Ship to India), 1947: A mildly humpbacked abused son falls in love with a variety-house songstress of easy virtue…who is also his abusive father’s intended mistress. B+

Hamnstad (Port of Call), 1948: Suicidal young woman with bad reputation and worse family life meets rough at the edges sailor back from a long voyage who’s conflicted about life and self. Very touching, rich and well-conceived characters, and deals with issues which are at the very core of Bergman throughout his career. B+

Musik i Mörker (Music in Darkness, alias Night Is My Future), 1948: A blinded pianist undergoes frustrations. A serious but not heavy “problem” romance. B

Fängelse (The Devil’s Wanton, alias Prison), 1949: Intriguingly-wrought tale of challenged relationships nested in the context of movie-making. While the relationship of our existence with God and the devil—and whether they indeed exist at all—seem urged on us as the theme, the film is more concerned with human relationships and motivations (perhaps the point is that we do what we do irrespective of God and/or the devil). Unflagging in its interest, Fängelse is a very rich and ambitious work which, if its goal is to lead us to understand the characters, falls just short of its goal. If its goal is to display the unguided randomness of human behavior and experience—which it well could be!—it only fails in not letting us be certain that it has not failed in its mission. A-

Törst (Thirst), 1949: Interwoven stories of interesting people with problems. At times, almost like a screwball comedy; at other times, the customary Bergman psychological drama. One of his best! A+

Till Glädje (To Joy), 1950: Two classical musicians undergo the usual rigors of couplehood, the man in particular evolving. Beautiful. A

Sånt Händer inte Här (This Can’t Happen Here), 1950: Early Hitchcock meets Noir meets Bergman in this most mainstream of Bergman’s movies—which Bergman himself didn’t like, but it’s a most entertaining movie! Darkly suspenseful in the first half, with suspenseful action (yes! Action in Bergman! OMG!) in the last half, a little humor, a few characteristic Bergmanian “theatrical” moments, some jabs at the Swedish ethos, splendid cinematography from Gunnar Fischer. Good luck finding it to view! A-

Sommarlek (Summer Interlude), 1951: Ballet dancer and shy guy have a romantic summer interlude and learn about life. Well, at least, she does. B+

Kvinnors Väntan (Secrets of Women), 1952: The ladies are waiting for the guys to show up, and relate to each other the turning point in their relationships with their guys, some sad, some reflective, some humorous. A-

Sommaren med Monika (Summer with Monika), 1953: Young dude learns a lot about life from Monika; Monika, not so much. Like a combination of Hamnstad, Till Glädje, and Sommarlek. B

Gycklaman Afton (Sawdust and Tinsel), 1953: Bergman hits his stride in being in your face with this tale of the members of a traveling circus and their intense emotions. Another I couldn’t get into the characters with, but others probably could. B

En Lektion i Karlek (A Lesson in Love), 1954: Delightful romantic fare, witty and wise. Keep your eye on the bartender.… A+

Kvinnodröm (Dreams), 1955: Romantic dreams, romantic realities, youth, aging . . . Perfect! A+

Sommarnattends Leende (Smiles of a Summer Night), 1955: Much-loved romantic comedy (I like En Lektion i Karlek better; but this has higher production values). A-

Det Sjunde Inseglet (The Seventh Seal), 1957: A “standard that everyone should know; but, to me, it’s a bit too stagey and self-conscious. I classify a number of Bergman’s films as experimental, and this is one of them. B

Smultronstället (Wild Strawberries), 1957: Perfect. A man comes to terms with life, love, and death. The more attention you pay to it, the more you get out of it. A++

Ansiktet (The Magician, alias The Face), 1958: Traveling conjurors make life interesting for themselves and others. The themes are not pointed up as clearly as usual with Bergman. Beautifully filmed. B+

Nära Livet (Brink of Life), 1958: Three hospitalized women face childbirth and life itself. Wonderful, almost indescribably so. Much more cogent and effective than some of Bergman’s later “masterpieces.” A+

Jungfrukällan (The Virgin Spring), 1960: Sex and violence in mediæval times. Beautiful cinematography. Another experiment, to some degree, engaging from the film-making standpoint, not so much from empathizing with the (stock-) characters. B+

