BTXLVIII 1969: The Rite

The Rite (Riten). Ingmar Bergman. 1969. ⭐⭐⭐⭐★★.

Bergman had done a handful of things for TV before, but up until this one, they had all been theatre plays adapted for TV. This is his first “real” film for TV, and he apparently made it because he was fed up with how much time and effort cinematic films are.

So this one is very scaled down: Just four actors in a couple of rooms.

I’m not sure, but I think Bergman is basically making fun of himself and his own tics (especially as the tortured artiste Fisher). But besides making fun of himself, it’s also a somewhat petulant attack on an unappreciative public.

I thought the final scene was pretty powerful, but overall it’s got problems.

This post is part of the 87 Bergman Things series.

BTXLVII 1968: Shame

Shame (Skammen). Ingmar Bergman. 1968. ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐.

Bergman goes political.

It’s an incredible film, but Bergman was dissatisfied himself:

In other words, we are talking about poorly constructed manuscript. The first half of the film is really nothing more than an endlessly drawn-out prologue that ought to have been over and done within ten minutes. What happens later could have been built upon, fleshed out, and developed as much as was needed. I didn’t ever see that.

I think I know what he’s getting at, but the film is unbearable to watch as it is, so I’m really happy that the first half of the film is there. Many of Bergman’s films are “difficult”, but there’s usually an artifice to them that gives distance. This one is so unvarnished that I had to take some pauses to give myself some breathing room.

Ullmann and Von Sydow are brilliant, of course, but let’s give a shout-out to Gunnar Björnstrand, who is totes amazeballs as the incredibly (and realistically) scary major.

To nitpick this DVD: Bergman ends his films deliberately and suddenly (without any end titles). Having the MGM lion pop up at the end here is really disconcerting. Shame!

This post is part of the 87 Bergman Things series.

BTXLVI 2004: Hour of the Wolf: The Search for Sanity

Hour of the Wolf: The Search for Sanity. Greg Carson. 2004. ⭐⭐★★★★.

This is the first Bergman film that was sold to distributors in the US before it was filmed, and as such the rights for the DVD are somehow in American hands. But that means that there’s a documentary featurette in English, edited together in a very American way: Short edits and a dozen talking heads saying a sentence each.

Liv Ullmann has interesting things to say about Hour of the Wolf, but as these documentary featurettes go… it’s a documentary featurette.

This post is part of the 87 Bergman Things series.

BTXLV 1968: Hour of the Wolf

Hour of the Wolf (Vargtimmen). Ingmar Bergman. 1968. ⭐⭐⭐⭐★★.

After the Tour de France of Persona, Hour of the Wolf is a bit of a let-down. The scenes seem to carry no weight. Instead of the shots being filled to the brim with (possible) meaning, they’re kinda just… there… here.

But it’s a hard act to follow up.

If you just wipe your mind of all expectations, it’s not that bad.

Max von Sydow is great as usual, and so is Liv Ullmann. As a Norwegian, though, it’s a bit weird listening to her lines, since she’s basically speaking Norwegian (a very Oslo intonation and delivery) but substituting Swedish words whenever the Norwegian equivalent is too far away from Swedish. It’s a construct called “Svorsk”, and it’s disturbing. Even if I try my best not to mind, because it’s immaterial and petty.

If you don’t understand these languages, then I think it’s probably easier to get into the performance.

This post is part of the 87 Bergman Things series.

BTXLIV 1967: Stimulantia

Stimulantia (“Daniel” section). Ingmar Bergman. 1967. ⭐⭐★★★★.

The mid-60s wasn’t Bergman’s busiest period, film-wise. All These Women in 64, Persona in 66, and Hour of the Wolf in 68. Well, OK, for anybody else, that’s a quite impressive schedule, but Bergman had basically done about two films per year until now, so…

Anyway! This is an anthology film: Nine different directors doing their own short film: Some documentary and some not. Bergman contributes some home 16mm footage of his son Daniel. (And then Bergman reads a bit from his screenplay for Hour of the Wolf.)

It’s Bergman’s most sentimental piece EVER… but is it any good? Eh.

The non-Bergman parts are very 60s kinda experimental stuff. Which I like.

(The rating is for the Bergman bit only. The rest is way more starry.)

This post is part of the 87 Bergman Things series.

BTXLII 1964: All These Women

All These Women (För inte tala om alla dessa kvinnor). Ingmar Bergman. 1964. ⭐⭐⭐★★★.

This is Bergman’s directorial colour film debut. Weirdly enough, it’s his second colour film script, and both of them are co-written with Erland Josephson. It’s like they got together to write scripts for colour adaptation…

This is also Bergman’s final comedy. But Sven Nykvist is behind the camera, so it looks nothing like his previous comedies. It’s an uneasy marriage of Bergman/Nykvist’s 60s aesthetic (influenced by Godard?) with an attempt at a 50s farce.

Bergman wouldn’t do another colour film until the 70s.

It was apparently universally critically panned at the time, and was a flop at the box office.

Its hard to dislike a film that has Eva Dahlbeck, Harriet Andersson and Bibi Andersson in the main roles. Is this the final Bergman film with Eva Dahlbeck and Harriet Andersson?

But it’s not a good film. Somehow it reminds me of British satires from later in the 60s like The Bed Sitting Room… That is, it’s pretty dire. OH SUCH SATIRE.

Still… There are fun scenes. Mostly when Jarl Kulle isn’t on screen.

This post is part of the 87 Bergman Things series.