BTLXXXIII 2000: The Image Makers

The Image Makers (Bildmakarna). Ingmar Bergman. 2000. ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐★.

This is the TV version of what Bergman wanted to be his final theatre staging. If you think “TV theatre”, this is it: It has an aesthetic that harks back to (or emulates perfectly) the first wave of “TV theatre” in the 60s and 70s when they could finally do video editing.

So it looks quite unadjusted from the theatre staging, I assume. Unlike his other TV versions of things he’s done on the stage, the actors are really acting out and not dialling it back for the camera.

I love it.

It’s the perfect Bergman project: It’s about Selma Lagerlöf watching the movie version of her 1912 novel Kórkarlen in 1921. So we get Lagerlöf (who’s the most famous author in Sweden at the time) interacting with some definitely low rent movie people, and drama ensues.

Anita Björk is absolutely riveting. However, it loses a bit of its tension in the second act when she’s not present.

It is, curiously enough, the only of Bergman’s TV plays (I think) that have been given a DVD release (with the 1921 Körkarlen film as a double feature; bless Tartan Video). All the other ones I had to get from torrents, pirates and region-blocked web sites.

This post is part of the 87 Bergman Things series.

BTLXXXII 2000: Faithless

Faithless (Trolösa). Liv Ullmann. 2000. ⭐⭐⭐⭐★★.

Another film directed by Liv Ullmann, but this time without Sven Nykvist. It’s a film about making a story, and also about that story. It’s a fun way to approach this story, but it’s a pretty harsh self-portrait Bergman’s painted of himself. (Assuming that the young asshole of a director is Bergman himself.) Bergman is looking back on his life with a sense of shame, apparently. Or it may be Ullman’s framing…

The rehearsal to A Dream Play is hilarious. Stina Ekblad as a horrible Indra’s daughter is brilliantly awful.

But… while there are fabulous scenes here, it doesn’t quite come together for me. I just lost interest after three or four hours.

It was not a success internationally, but was well-received in Sweden.

This post is part of the 87 Bergman Things series.

BTLXXXI 1997: Behind In the Presence of a Clown

Behind In the Presence of a Clown (I sällskap med en clown). unknown. 1997. ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐.

Geeze. The “making of” films of Bergman’s films in the 80s and 90s are so fascinating. This is another fly-on-the-wall thing where we follow the taping (it’s TV) of the movie, and it’s pretty great. I didn’t know that Bergman was so hands-on. That is, ever time he talks to an actor, he puts his hand of the actor’s arm, back or even face. (“No, don’t do that with your forehead. Just the eyes.”)

We also get a taste of Bergman’s rage (at a technical problems where he immediately backs down when the sheepish technician says “but it was a mistake”) which was apparently a major thing at his earlier films (but he mellowed somewhat as he got older).

I downloaded my copy from SVT after setting my VPN for “Sweden”.

This post is part of the 87 Bergman Things series.

BTLXXX 1997: In the Presence of a Clown

In the Presence of a Clown (Larmar och gör sig till). Ingmar Bergman. 1997. ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐★.

Bergman continues his stories about his family (more fictional than ever). This time it’s more about his uncle Carl (played by the same guy who did the part starting with Fanny & Alexander, so it’s his fourth film in this role). And Pernilla August is back as Bergman’s mother (for the third time).

But is Anita Björk playing the same aunt as the last time? Hm…

Anyway, this is a rather intimate TV thing, but it’s not TV theatre, exactly. It’s structurally very odd and quite fascinating and somehow reminds you of films from Bergman’s entire career. Well, except the first ten years.

This post is part of the 87 Bergman Things series.

BTLXXIX 1996: Harald & Harald

Harald & Harald. Ingmar Bergman. 1996. ⭐⭐⭐⭐★★.

This is a satirical political short (all unusual things for Bergman) about a text produced by the Ministry of Culture in Sweden. It’s funny, but I don’t have the context here, so I’m slightly lost.

Here’s a typical sentence they’re reading and making fun of: “The theatre is characterised by the number of people who are extremely interested being rather small.”

It’s stilted bureaucratese, but, you know…

I got my copy of this from the Bergman bootlegger.

This post is part of the 87 Bergman Things series.

BTLXXVIII 1996: Private Confessions

Private Confessions (Enskilda samtal). Liv Ullmann. 1996. ⭐⭐⭐⭐★★.

I couldn’t find this film anywhere: Not on Amazon, not Netflix, not nowhere, so I torrented it. And the torrent turned out to be with Spanish dialogue. *sigh*

But then it turns out that some kind person has put the entire thing on Youtube. Thank you.

Pernilla August and Samuel Fröler reprise their roles as Bergman’s parents from The Best Intentions. But confusingly enough, Max von Sydow is back, too, but not in the same role.

It’s directed by Liv Ullmann, and she interprets Bergman’s script much more convincingly than Bille August did in the previous film. And Sven Nykvist is back as the cinematographer, so it’s a jolly old reunion, you have to assume.

This was made as av TV series, too, but I watched the shortened theatrical version. One of these years I should rewatch all the TV versions of everything from Scenes from a Marriage onwards…

This post is part of the 87 Bergman Things series.

BTLXXVII 1995: The Last Gasp

The Last Gasp (Sista skriket). Ingmar Bergman. 1995. ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐★.

The first ten minutes is documentary: Bergman shows us clips from old Swedish films (pre 1920) and tells us a bit about the people that made the films.

And then we get a one act TV play where Bergman imagines a meeting between two of these filmmakers.

It’s basically a monologue, and it’s great. The guy who does the monologue’s fine, but I can’t help imagining Gunnar Björnstrand in the role, perhaps because he seems to be adopting some of his mannerisms in imagining what a 1920 actor/director would behave like.

This post is part of the 87 Bergman Things series.