Djävulens Öga (The Devil’s Eye), 1960: The Devil and Don Juan meddle in the affairs of a Swedish pastor’s household. Entertaining and light. B+

Såsom i en Spegel (Through a Glass Darkly), 1961: Illness, resentment, insanity, guilt, and bad weather too. One of those difficult to sit through ones which nevertheless give you valuable insights. B

Nattvardgästerna (Winter Light), 1962: Serious reflections on the relationship of man and God; if you have a sufficiently Swedish or at least Bergmanian sense of humor, I think you’ll also detect some very black humor. A masterpiece. A++

Tystnaden (The Silence), 1963: Dream-like piece of wonderful film-making about two sisters, one of them apparently dying, and their relationship with each other and the dying one’s son. B+

Förr ätt inte Tala om Alla desse Kvinnor (All These Women), 1964: Clumsy movie with low production values and poorly-executed humor; but this show provides the key to understanding Persona… D+

Persona, 1966: I didn’t see what Ingmar was up to with this one until I saw All These Women (above). Figure it out for yourself—I’m not telling… All I’ll say is “Pull my finger.” The cinematography is beautiful. For me, C+

Vargtimmen (Hour of the Wolf), 1968: Is mental illness catching? Is this a sort of vampirism? Weird and intriguing. B+

Skammen (Shame), 1968: What war does to us. Well, at least, what war does to Swedes. B+

Riten (The Rite), 1969: Performers vs. bureaucracy. Not without some merit, but another self-conscious and stagey experiment. It feels like experimental TV drama of the 1950s. B-

En Passion (The Passion of Anna), 1969: Oh, these women! You can’t live with them, and you can’t live without them! Messed-up people play with each other while animals get killed. The final minutes are justly famous. B+

The Touch (Beröringen), 1971: English-language. Beautiful Bibi Andersson gets involved with hairy archæologist Elliott Gould, her husband Max Von Sydow taking it all as only a Swedish husband would. The first viewing, it didn’t impress me; the second viewing, it seemed much richer and quite good. B+

Viskningar och Rop (Cries and Whispers), 1972: A masterpiece which is very challenging to experience because it goes where nobody wants to go. Brace yourself, sit through it, become wiser. Set up your radar to catch more obscure and very black humor. A

Scener ur ett Äktenskap (Scenes from a Marriage), 1973: Sometimes marriage is the biggest obstacle to successful couplehood. B+

Trollflöjten (The Magic Flute), 1975: Outstanding; and, having seen other Bergman, one sees how this fits in perfectly with his overall concerns. Bergman himself appears for approximately one second. A+

Ansikte mot ansikte (Face to Face), 1976: Anguish-athon from which I could not extract anything worthwhile. Others like it. The theatrical version was whittled down from a miniseries TV version, which I suspect I would have liked better. C-

The Serpent’s Egg, 1977: English-language. Decadent inter-war Germany at its best. Liv Ullman singing and dancing, with green hair, people dying mysteriously, opulent sets. Mostly un-Bergmanlike flick in seeming unfocused until the end. Beautiful to look at, though, with dedicated performances by all concerned. B-

Höstsonaten (Autumn Sonata), 1978: Top-notch examination of interpersonal family dynamics with drama-queen mother and repressed daughter. A+

Aus dem Leben der Marionetten (From the Life of the Marionettes), 1980: Rich movie in German about a murder and the murderer’s circle. I think I’ll have to watch it yet again to really get it. Mine is the mediocrely dubbed version (a subtitled version would be better). B+

Fanny och Alexander (Fanny and Alexander), 1982: Declared a masterpiece, and wonderful in many ways; but there are other Bergman shows which probe the same things deeper and tell us more. Bergman’s personal celebration of his own doings, and to be respected for that. B+

Saraband, 1984: Develops the relationship of the couple from Scenes from a Marriage to its conclusion or at least to a conclusive state of stasis. B

Efter Repetitionen (After the Rehearsal), 1984: A theater director, staying late, has probing conversations with an up-and-coming actress, a down-and-out actress, and himself about life, love, aging, and the theater. Though it sounds like a snoozefest, it’s captivating and brings our Bergman experience to a fitting end. A-

That’s all, folks!
Last edited by odinthor on Sun Nov 06, 2016 8:45 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: My Ingmar Bergman Scorecard

PostSun Oct 23, 2016 8:39 am

Re the films cut down from tv serials, the problem in the pre-video days was that you had to watch them 'live' or not at all. I recall seeing SCENES FROM A MARRIAGE and FACE TO FACE that way, and it often acts against enjoyment / appreciation and makes them a struggle to sit through.

