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.

BTLXXIV 1992: Sunday’s Children

Sunday’s Children (Söndagsbarn). Daniel Bergman. 1992. ⭐⭐★★★★.

This film is based on a script by Ingmar Bergman (which is again based on a chapter of his autobiography Laterna Magica). It’s about Bergman’s fraught relationship with his father, and it’s directed by Bergman’s son Daniel.

It’s like Bergman-o-rama.

The most amazing thing about this film is that the cinematographer won the award that year at the Swedish Oscars. It’s so thoroughly indifferent.

There are interesting scenes in here, but they’re not very frequent. The rest of the film shifts uneasily between boredom and embarrassment. I wonder whether this could have been salvaged by better actors, director and cinematography, but who knows? If everything on the screen had been something else, then it would be have been something else.

So deep.

This post is part of the 87 Bergman Things series.

BTLXXIII 1992: Before Madame de Sade

Before Madame de Sade (Inför Markisinnan de Sade). 1992. ⭐⭐⭐★★★.

This is an interview that was shown before Madame de Sade on Swedish TV, so I should probably have watched it first, but I hate knowing stuff about things I’m going to see, so I didn’t. Hah!

Bergman mostly talks about Mishima and not so much about the play, which is a bit disappointing. I wanted nerdy technical details about what Bergman had cut from the text and stuff, but we barely get into that.

This post is part of the 87 Bergman Things series.

BTLXXII 1992: Madame de Sade

Madame de Sade (Markisinnan de Sade). Ingmar Bergman. 1992. ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐.

This is the TV version of Mishima’s play that Bergman had staged at several theatres. It looks like it’s been somewhat reworked for TV: It’s by no means just a filmed version of the stage version.

I got my copy off of teh torrenz, and it’s a kinda crappy copy, because it’s been sourced from VHS and there’s a loud buzzing sound throughout.

I’ve never thought much of Mishima: I’ve always found him somewhere on the trite-to-melodramatic scale, but this it a totes fascinating staging. And the actors! Geez. Brilliant, especially, well, all six of them! Amazing! But, of course, Stina Ekblad is a particular favourite, as always.

This post is part of the 87 Bergman Things series.

BTLXXI 1986: The Blessed Ones

The Blessed Ones (De två saliga). Ingmar Bergman. 1986. ⭐⭐⭐★★★.

Bergman ended his film career with Fanny & Alexander, but after Bergman’s previous TV film was upscaled from 16mm to 32mm and shown in theatres anyway, he apparently decided to make sure this never happened again by doing his first TV movie on video.

(He’d done some theatre pieces on video before, but I think this is the first film…)

Sven Nykvist, Bergman’s cinematographer for decades, had no interest in working on video, so he said “bye”, and instead we have Per Norén, who’s… not Sven Nykvist. Bergman must have been satisfied with the results, because he’d join Bergman again for a couple more TV movies.

It looks like it has been filmed with multiple cameras? So it’s somewhere at the uneasy half-way point of being between filmed theatre and a movie. But it’s an unpretentious style I kinda like in a nostalgic way.

And Harriet Andersson is back! She’s like fab.

I got my copy of this movie from der torrenz; it doesn’t seem to be generally available anywhere? It’s a good copy, doesn’t seem to have been on a VHS before being digitised.

Oh, right. It’s Bergman’s third movie based on a screenplay by Ulla Isaksson (the first two were The Virgin Spring and Brink of Life). As he seldom did films based on other people’s scripts during that period, it’s rather significant, but of what I don’t know. Well, OK, those films are great, but, er, this one isn’t.

It’s the most straightforward extensive depiction of psychosis I’ve seen on the screen, and it’s convincing, but that doesn’t really make it fascinating.

This post is part of the 87 Bergman Things series.

BTLXX 1983: Ingmar Bergman Bids Farewell to Film

Ingmar Bergman Bids Farewell to Film (Ingmar Bergman tar farväl av filmenb). Nils-Petter Sundgren. 1983. ⭐⭐⭐⭐★★.

Hey! Another documentary following Fanny & Alexander. The previous one was a fly-on-the-wall “making of”, and it was absolutely brilliant. This one is basically a guy interviewing Bergman about Fanny & Alexander for an hour.

For what it is, it’s good, but it’s completely unambitious.

I got my copy of this, too, from the Criterion bluray.

This post is part of the 87 Bergman Things series.