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.

BTLXXVI 1992: The Best Intentions

The Best Intentions (Den goda viljan). Bille August. 1992. ⭐⭐⭐★★★.

The copy I had of this film didn’t work, so I had to watch it via Amazon Prime, and it turns out to have two levels of subtitling in English: One from the theatrical version (burned into the film) and one for the hard of hearing (which I probably could have switched off before I ripped it from Amazon for watching on Linux). And since it’s Amazon, the latter subtitles grow increasingly out of sync and at the end appear half a minute before the sound.

Oh, well.

Anyway, this is yet another film with a script by Bergman based on his autobiography. (Well, it’s a TV series also released theatrically.) So lots of early-1900s drama. But this isn’t bad; directed by the guy who later did The House of the Spirits and other overblown pan-European melodramas.

It’s fun seeing Max von Sydow again. It’s been, like, several weeks. But everything that’s fun about Bergman has been straightened out and made obvious and overblown; no emotional beat is allowed to proceed without the score telling us how to feel, the children laugh at exactly the right place, the camera moves to the right place for the actors to walk into for maximum melodramatic effect.

This was apparently a major success and won a lot of awards (like the Cannes d’or one). I think it doesn’t get interesting until after the marriage, because the portrait of the priest and his wife (i.e., Bergman’s parents) at work is new and fresh and very sympathetic. And then it goes zzz again.

This post is part of the 87 Bergman Things series.

BTLXXV 1993: The Bacchae

The Bacchae (Backanterna). Ingmar Bergman. 1993. ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐★.

Bergman had first staged this opera to great acclaim at the Stockholm opera. This TV version is, as usual with Bergman, hugely reworked. And between the acts we get a five minute lecture about Dionysus.

Anyway, it’s trey fab, especially the first act. I think it loses some tension in the second act when the plot goes a bit eh? I mean, we (and the Bacchae) are supposed to care that much about that dick-head king dying for some reason or other instead of rejoicing? It’s sad for the mother, of course, but, uhm.

But the first act is off the curb.

I got my copy of this from the Bergman bootlegger.

This post is part of the 87 Bergman Things series.