In addition, unless you were able to visit venues such as the NFT, the early Bergmans were hard to see, but, as I found later, much more accessible as being closer to straight dramatic movies.

And the Tartan dvd of THE PHANTOM CARRIAGE (1920) has Bergman's BILDMAKARNA / THE IMAGE MAKERS (2000) as a bonus disc.
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Re: My Ingmar Bergman Scorecard

PostSun Oct 23, 2016 4:49 pm

Bergman's TV presentations of The Bacchae, The Misanthrope, and A Dream Play would surely have been well worth seeing. Perhaps some adequate recording was made and will eventually be made available!
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Re: My Ingmar Bergman Scorecard

PostTue Oct 25, 2016 3:10 pm

Funny, I was quite taken with Persona when I watched it recently, on the Criterion blu-ray (thankfully, my local library has quite a bit of Bergman). Beautifully shot (which you note) and wonderfully acted, I thought. I was drawn in by the theme of the effect of one forceful personality on another, and the consequences that can have in isolation. I also like Sawdust & Tinsel a shade more than you do, but I'm a sucker for a circus film, the seedier the better.

Thanks to TCM, was also able to see A Lesson in Love recently, a rich romantic comedy that I'm guessing many Bergman fans aren't so familiar with. Utterly charming, and wholly unexpected. (Same goes for TCM's showing of The Devil's Eye, for which I also agree with your assessment. Bibi Andersson is a delight here.)

About to watch From the Life of Marionettes, which I DVR'd from TCM. Their version of the Munich-shot film is in German (I assume when you say your version is dubbed, you mean into English?), which probably enhances the bleakness of it.

Looking forward to catching up with that Eclipse Early Bergman set one of these days, also available at my local library, and also have copies of Cries & Whispers, Smiles of a Summer Night, Hour of the Wolf and Shame waiting to be watched, plus the old Criterion laserdiscs of Winter Light and The Silence that a friend left me before moving to non-NTSC-friendly climes.
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Re: My Ingmar Bergman Scorecard

PostTue Oct 25, 2016 6:52 pm

s.w.a.c. wrote:Funny, I was quite taken with Persona when I watched it recently, on the Criterion blu-ray (thankfully, my local library has quite a bit of Bergman). Beautifully shot (which you note) and wonderfully acted, I thought. I was drawn in by the theme of the effect of one forceful personality on another, and the consequences that can have in isolation. I also like Sawdust & Tinsel a shade more than you do, but I'm a sucker for a circus film, the seedier the better.

Thanks to TCM, was also able to see A Lesson in Love recently, a rich romantic comedy that I'm guessing many Bergman fans aren't so familiar with. Utterly charming, and wholly unexpected. (Same goes for TCM's showing of The Devil's Eye, for which I also agree with your assessment. Bibi Andersson is a delight here.)

About to watch From the Life of Marionettes, which I DVR'd from TCM. Their version of the Munich-shot film is in German (I assume when you say your version is dubbed, you mean into English?), which probably enhances the bleakness of it.

Looking forward to catching up with that Eclipse Early Bergman set one of these days, also available at my local library, and also have copies of Cries & Whispers, Smiles of a Summer Night, Hour of the Wolf and Shame waiting to be watched, plus the old Criterion laserdiscs of Winter Light and The Silence that a friend left me before moving to non-NTSC-friendly climes.


Most glad that you're enjoying Bergman! I feel a simpatico with Bergman that I'll admit not a lot of people feel. As to Persona, I'd be delighted to be wrong; but, the first few times I saw it, I wondered why--as was not the case with other Bergman--I was unable to engage with it. Then I saw All These Women, his previous film. Due to the major theme in it, which I'll let others discern for themselves, I had an epiphany about Persona, and consequently have a suspicion that Bergman is rather elaborately, if covertly, pranking us in Persona. If others find in P. an enriching and valid experience, I'll happily withdraw my suspicions in my delight at being able to add another star to Bergman's crown. You've got some good viewing ahead of you--enjoy!
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Re: My Ingmar Bergman Scorecard

PostWed Oct 26, 2016 7:59 am

I didn't know anything about All These Women (his first film in colour, I believe) until I started going through his filmography during my most recent binge. Unfortunately, not an easy film to track down, I'd have to get the PAL DVD as I don't think there's a North American version. It'd be interesting to see how it lines up with Persona.

