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1. The Seventh Seal - Criterion Collection
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2. The Magic Flute - Criterion Collection
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3. Scenes From a Marriage - Criterion
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4. Wild Strawberries - Criterion
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5. Persona
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6. Cries & Whispers - Criterion
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7. The Ingmar Bergman Special Edition
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8. Smiles Of A Summer Night - Criterion
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9. Fanny and Alexander (The Theatrical
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10. Hour of the Wolf (Vargtimmen)
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11. The Serpent's Egg
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12. Autumn Sonata - Criterion Collection
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13. The Passion of Anna
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14. Shame (Special Edition)
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15. Hour of the Wolf (Vargtimmen)
16. The Virgin Spring

1. The Seventh Seal - Criterion Collection
Director: Ingmar Bergman
list price: $39.95
our price: $31.96
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 6305174083
Catlog: DVD
Sales Rank: 2655
Average Customer Review: 4.53 out of 5 stars
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Description

After a decade of battling in the Crusades, a knight challenges Death to a fateful game of chess. More than forty years after its initial release, Ingmar Bergman's stunning allegory of man's apocalyptic search for meaning remains a textbook on the art of filmmaking and an essential building block in any collection. Criterion is proud to present The Seventh Seal in a pristine new transfer. ... Read more

Reviews (109)

5-0 out of 5 stars Death and a masterpiece
After ten years in the crusades, Antonius Block (Max von Sydow) returns to his homeland with his squire (Gunner Bjornstrand) to find it is blackened with plague. Upon his return he is faced with a meeting with Death and the realization of his ultimate fate. The clever knight prolonges his destiny by challenging Death to a game of chess. Through the film Antonius strives to find the meaning of life and the existence of God. The story is joined by several other intriguing characters played by many of the familier Bergman Actors and Actresses.
Truely a masterpiece by Swedish director Ingmar Bergman. This film displays the true soul of man and his ignorance and acceptance of his existance. I was particularly marveled by the contrast between the beliefs of the knight and the squire. Whenever Antonius' search for faith became too ambitous, his squire always levels him with reality. Through the charcters of the film, Bergman shows us the living fabric of man's contradicting natures and ambiguous answers to life. As an avid film viewer I strongly recommend this film to serious movie spectators. This DVD is truely a treat as all the films in the Criterion Collection. The transfers are considerably noteworthy. If you have already seen this film and found that it was enjoyable, check out other Bergman films or look into some of the other Criterion titles.

4-0 out of 5 stars A Compelling, if Somewhat Dated, Classic of Existentialism
I recently watched the Criterion edition release of this film, The Seventh Seal, with some friends. Although the film's techniques -- innovative and startling in 1957 -- are somewhat cliche today, the film still packs a powerful message, which is that although we cannot know if God exists, it is still possible for us to perform meaningful acts in the time allotted to us.

The story focuses on the story of a Swedish knight, Antonius Block, returning to Sweden from the Crusades -- played by the ageless Max von Sydow. The knight and his squire, Jons, are on the way home through a land ravaged by the Black Plague. On a lonely beach, the knight encounters Death, played with admirable restraint, and a good dose of dry humor, by Bengt Ekerot. Before Death claims Block's life, the knight challenges him to a game of chess -- if Block wins, he goes free; otherwise, when the game is over, Death will come for him. In that Death is busy, the game is renewed throughout the movie.

The movie also focuses on a troupe of actors who are traveling along the same road as the knight. Block knows that Death plans to come for the young actor and his family, and by prolonging his game with Death and thereby distracting him, he enables the young family to escape.

The movie, although obviously shot with a very small production budget and featuring a very minimalist approach (it could well be a stage play), is haunting -- one thinks about the movie's simple lessons for days afterward.

The film has often been parodied -- by Woody Allen in Love and Death, or in the recent "Bill and Ted's Bogus Journey" where Death is forced to play games such as Twister and Battleship with the film's heroes -- but it is still well worth watching.

The Criterion edition features both a Swedish and English-dubbed soundtrack, as well as a commentary track from a noted film critic.

