BTVI 1948: Port of Call

Port of Call (Hamnstad). Ingmar Bergman. 1948. ⭐⭐⭐⭐★★.

Oh, it’s Bergman’s 100th birthday this year, so there’s supposed to be a bunch of retrospectives, re-releases and documentaries this year. I had no idea when I embarked upon my Bergmania…

Anyway, this is a very strangely edited film. It’s like if the editor is off by a few frames every cut. Things judder and shiver.

Bergman says in interviews about this film that he was basically riffing on Rossellini and Italian neo-realism in this film, and it’s quite different from his earlier movies. The people do seem more realistic than his earlier attempts, and I don’t think it features any of the actors that he usually uses?

The evil mother and the evil social worker are pretty tiresome cliches. There are some good scenes in here, but also some pretty bad ones (like the one where Our Hero gets drunk).

This post is part of the 87 Bergman Things series.

BTV 1948: Music in Darkness

Music in Darkness (Musik i mörker). Ingmar Bergman. 1948. ⭐⭐⭐⭐★★.

Once again, Birger Malmsten stars, and like Lorens Marmstedt allegedly adviced Bergman two movies ago, “You have to remember that Birger Malmsten is no Jean Gabin”. He still isn’t, but he’s perfectly nice if somewhat uninspiring. (I just had a peek at Bergmans filmography, and it looks like Malmsten is going to star in an ungodly number of Bergman’s films.)

Gunnar Björnstrand pops up again, but Bergman had yet to establish his stable of, er, stable actors.

Once again, Bergman adapts a melodrama based on an existing work. The previous two films were based on plays, but this one is based on a novel, which you would assume would give Bergman a wider range of possibilities. And this one is less like a filmed play, but it’s still pretty uninteresting.

As usual for this time period, just watching the actors is pretty entertaining, especially Mai Zetterling, Björnstrand and Naima Wifstrand (who would go on to appear in half a dozen more Bergman films).

Bergman sure likes having his female actors running around naked. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

(*cough* Weinstein *cough*)

This post is part of the 87 Bergman Things series.

BTIV 1947: A Ship Bound For India

A Ship Bound For India (Skepp till India land). Ingmar Bergman. 1947. ⭐⭐⭐★★★.

You can say many things about this film, but you can’t really claim that the DVD transfer is very satisfactory. It’s grainy and uneven as fuck, but perhaps that just reflects the unrestored original film…

As would come to be common in Bergman films, we get some return actors from his previous film. Unfortunately, it’s not as good as that one. The cinematography is pretty bad and the story doesn’t really seem to go anywhere. There are some enjoyable performances, of course, and some Bergman ticks start showing up (theatre performances and clowns and stuff)…

But mostly forgettable.

This post is part of the 87 Bergman Things series.

BTIII 1946: It Rains On Our Love

It Rains On Our Love (Det regnar på vår kärlek). Ingmar Bergman. 1946. ⭐⭐⭐⭐★★.

Now we’re getting somewhere. This in a different league from the two previous films.

It’s based on a play written by a Norwegian guy, but, still, it’s a pretty good story. Very time-appropriate.

It’s got a nice flow, and Gunnar Björnstrand shows up in a small scene near the end. Björnstrand would go on to feature prominently in dozens of Bergman films, so it’s fun to see him pop up here. He’s wonderful here, too. “Proletarian ruffian!”

It’s a sweet film.

This post is part of the 87 Bergman Things series.

BTII 1946: Crisis

Crisis (Kris). Ingmar Bergman. 1946. ⭐⭐⭐★★★.

Bergman’s directorial debut (if you don’t count the last scene of the previous film).

The introductory voice-over presents the film as “an everyday play… almost a comedy”. According to Swedish Wikipedia, the production was almost shut down, but the studio head gave Bergman a second chance and restarted the shooting from the start again. It bombed at the box office, and Berman himself allegedly called it “a magnificent failure”.

And it’s not a very distinct movie: I don’t think anybody would be able to guess that it’s a Bergman film if you were to blind test them on it. (Of course, then they’d only hear the dialogue, but I know what I mean.)

It’s a quite standard Swedish lighthearted film from the 40s, and as such it’s quite enjoyable, but it’s a rather choppy viewing experience. There are some really fascinating scenes (like at the train station), but long stretches of the film just bumbles along without much shape. (And the cinematography is rather indifferent.)

This post is part of the 87 Bergman Things series.

BTI 1944: Torment

Torment (Hets). Alf Sjöberg. 1944. ⭐⭐★★★★.

This is very much a young man’s film: It’s all about a sadistic Latin teacher and his hapless pupils. I’m just guessing, but I assume that it’s Bergman’s revenge on a specific teacher.

This isn’t directed by Bergman, but Bergman wrote the script. It still looks a lot like you’d expect a Bergman film would, so either his script was very specific… OK, I just googled, and he was the assistant director, and directed the last scene himself. That makes sense.

It’s not a very good film. The characters are caricatures, the plot is both nonsensical and eye-rollingly obvious, and the dialogue is risible.

But it does have a mawkish charm going on.

This post is part of the 87 Bergman Things series.

87 Bergman Things

Ingmar Bergman. There’s nobody more jolly, so I’ve long wanted to (re-)watch all his films. But every time I’ve poked around to find a convenient way to do that, I’ve been discouraged by the spotty way his filmography has been made available: One film here; three films on this box set; five on this (with one overlap with the first one)… It just seemed exhausting.

I had kinda expected some enterprising Swede to get a government grant to create An Extremely Complete Bluray Box, but apparently the Swedes aren’t proud enough of their most famous person to do that…

In 2006 Tartan released a 30 DVD box set, but getting a copy was like £££. (That’s about 20% more than $$$.) It apparently went out of print toot sweet because Tartan went under. But, finally, this December, Palisades (who bought up the remnants of Tartan) made a new edition, and I got one, so now, surely, I could sit down and get jollified!

Then I started looking at the list of films included… “Hey… this doesn’t have that film… or that other film… HEY! THIS ISN”T COMPLETE!”

But, of course, it made no promise to be. I just assumed. So my OCD kicked in and I started poking around, and got the rest of the films on single DVDs. Which brought the total up to about 55. And then I started looking into his TV stuff, which a very nice person in France is selling bootleg ..DVDs of. (Isn’t that wonderful? That such a thing still exists in these torrenty days?)

And then I started thinking about the documentaries and shorts Bergman had made; some of which are available from Swedish TV (if you use a VPN terminated in Sweden; haha! me so haxorz), and then I found a torrent collection that included lots of other bits and pieces.

Which brought the total number of Bergman films, plays, operas, ad camplaigns, documentaries and shorts up to… *gulp* 87.

There are 8 items I’ve been unable to locate, but let’s just say that this is complete. Enough. It’s complete enough. *nervous OCD eye tick increases*

Let’s see if I can watch them all this winter.