I'm guessing my empathy with Persona has to do with with the fact I've known women like the ones in the film, the same way that I first experienced Through a Glass Darkly around the same time a friend was diagnosed as schizophrenic. I seem to come across these films at a time when they have a certain resonance with my own life.
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Re: My Ingmar Bergman Scorecard

PostSun Nov 06, 2016 8:42 pm

Having just seen Hamnstad (alias "Port of Call") again, in justice to Bergman I'd like to revise my opinion (upward!), and indeed am about to revise my little blurb about it in the most recent main document above. What it says about me that worrisome characters I couldn't get into a couple of years ago I found very touching this time I'd rather not think about...
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Re: My Ingmar Bergman Scorecard

PostTue Nov 22, 2016 4:43 pm

And so, let us start to work our way through Bergman shows not directed by Bergman:

Eva (1948). Directed by Gustaf Molander, based on a short story by Ingmar Bergman; cinematography by Åke Dahlqvist. Film which starts out splendidly in all ways (acting, camera work, story); but then the story increasingly seems not to know what to do with itself, giving us powerfully dramatic and yet somehow disengaged scenes until it finally figures out a way to end.

Birger Malmsten, frequent starrer in early Bergman, is our leading man, and gives a sensitive and impassioned performance (as always). We also see Bergman regulars Eva Dahlbeck and Stig Olin in important but secondary roles. The Eva of the title is undertaken by yet another Eva, Eva Stiberg, who gives a solid performance in a role which, unfortunately, is without special demands. The early part of the film—with family drama! gypsies! a blind girl! a runaway train! two people dying on separate occasions!—is affecting, well-crafted, and panoramic in its emotions; the latter part—melancholy! drunkenness! weird seduction! temporary murder! a rowboat! baby a-birthin’!—is certainly episodically exciting; but, as I mentioned, the movie as a whole seems to lose its way. Enjoyable, and with some richly memorable moments. A grade of B seems appropriate, B+ if you’re simpatico with Malmsten as I am.
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Re: My Ingmar Bergman Scorecard

PostTue Nov 22, 2016 8:04 pm

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Re: My Ingmar Bergman Scorecard

PostThu Nov 24, 2016 10:29 am

Finally watched In the Life of Marionettes, gripping stuff, and as effective a portrait of a sociopath as you're likely to see. I probably should have watched Scenes from a Marriage first, as this is something of a spin-off, but I don't have a copy handy. Good performances all around, and I like some of the narrative flourishes, like mixing B&W and colour, jumping around in time, and the way the film loops back around to the beginning. Glad I was able to rewatch the murder scene at the start after I got to the end, to see how they lined up.
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Re: My Ingmar Bergman Scorecard

PostThu Nov 24, 2016 6:26 pm

s.w.a.c. wrote:Finally watched In the Life of Marionettes, gripping stuff, and as effective a portrait of a sociopath as you're likely to see. I probably should have watched Scenes from a Marriage first, as this is something of a spin-off, but I don't have a copy handy. Good performances all around, and I like some of the narrative flourishes, like mixing B&W and colour, jumping around in time, and the way the film loops back around to the beginning. Glad I was able to rewatch the murder scene at the start after I got to the end, to see how they lined up.