5-0 out of 5 stars An amazing and thought provoking movie.
This film is absolutely amazing. It is one of the few movies I watch more than once or twice.
It is an achievment in style. The film manages to look amazing by virtue of Bergman's skill with lighting and cinematography alone. Especially compared to the big budget, color Hollywood titles of the time (such as The Ten Commandments) which look plastic despite their "special effects" and use of color (this film is black & white).
The subject of the movie is man's search for the meaning of life and the question of whether or not God exists. The film is both thought-provoking and blunt in its presentation of this subject and the answers which Bergman provides are suprisingly blunt.
The DVD quality is great, as it always is with Criterion Collection DVDs, and Peter Cowie's commentary is particularly good.

However, I will admit that this film is not for everyone. It also seems to require (for me anyway) one to be in a certain "mood" to view it. If you want to simply be entertained then this is not a film for you, but if you want to view a skillfully directed and wonderfully thought-provoking (if a bit dated) film then go for it.

5-0 out of 5 stars The silence of God!
Ingmar Berman(1918) established a challenging premise a chess mate between a knight from the Crusaders and the Death (Bengt Ekrot). If he wins, he'll live ; otherwise the Death will claim him . And this original duel happens after Sydow has left behind the misery, the plague and an unending war. He's deeply dissapointed with God and certainly he concludes that it doesn't exist.
This game will let exchange , scrutinize several ideas concerned with the faith , the silence of God and its own existence. God is a comfortable idea for the mankind ; it keeps them warmth , besides the man can dream with the hope of a celestial Paradise after this journey through this awful and miserable world. The ending sequence with the Dance of the Death is one of the most captivating and fascinating images in all the cinema story.
Many people state this is the Masterpiece : and obviously to me it's one of the three major achievements ; Persona and Cries and Whispers would be the rest .
But I've watched almost forty films of this brilliant swedish film maker and in his particular case ; a minor film from Bergman is above the average . So my advise is try to find out and watch all you can from this outstanding director.
This film won the Special Jury Prize 1957.
A timeless cult movie.

5-0 out of 5 stars Absolutely Brilliant
A profound, affecting movie. Excellent dialogue and performances. Stark black and white cinematography. One of Bergman's greatest films. In fact, one of the greatest films of all time. ... Read more


2. The Magic Flute - Criterion Collection
Director: Ingmar Bergman
list price: $29.95
our price: $23.96
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Asin: 0780023080
Catlog: DVD
Sales Rank: 4109
Average Customer Review: 4.15 out of 5 stars
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Description

Ingmar Bergman puts his indelible stamp on Mozart's exquisite opera in this sublime rendering of one of the composer's best-loved works: a celebration of love, forgiveness, and the brotherhood of man. The Magic Flute (Trollflöjten) stars Josef Köstlinger as Tamino, the young man determined to rescue a beautiful princess from the clutches of parental evil. Criterion's edition features the film's glorious soundtrack in the original stereo format. ... Read more

Reviews (39)

5-0 out of 5 stars a magnificent adaptation
As the film opens with the overture, it focuses on the face of a beautiful child in the audience, and it is as if we see this fantastic production through her innocent eyes; it's an adaptation that captures all the playfulness and enchantment of Mozart's glorious last opera, and brings it to life with renewed vigor.
The attractive cast, though occasionally vocally uneven, is a total delight; Josef Kostlinger is superb as Tamino, Hakan Hagegard shines as Papageno, Ulrik Cold impressive as Sarastro, and Elisabeth Erikson is adorable as Papagena.

The sets, which sometimes seem to shift like smoke, as well as the costumes, are masterful, and include everything from lovable fuzzy creatures, to a brilliant vision of the "dark regions", with dancers writhing and wrestling as its tortured inhabitants.
I also enjoyed the backstage views during intermission; Tamino and Pamina playing chess, Sarastro looking over a score of Parsifal while a chorus member reads Kalle Ankas (a Donald Duck comic book), and especially the formerly fire-spewing dragon trudging past a doorway.

