BTXXVIII 1958: The Venetian Woman

The Venetian Woman (Venetianskan). Ingmar Bergman. 1958. ⭐⭐⭐★★★.

Bergman was so productive these years that establishing a chronology isn’t trivial. But this TV production seems to have been released before his next feature film, but I have no idea which one was made first.


Anyway, it’s Bergman’s second TV production. It was apparently shown live on Swedish television? Some of the scene changes would seem to require pauses… Or perhaps it wasn’t live. But it’s a play shot with multiple cameras.

Very few of Bergman’s regular crew appears here (as opposed to in Mr. Sleeman Calls). I think the only one is Gunnel Lindblom?

Anyway anyway, this is an Italian bawdy 16th century farce, and it’s quite fun. Very convoluted plot, as you’d expect.

This post is part of the 87 Bergman Things series.

BTXXVII 1957: Mr. Sleeman is Coming

Mr. Sleeman is Coming (Herr Sleeman kommer). Ingmar Bergman. 1957. ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐★.

This is Bergman’s first TV movie. It doesn’t seem to have gotten an official release, so I had to get it from teh torrenz.

It’s a play filmed for TV (with multiple cameras, I think). Bergman’s usual cohort of actors (Bibi Andersson, Max von Sydow, etc) show up, and it’s all rather fascinating.

The actors are great and I like the staging, but it’s a bit difficult to get around the central conceit of the film: A girl who’s convinced that she has to marry some aged gentleman (for reasons that are never really explained). Why doesn’t she just run away with young strapping von Sydow?

So it’s a bit difficult to get into it when your left eyebrow is constantly raised.

This post is part of the 87 Bergman Things series.

BTXXVI 1957: Nattens ljus

Nattens ljus. Lars-Eric Kjellgren. 1957. ⭐⭐★★★★.

I got this one from the Bergman Pirate. It’s not officially a Bergman film: He worked on the script, but is uncredited.

Is this the only non-Bergman-directed film I’ve seen Gunnar Björnstrand in? And… he’s not as good here as I had come to expect.

The entire film is a mess. It’s choppy and oddly constructed, and most of the actors seem to have gotten instruction like “BE LESS NATURAL! LESS! NATURAL!”

Which can work, but it doesn’t here. But there are some fun things in here, like the film-in-the-film (that’s in colour) and has a Bergman parody directing it (wearing a white beret).

This post is part of the 87 Bergman Things series.

BTXXV 1957: Behind Wild Strawberries

The narrator says “There’s me”. And if she’s the script girl, then that’s Katinka Faragó, according to imdb. Narrator identified! Possibly!

Behind Wild Strawberries (Bakomfilm Smultronstället). Ingmar Bergman. 1957. ⭐⭐⭐⭐★★.

I still don’t know who’s doing the voice-over on these documentaries, but she seems fun.

You don’t really get much information beyond what the actors’ names are, though. But there’s the occasional amusing anecdote.

This post is part of the 87 Bergman Things series.

BTXXIV 1957: Wild Strawberries

Wild Strawberries (Smultronstället). Ingmar Bergman. 1957. ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐.

Is this Bergman’s greatest commercial success, perhaps? It’s probably second to The Seventh Seal as “The Bergman Film”, though.

It’s such a lovely and surprising film. It has a road movie structure where people fade in and out of the proceedings in a very pleasing manner.

This post is part of the 87 Bergman Things series.

BTXXIII 1956: Behind The Seventh Seal

Behind The Seventh Seal (Bakomfilm Det sjunde inseglet). Ingmar Bergman. 1956. ⭐⭐⭐⭐★★.

The narrator on this short is the same as on the previous one, but I still don’t know who it is. Perhaps the script supervisor? The narration is very seat-of-the-pants: The narrator has obviously never seen the footage before, so she’s commenting on what she’s seeing in real time, which is kind of fun.

But it also means that she often doesn’t know what’s really going on in the shots.

Apparently most of this footage has been shot by Bergman himself?

I got it off of the torrentzes, but I would guess the origin is from an old Swedish DVD.

This post is part of the 87 Bergman Things series.

BTXXII 1957: The Seventh Seal

The Seventh Seal (Det sjunde inseglet). Ingmar Bergman. 1957. ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐.

This is probably the one film everybody thinks of when you mention Ingmar Bergman, right? Very serious, filled with symbolism and religious anguish. As pop-culture penetration of art film goes, nothing beats Death on the beach playing chess.

And Max von Sydow, for the first time in a Bergman film!

I thought this film was from later in Bergman’s career, but here it is, in the middle of his sweetest comedies.

The film seems constructed to entice people to write treatises about it, what with the film commenting on itself and commenting on Bergman’s career and stuff. Just the stuff film nerds love.

This post is part of the 87 Bergman Things series.