Thanks for posting--I was wondering how you had liked it. The carryover from Scenes from a Marriage is minimal, pretty much not more than "There they were, hatin' on each other in SfaM; now, on with the show..." If you have or get the long, segmented, version of SfaM, the Marionettes couple is only seen in the first episode, though mentioned in passing perhaps two or three times in later episodes. I like Marionettes, but am not quite yet comfortable that I "get" it fully. I'm going to replace my English-dubbed version with a subtitled one, which might bring it into better focus for me.
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Re: My Ingmar Bergman Scorecard

PostFri Dec 23, 2016 11:36 pm

Now continuing to add to these proceedings films written by Bergman but not directed by Bergman:

Trolösa (2000), which is to say Faithless; directed by Liv Ullman, cinematography by Jörgen Persson. Wife of conductor accedes to an affair, almost inadvertently, with his best friend, a somewhat unstable director, leading (surprise!) to a messed-up life and general angst. The actors are fully invested in their parts, the cinematography is fine if not striking, and Bergman’s script is imaginative in its structure and framing. Read online reviews (this is not a review, just a peek), and you’ll find mostly enthusiastic praise. I beg to differ from the majority. It’s an intelligent movie full of feeling; but I’ve found it mawkish and without depth the two or three times I’ve viewed it over the years. As is not the case elsewhere in Bergman, I come away from it without new insights into the human condition, just a feeling of impatience at being dragged through yet another iteration of thoughtless people getting themselves into pretty miserable mischief for no good reason. The main character herself finds it “squalid,” and that pretty much says it all. One finds on reflection that the movies Bergman writes but does not direct come from a certain intimately autobiographical part of his psyche, and tend to have a lack of that wider perspective which gives his directorial movies their universality. Having said that, Trolösa is by no means a waste of time; and you may be part of the happy majority which finds it a wondrous piece of work. For me, a flaccid B.
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Re: My Ingmar Bergman Scorecard

PostMon Jan 30, 2017 2:21 pm

Den Goda Viljan (lit. trans., “Good Will,” but the movie’s English name is “The Best Intentions”—ponder well the subtleties of distinction between the two), 1992. Written by Ingmar Bergman, directed by Bille August, starring Samuel Fröler, Pernille August (the director’s wife), with Max von Sydow in a secondary role. Near three-hour show (a longer version—333 minutes—was a four-part Swedish TV miniseries which I have not yet seen) based on Bergman’s parents. This film plays like a combination of “Scenes from a Marriage” and “Fanny & Alexander,” with contributions from other Bergman works such as “Secrets of Women.” Those who find Bergman irritating will find no respite here; those who cherish his work with its minute parsing of human feelings and relationships, and not much action, will feel right at home. Though I’m most definitely of the latter party, Den Goda Viljan does not seem entirely satisfactory to me (it’s likely I’d be happier with the long version, as it no doubt fills in many blanks), as it requires the audience member to take many things for granted which cry out for explanation. Why the estrangement between the various generations of our hero Henrik’s family? What’s going on with our heroine Anna and her parents? What happens to the waitress-girlfriend? Why is prominence given to “the Works” (evidently a mining company) without any payoff?—and so on.

That said, and simply accepting rather than putting the mind to work wondering “Why?” about the various jots and tittles, this is a production of many beauties, many wonders. The acting is superb, without exception, from major roles to walk-ons. The cinematography (Jörgen Persson) is poetic, well-conceived, and well-executed. The writing is intelligent and effective, with Bergman’s characteristic stagey moments giving us something richer than reality. The music is sensitive and appropriate, though I found it a bit self-conscious in places (OK, I get it already—a chord or two on the piano means Something Significant is happening). If you’re in the mood to thrill to an action-packed adventure, this is not the movie to reach for; if you’re in the mood for a sensitively-acted, well-produced relationship drama—and you have lots of time—sit right down and enjoy. B+.

And so, three years later, we come to the end of my survey of Ingmar Bergman’s films, this final group (the present film, “Faithless,” and “Eva”) being ones he did not direct but only wrote. I hope that, in the course of these postings, I have given you something which helps you find your way through the mysterious and captivating Bergmanian forest. Those who have seen only such efforts as “The Seventh Seal,” “Persona,” “Scenes from a Marriage,” or “Fanny & Alexander,” are missing out on some profound depictions of the human condition, some deep insights into how we tick (not always keeping good time as we tick). The common impression that Bergman is nothing but depression and despair shows how wrong common impressions can be. Even in the darkest, starkest moments, there is hope, and/or beauty, and/or a survival of the spirit. Is it optimism to hide, to close our eyes to the shadows of life? In Bergman there is the deeper optimism that we can see the shadows, we can come to terms with them, and we can even find a beauty which is beyond the reach of the shadows. In Bergman, the wonders of Life surround us; and, together, we can overcome the darkness.
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Re: My Ingmar Bergman Scorecard

PostThu Nov 02, 2017 5:53 am

s.w.a.c. wrote:I didn't know anything about All These Women (his first film in colour, I believe) until I started going through his filmography during my most recent binge. Unfortunately, not an easy film to track down, I'd have to get the PAL DVD as I don't think there's a North American version. It'd be interesting to see how it lines up with Persona.