I never fully appreciated "The Magic Flute" until I watched this film; it's strange that Ingmar Bergman, more known for his somber films, should bring out so much light and joy from this magnificent opera.
It would make a perfect introduction for young people to opera, and the singing in Swedish seems quite natural and enjoyable (especially for us older folks who have listened to the great Jussi Bjorling for decades), and the subtitles are excellent and easily to read.
Those who like filmed opera, will surely find this to be an imaginative, wonderful production. Total running time is 135 minutes.

5-0 out of 5 stars The Drama Of Mozart's Magic Flute
The Magic Flute, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart's last opera, is a multi-layered Singspiel opera that is accessible to children as well as adults. It is an allegory of good versus evil, layed with Freemason ideals, and scored by Mozart's most sublime music. Ingmar Bergman filmed a live performance in a Stockholm theater in Sweden. The singers are singing in Swedish, not its original German, and the camera provides glimpses of going ons backstage and shots of the audience, focusing especially on a red-haired girl who is deeply engaged in the opera. This way, Bergman makes opera a dramatic experience. At times, it feels as if we are not watching an opera at all, but a play. The Swedish cast is fresh, energetic and engages the audience in the fabulous story. The story should be familiar to opera buffs. Tamino, a lost prince, finds he has been commissioned to save a beautiful princess, Pamina, from the clutches of a supposed evil wizard, Sarastro, and return her to her mother the Queen of the Night. As the opera progresses, we discover that Tamino has been deceived and he is, in essence, "shown the light" of truth through the aid of the enlightened religious order of Sarastro's men. The Queen, Pamina's mother, is the villain, bent on dominating the earth, and Sarastro, Pamina's father, is a benevolent holy man who intendes to foil the dark queen's plans. The custody battle over Pamina is true to the Mozart allegory. He had Pamina represent Austria, Sarastro, the "father", was the wise ideals of Freemasonry, while the "mother" Queen of the Night is the suppression and censorship of Freemasonry by imperialist autocrats like the Empress Teresa, whom the Queen is modeled after.

Superb singing. The arias "Dies Bildnis", in which Tamino looks at a portrait of Pamina and falls in love, is well made. Papageno's character is sharply defined as comic, earthy and human. In this film, he wears no feathery costume or plumage, and is instead an actual human man with earthy appetites for food and lovemaking. The Queen of the Night's two arias "O Zittre Nicht" and "Der Holle Rache" are full of dramatic prowess and coloratura technique, both escalate to high F's. Pamina's "Ach Ich fuhls" which she sings in a backdrop of utter darkness, is melancholic and moving. Finally, Sarastro's character is divine, with a sonorous bass-baritone voice, and a final scene almost likens him to Jesus or God. As a bonus, this film presents us a view of the going-ons backstage during intermission. Tamino and Pamina play chess, the Queen of the Night puffs away on her cigar and Sarastro reads the manuscript to Wagner's opera Parsifal, all the while the interlude "March Of The Priests" plays in the background. This is superb performance, quality drama and on DVD, this is a must have for all opera fans who put opera DVDs on their collection.

4-0 out of 5 stars a major classic
This review is for the Criterion Collection DVD edition of the film.

This film which can best described as an operetta, is based on the opera of the same name by Mozart. The only difference is that the libretto is in Swedish. The origianl Swedish title of the film is Trollflöjten. The movie is well known and has remained popular to this day.

Disappointingly, the Criterion DVD has no special features on it.

5-0 out of 5 stars Sublime
No other director is the history of the medium had the balls to something like that.And no other director in the history of medium broke all the rules,so often,like Ingmar Bergman.In a time of his life that he did everything that someone could do with film ,(The Seventh seal,Wild Strawberries,Persona etc etc)this very pleasent work was born.The rest is history...

