BTLII 1972: Cries & Whispers

Cries & Whispers (Viskningar och rop). Ingmar Bergman. 1972. ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐.

Unless I misremember the following films, Cries & Whispers is sort of the end of an era: It’s the last of the classic 60s films (even if we’re now in the 70s). After this, it all becomes a bit confusing, with TV productions (sometimes cut down into theatrical productions), foreign co-productions and finally Bergman leaving Sweden for a few years.

But if this is the end of something, it’s also a triumph. I think it’s Bergman’s best film, and it was also a commercial success (which was extra welcome since Bergman had financed it (partially) himself, and the actors too percentages of the net instead of wages (and it was amusingly enough distributed in the US by schlockmeister Roger Corman)).

As usual, Bergman was critiqued for being too booshwah:

This is a world event, so they say. Just like Volvo and Swedish vodka, Bergman is a saleable product in the global marketplace. […] Ingmar Bergman is one of this country’s truly reactionary artists. He would never, as many other artists did, take a stand on behalf of the people of Vietnam. He is very hostile towards the proletarian theatres that are beginning to spring up. In acting circles it is a well known fact that he thinks that workers’ theatre is bad theatre. He would never sink to such a low level. Bergman makes art for company directors and their like, a sort of Playboy art. It always involves a little nudity, something a bit shocking and a few emotional entanglements. Made for export.

And like many of Bergman’s best films, it almost fails the reverse Bechdel test (but the husbands exchange one line near the end).

This post is part of the 87 Bergman Things series.

Useful Consumer Review

You know when you’re measuring out things for baking? So you put a mixing bowl on the kitchen scale and then measure out 300g of sugar, and then you tare it back to zero, and then you’re going to pour 500g flour into the bowl, but after pouring some flour, the flour bag is empty, so you start looking through the cupboard for more flour, and just when you’re about to start pouring the rest of the flour, and then the scale auto-switches itself off? And then you cry and cry because your life is ruined forever and ever?

Nothing like that has happened to me, but here’s the solution:

The Soehnle Page Profi.

It does have auto-off functionality, but according to my rigorous testing, it waits until ten minutes of inactivity before doing that. Which should be enough to look through several kitchens’ worth of cupboards for that bag of flour.

And it takes AAA batteries, which is convenient, and it has a max range of 15kg, which is 3x more than most kitchen scales.

On the less positive side, the viewing angle for the LCD display is a bit on the low side, and it’s very shiny and it looks like a grease stain catastrophe after a few seconds. And the touch tare/on-off buttons are way to easy to touch (heh heh) accidentally.

Death to all touch buttons!

BTLI 1970: The Lie

The Lie (Reservatet). Jan Molander. 1970. ⭐⭐⭐★★★.

This TV play (directed by Jan Molander from a script by Bergman) had its origin in the work with The Passion of Anna film: The script for that film apparently started off as this script, but then evolved into something very different, so Bergman gave the original script to somebody else to direct.

Or something.

I found this on the SVT web page, but had to use a VPN to trick it into believing that I’m in Sweden to get it to allow me to watch it.

A British version was also made, directed by Alan Bridges. And… an American version? And a Yugoslav version? It’s all so confusing. Hm…

Oh!

This was simultaneously made in many European countries as part of the EBU “The Largest Theatre in the World” project, where each member country offered a TV play which member states then made their own language versions of.

I wouldn’t really have guessed that this was a Bergman script if I hadn’t known, I think. It seems so scattered and unfocused.

This post is part of the 87 Bergman Things series.

BTL 1971: The Touch

The Touch (Beröringen). Ingmar Bergman. 1971. ⭐⭐★★★★.

The intention was to shoot The Touch in both English and Swedish. In an original version that doesn’t seem to exist anymore, English was spoken by those who were English-speaking and Swedish by those who were Swedes. I belive that it just possibly was slightly less unbearable than the totally English-language version, which was made at the request of the Americans.

There are only two films Bergman has forbidden from being shown: This Can’t Happen Here and this one.

So I had to get my copy off of teh torrentz, which seems to be sourced from a copy of a rental VHS, partially overwritten.

Who knew that Elliott Gould is a bad actor? I mean, he isn’t, but he is here, so Bergman really screwed up here.

This is the first one he did with an American actor, I think? I think it’s here to prepare us for his really bad films he did in the late 70s, if I remember correctly, but I guess we’ll see…

It’s not as bad as This Can’t Happen Here. But it’s a strangely amateurish film: Bergman’s usually so careful about the sound, for instance, and it’s a constant shifting symphony of various buzzing sounds here. It sounds and looks like an low-budget film for the first time in Bergman’s career.

Or perhaps it’s just this copy of a VHS copy.

This post is part of the 87 Bergman Things series.

BTXLIX 1969: The Passion of Anna

The Passion of Anna (En passion). Ingmar Bergman. 1969. ⭐⭐⭐⭐★★.

Whaa? This film is not in 4:3? It’s more like… 16:11? At least the DVD is.

And it’s in colour, too, but Bergman’s already done that.

You kinda think of Bergman as being extremely distinctive and set in his own ways, but viewing his films chronologically, you really get a feel for how he changes with the times. It’s obvious that he’s seen a lot of Jean-Luc Godard before making this one, for instance.

(The bit where Liv Ullmann talks to the camera rather shows Bergman’s pettiness.  He cuts her off mid-sentence, as if to make fun of her.  It’s a childish act of aggression.)

It’s another chamber piece, but with some excursions. But what an amazing cast: Liv Ullmann, Bibi Andersson, Max von Sydow and (relative Bergman newcomer) Erland Josephson. They’re scintillating.

But somehow… it’s doesn’t quite come together.

United Artists was the company responsible for international distribution of The Passion of Anna. The Swedish newspaper Expressen was far from happy with the company’s marketing: ‘Despite their new style of language, the same old clichés are being trotted out: A film from Sweden – that nation of suicidal sex addicts who find the temperature cold outside but all the more warm in bed.’

Miaow.

This post is part of the 87 Bergman Things series.