BTLIX 1976: Face to Face

Face to Face (Ansikte mot ansikte). Ingmar Bergman. 1976. ⭐⭐⭐⭐★★.

Originally a three hour TV series, “[i]t was edited down for theatrical releases for running times from 114 to 135 minutes.” And it stars Liv Ullmann and Erlend Josephson, so it’s very much similar to Scenes from a Marriage in that way.

This one’s produced by Dino de Laurentiis, who was apparently quite satisfied with the results. Bergman… not so much.

Now when I see Face to Face, I remember an old farce with Bob Hope, Bing Crosby, and Dorithy Lamour. It’s called The Road to Morocco (David Butler, 1942). They have been shipwrecked and come floating on a raft in front of a projected New York in the background. In the final scene, Bob Hope throws himself to the ground and begins to scream and foam at the mouth. The others stare at him in astonishment and ask what in the world he is doing. He immediately calms down and says, ‘This is how you have to do it if you want to win an Oscar.’

When I see Face to Face and Liv Ullmann’s incredibly loyal effort on my behalf, I still can’t help thinking on The Road to Morocco.

Exactly. I feel that Bergman dumbed it down for an international (i.e., American) audience. That Fraudian psychodrama in the hospital (which I guess is what Bergman’s referring to) is so kitchy. And most of the dream scenes are… well… clichés. But Ullmann is wonderful here, and there are some really strong scenes.

The first thing I was struck by when this film started was how awful the sound was: A loud buzzing sound. And Bergman is really particular about the sound quality. But then it turned out that the DVD defaulted to the Italian dubbed version, and when I switched to the Swedish one, everything was er, better. But the film transfer is really weird. I suspect that it’s an interlaced transfer that’s been upscaled to DVD and then interlaced again. It’s sort of ugly.

To conclude: Don’t buy DVDs from Italy.

This post is part of the 87 Bergman Things series.

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