1-0 out of 5 stars Worst Magic Flute Ever
I have watched several live Magic Flute productions and a few other video productions. And this is THE WORST EVER. First, I would like to mention that I love imaginative interpretation. But this one tries to be different and look avant-garde, but yet lacks imagination and artistic quality.
Musical performance. Very bad. Pick up any Magic Flute CD randomly. It cannot be worse than this. Technical sound quality. It sounds very archaic. So bad. It is worse than the good quality LP mono recording that I have. Besides, why should I
watch Magic Flute in Sweedish ? If it's not original German, I would rather choose English. And I am sure that if there is an another Magic Flute produced in China and sung in Chinese, that DVD will get billions of 5 star rating. This Amazon rating system is simply ridiculous.
In the beginning of the opera, while Overture is being performed, it shows the face of a girl in audience for a long time. What is this ? Why should I watch this girl's face so long time ? Why ? If her expression, harmony with back ground, different angle, etc.. create artistic quality, I would understand. But it's not like that. ... Read more


3. Scenes From a Marriage - Criterion Collection
Director: Ingmar Bergman
list price: $49.95
our price: $44.96
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Asin: B00019JR6I
Catlog: DVD
Sales Rank: 8673
Average Customer Review: 4.64 out of 5 stars
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Description

Marianne (Liv Ullman) and Johan (Erland Josephson) always seemed like the perfect couple. But when Johan suddenly leaves Marianne for another woman, they are forced to confront the disintegration of their marriage. Shot in intense, intimate close-ups by master cinematographer Sven Nykvist, the film chronicles ten years of turmoil and love that bind the couple despite their divorce and subsequent marriages. Flawless acting and dialogue portray the brutal pain and uplifting peace that accompany a lifetime of loving. Originally conceived as a six-part miniseries for Swedish television, The Criterion Collection is proud to presentnot only the U.S. theatrical version, but also, for the first time on video in the U.S., Ingmar Bergman’s original five-hour television version of Scenes From a Marriage. ... Read more

Reviews (14)

4-0 out of 5 stars Challenging, truthful, utterly rewarding look at marriage
Ingmar Bergman's 1974 chamber-drama masterpiece was originally made as a six part mini-series for Swedish television--hence the divided tableau and emphasis on close-ups. Of course Bergman is the greatest purveyor of the close-up, and here he uses it to accentuate the psychological torment and strain that a marriage propagates on its victims (after this movie you'll view marriage as a war, if you already don't). Josephson and Ulmann shine as the dissenting couple, who first put up facades to deny the inevitable, eventually divorce, dive to relationship hell, and ultimately find a happy medium with a burgeoning love that could have never flourished if they stayed married. Interestingly, Bergman chooses to never show the couple's children (that would simply add another tumult to an already tumultuous puzzle). And, if it needs to be said, Sven Nykvist's photography is strikingly beautiful. "Scenes from a Marriage" suffers slightly from too much dialogue and being a bit lengthy--the poignancy is nullified after 170 minutes of relationship vicissitudes--but deserves to be cherished by any fan of "good" cinema or of Ingmar Bergman.

5-0 out of 5 stars Love & Marriage
Ingmar Bergman to me is one of cinema's most powerful directors. And, "Scenes From A Marriage" is the most powerful, and haunting film I've ever seen about love and marriage.
There's just something about Bergman's vision as a director and the camera of Sven Nykvist that brings this film to life. Bergman just throws these characters right into our faces, and we are truly mesmerize by them and their actions.
For those who have never seen this film, it is basically just as it's title may suggest, a look into the life of one couple's marriage. Marianne (Liv Ullman) and Johan (Erland Josephson) are our couple in question. They have been married for a while now, and seem to have a good solid marriage. One wouldn't think anything was wrong, especially when compared to their friends like Katarina (Bibi Andersson) and Peter (Jan Malmsjo) a couple whom act like their about to kill each other at any given moment. The scene is involving them, is one of many sterling moments in this masterpiece.
If I were to go on and talk about more scenes in this film, I would clearly be ruining the entire experience for you. Just rent this movie or even better buy this movie and be prepared to see the power that cinema can convey.
"Scenes From A Marriage" is one of Bergman's best films. And, while yes, there is talk of a sequel, I can only hope, that it all remains a rumor. To make a sequel out of this masterpiece would surely be a mistake. Here's a film that is perfect as it is. Just leave it alone and don't add anything to it. Though, Bergman did make a sequel out of the Katarina and Peter characters and made "From the Life of the Marionettes", which does have it's powerful moments, but doesn't quite build up to what this film has become.
For those who have never seen a Bergman film, I'd suggest watching "Wild Strawberries" first, then "The Seventh Seal", "Cries & Whispers" and then build yourself up to this one.
Bottom-line: Truly one of Bergman's most powerful films. The single greatest film I've seen as of yet on the subject of marriage. This movie hits an intensity few have have ever achieved!