Phew, TCM is showing All These Women this month (in a double feature with Summer With Monika), in the wee hours of Sunday, Nov. 12. I can finally catch up with it without having to shell out for an import copy.
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Re: My Ingmar Bergman Scorecard

PostThu Nov 02, 2017 4:13 pm

s.w.a.c. wrote:
s.w.a.c. wrote:I didn't know anything about All These Women (his first film in colour, I believe) until I started going through his filmography during my most recent binge. Unfortunately, not an easy film to track down, I'd have to get the PAL DVD as I don't think there's a North American version. It'd be interesting to see how it lines up with Persona.

Phew, TCM is showing All These Women this month (in a double feature with Summer With Monika), in the wee hours of Sunday, Nov. 12. I can finally catch up with it without having to shell out for an import copy.


I'll be interested in your thoughts on it! To tip my hand a bit, my view is that a very sly Bergman made Persona for one of the characters in All These Women (or at least for what the character represents)...
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Re: My Ingmar Bergman Scorecard

PostSat Nov 04, 2017 9:00 am

Great OP. I've seen a few less than you; never passed up an opportunity to see one from IB. I like your assessments, particularly about:
Seventh Seal: As Pauline Kael said about Treasure of Sierra Madre, when you've seen this, you really know you've seen something. Such bold artistic ambition, such perfect framing, lighting -- it's like seeing a major Breughel painting for the first time and realizing you'd change nothing; you just want to absorb it.
Virgin Spring: Compelling, but somehow this one doesn't leave me with much to ponder.
Persona: Yep, leaves me cold, too. Very much like someone offering you an herbal tea that they insist will be exotic and different, and after your first sip, all you can think is 'steeped weeds.'
Magic Flute: I am in no way an opera buff, but I loved this film; every frame, every cast member -- you can sense Bergman's love of the form throughout.
My one disagreement with you is over Serpent's Egg, which I found to be junk -- it's like finding a hairball in a box of chocolates -- I find nothing in it that resonates with his better (let alone peak) films.
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Re: My Ingmar Bergman Scorecard

PostSat Nov 04, 2017 2:05 pm

Dave Pitts wrote:Great OP. I've seen a few less than you; never passed up an opportunity to see one from IB. I like your assessments, particularly about:
Seventh Seal: As Pauline Kael said about Treasure of Sierra Madre, when you've seen this, you really know you've seen something. Such bold artistic ambition, such perfect framing, lighting -- it's like seeing a major Breughel painting for the first time and realizing you'd change nothing; you just want to absorb it.
Virgin Spring: Compelling, but somehow this one doesn't leave me with much to ponder.
Persona: Yep, leaves me cold, too. Very much like someone offering you an herbal tea that they insist will be exotic and different, and after your first sip, all you can think is 'steeped weeds.'
Magic Flute: I am in no way an opera buff, but I loved this film; every frame, every cast member -- you can sense Bergman's love of the form throughout.
My one disagreement with you is over Serpent's Egg, which I found to be junk -- it's like finding a hairball in a box of chocolates -- I find nothing in it that resonates with his better (let alone peak) films.


Many thanks!

Yes, I agree: I think I was in too generous a mood when I wrote my bit on Serpent's Egg. Leaving the picture, one doesn't really come away from it with any new insights into human nature, ourselves, or Bergman; and that's a disappointment.

My next Bergman desideratum is to get a subtitled version of Marionettes to replace my English-dubbed videocassette. Each time I've watched the dubbed one, I get the feeling that I've missed some important detail.

I've recently been re-viewing many of the earlier Bergman films, and find that I like them more and more (same phenomenon with Hitchcock for me). We are fortunate that Ingmar left us so much to exult in!
_____
"She confessed subsequently to Cottard that she found me remarkably enthusiastic; he replied that I was too emotional, that I needed sedatives, and that I ought to take up knitting." —Marcel Proust (Cities of the Plain).

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