5-0 out of 5 stars 13 now 41
How I was allowed to watch this series on ?PBS? when it first came out...I'll never know. But at around 13 y/o its haunting images of a marriage "gone bad" has stayed with me for nearly 2 decades. I literally fell in love with Liv Ullman and her acting (which at the time I was not far from believing that I was watching a documentary of a real couple falling apart at the seams) It was an intense and captivating series that had me literally "willing" the week to go by faster so I could watch the next installment. Through the years I had always searched for a way to watch it again and now (BIG difference in the "disposable income" of a child vs. an adult :), I will be purchasing this as part of my collection of memories from my youth. Thanks to Criterion for taking the time in putting this together for us.

5-0 out of 5 stars Beautiful Brutality (A TRUE depiction of Marriage)
This film is incredible. It is, however, a brutal one to watch (the intense arguments are too intense to watch at times, there is so much PAIN in this film). Its basic plot, as ridiculous as this sounds, is "husband and wife argue, then make up, then argue, then make up, then argue, then make up, and so on and so forth" or "husband and wife love eachother, then hate eachother, then love eachother, then hate eachother, then love eachother, etc." Yet in this back and forth plot, progress is made all the time. A couple who seemed SO perfect in the film's famous and brilliantly forboding opening interview sequence, begin to realize that they cannot go through life being a perfect married couple and still love eachother in the process. The incredibly well rounded characters we know at the beginning of the film, Johan and Marianne, are NOT the same characters we know at the end. The incredibly cocky and self-assured ("it would be too much to say that im bright, handsome, and sexy") Johan becomes the incredibly weak and humble Johan as the the film progresses, while the woman Marianne, who believed that she was put on this earth to be a good wife and mother, nothing more, becomes the confident Marianne, who realizes it is not at all a sin to have your own personality. In essence, the film chronicles the immense change of two people as they become farther from eachother.

Basically, the point of the film, in my view anyway, is to show that Marianne and Johan love eachother SO MUCH that marriage only restricts this love. They get along BEAUTIFULLY (they really do, unlike while they were married, when they just SAID that they get along tremendously) in the last Scene, when they are finally divorced and remarried to different people. Bergman's point surely was to show that marriage can be a bad idea. Two people who love eachother a great deal just do not work well together when married. Love becomes second to the other obligations that come with marriage. Too much time is spent discussing finance, the children, work, and looking like the happy married couple than time spent actually loving one another. Indeed Bergman laugably blamed the film for an increase in divorce rates. It seems wrong, but he may well be right. Marriage is bad for love.

There were some things I enjoyed a great deal about the film. Firstly, the dialogue. It was brilliant, as one would expect from Bergman. Witty, clever, and powerful words (the film is based around conversations) prevail. Secondly, much has been said of Sven Nykvist's camera work, and I must agree it is wonderful. His camera captures so much emotion from the actors, he often keeps his camera fixed on Liv Ullman's face as she, for example, hears of her husband's infidelity. reaction is more important in Scenes from a Marriage than action is. Thirdly, the ACTING was nothing short of astonishing. Bergman regular Liv Ullman's performance is the performance of a lifetime. There is a scene where she is in bed with her husband, who had just told her about his desire to leave her for another woman, Paula. As he says "I've always hated you, for several years, I've HATED you", Ullman's reaction is INTENSE. It's as if every word he says is like a knife that sticks in her side. It's a thing that comes on all too suddenly, a man who she thought loved her sits there saying it was a lie all along. She carries the performance beautifully. Erland Josephson is also VERY good in an obviously more difficult role. He plays a man who loses his self confidence, and he plays it well. Lastly, I loved Bergman's use of forshadowing. On your initial viewing, Johan's addmitance about Paula comes off as extremely shocking, however, if you go back, everything really forshadows the end of their marriage. We know something's up from the very beginning. There is this sense of tension and uncomfortableness, its as if, at times, they dont even love one another, they are just playing the parts of the perfect husband and wife.

This is my favorite Bergman film of those which I have seen thusfar (others are Persona, Wild Strawberries, The Seventh Seal, Cries and Whispers, Hour of the Wolf, Through a Glass Darkly, Winter Light, and the Silence.) It is a very realistic approach to the concept of marriage, and shows the fact that married life is not all as good as it seems.

This film will leave you breathless, if not lifeless. I recommend the SERIES rather than the film, there is even more intensity, and more characters and character developement. Arguments become intense. ONE WORD, and i am not joking, can strike your heart like a sword, just as it does to the characters in the film. It's always that one last thing someone said that they shouldn't have. It is INTENSE.

I cannot reccomend this DVD enough! BANG UP JOB CRITERION!!!!!!!!! I love the inclusion of Both the series and the film, particularly the series, and the extras, though small in numbers, are GREAT in quality. The three interviews included arre very informative, and i could ask for nothing more. The insert booklet is very nice and very attractive, as is the entire package. The entire package, down to the menus, was very nicely designed. the menus are animated and fit the mood of the film very well. The image, though it could not be helped (it was shot for television), is kind of bad, So.........

FILM: 10 STARS/ 10 STARS
DVD: 9 STARS/ 10 STARS

One of the greatest films of ALL TIME, certainly one of my favorites, and one of Criterion's best releases hands down. BRILLIANT FILIM!!!!!!

5-0 out of 5 stars Amazing! One of Bergman's greatest: way ahead of its time!
This Criterion edition is an absolute must-have for any fan of Ingmar Bergman's work. I have seen the 3-hour film version several times before, and felt it was superb, as most of Bergman's films are, but it faded for me in comparison with my favorites, "Persona", "Cries and Whispers", "The Silence", "Shame" and "Through a Glass Darkly". The 5-hour TV version, however, presented here for the first time in the US, is a revelation to me. It is startlingly contemporary. It is like seeing the film fresh, for the first time. I am struck by the naturalness of the acting of Bjornstrand and Ullman, giving astonishing performances, both in terms of nuance and intensity. At times, one forgets that they are acting, they so inhabit their gruelling roles. Liv Ullman is particularly great here, and photographed with luminous intensity by Nykvist, the master cinematographer. This is a woman who has her world shattered, and who responds to her changed circumstances in realistic stages: denial, anger, grief, rage, and finally acceptance. Also, I am struck by the way this particular film is the unacknowledged "grandfather" of independent contemporary film technique. A recent article in the New York Times on Dogme astonished me by the failure to even acknowledge Bergman's influence. Liv Ullman is spot-on in the interview when she notes that "Scenes from a Marriage" was Dogme filmaking 30 years ahead of Dogme, and that the often hand-held camera here moves with precision, versus the shallow, self-indulgent scattershot mess that is so tedious in the films of the Dogme filmmakers. In the five-hour TV version, one sees the film as it truly is, a groundbreaking, thoroughly engrossing masterpiece. Finally, it reminds us of how little we ask from our own TV movies in the US. This is a riveting, compelling, lacerating work, made with compassion and with a strong humanist understanding. Bergman didn't come to this spareness and austerity out some philisophical point of view, like Dogme has with its "manifesto". Instead, "Scenes from a Marriage" arrives at its technique out of Bergman's desire to get as close as he can with his camera to the faces, emotions, and flawed humanity of his characters. It was a process he began with "Persona" and which opens further in "The Passion", and which here is expanded out and relentlessly focused, like a pure, blue, Scandanavian flame. ... Read more


4. Wild Strawberries - Criterion Collection
Director: Ingmar Bergman
list price: $39.95
our price: $31.96
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: B00005UQ7T
Catlog: DVD
Sales Rank: 4135
Average Customer Review: 4.55 out of 5 stars
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Description

The film that catapulted Bergman to the forefront of world cinema is the director's richest, most humane movie. Traveling to receive an honorary degree, Professor Isak Borg (masterfully played by the veteran Swedish director Victor Sjöström), is forced to face his past, come to terms with his faults, and accept the inevitability of his approaching death. Through flashbacks and fantasies, dreams and nightmares, Wild Strawberries captures a startling voyage of self-discovery and renewed belief in mankind. ... Read more

Reviews (40)

5-0 out of 5 stars The three worlds of "Wild Strawberries"
When "Wild Strawberries" was released in 1957, Ingmar Bergman had been involved in more than a dozen films, everything from coming-of-age angst drama (the screenplay for "Torment" 1944) to sophisticated comedy ("Smiles of a Summer Night" 1955). With "Wild Strawberries" (and "The Seventh Seal" the same year) his name became well known outside art house circles. ("Now Bergman means Ingmar, not Ingrid," as one magazine put it.) His career even became the cover story for an issue of Time. One can only imagine American movie audiences going, out of curiosity, from the Deluxe color naughtiness of "Peyton Place" to Bergman's dark vision. Dark, yes; cold, no. In fact, this is one of Bergman's warmest films and, I think, one of the finest films ever made. The picture involves three worlds: The immediate world, the world of the past, and the world of dreams. As Professor Borg, a 78 year-old widower, makes a day trip from his home in Stockholm to the cathedral in Lund (where he is to receive an honorary degree) he deals with all three worlds: the present (his son's estranged wife who is traveling with him, the people they meet en route, the old professor's ancient mother), the past (painful memories of his youth), and the future (a series of persecution nightmares), all hauntingly photographed by Gunnar Fischer. (The 1985 film "DreamChild", about the old age of Alice Pleasance Liddell, has almost the same construction.) I suppose it's impossible not to compare "Wild Strawberries" with "A Christmas Carol". Like Scrooge, Professor Borg is visited by the "ghosts" of bitterness, unhappy memories, and nightmares -- and survives to find himself better adjusted to himself and other people. And Bergman obviously admires Dickens: whole scenes in "Fanny and Alexander" are lifted from "David Copperfield". But Bergman avoids egregious sentiment, unlike De Sica, whose geriatric study "Umberto D" comes dangerously close to schmaltz. (I keep thinking Lewis Stone and Lassie.) Neither the professor's frailties nor his revelations are trivialized -- especially important in the relationship with his son, whose life has been thwarted by the professor's coldness. In a flashback, the pregnant daughter-in-law tells the professor how her husband has told her in no uncetain terms that he condemns the idea of bringing a child into this absurd world. It's a revealing scene -- and, incidently, one of the most gracefully executed flashbacks you'll ever see. Another key scene occurs when the professor's car is sideswiped by another car occupied by a couple caught in a horrific misalliance, both the man and the woman greedily feeding off their hatred for each other. As the men work to get the couple's overturned car upright, the female stranger stands over them mocking "He strains his creaky limbs to show off in front of that pretty young girl!" However, it is the professor in the frame wih the woman, not her husband. Later, the professor confesses to his daughter-in-law that the couple reminded him of his own rotten marriage. Sunny? Hardly. Yet the sun shines even in Sweden and the conclusion of "Wild Strawberries" could be construed as a happy ending, though not pat and omniscient. Another plus is the excellent cast, including VIctor Sjöström (who had directed films in Hollywood during the silent era) as Professor Borg, Ingrid Thulin as his daughter-in-law, and Gunnar Björnstrand as his son. Max von Sydow can be seen briefly as a Texaco attendant, centuries away from the tormented knight of "The Seventh Seal". Bibi Andersson has a dual role, as a hip young hitchhiker in the "present" sequences and as the professor's lost love in the "past" sequences. To my knowledge, she and Sjöström are the only two actors to appear in all three worlds. These three worlds may seem forbidding to the uninitiated, but open up to them and you'll find they're filled with the intriguing artistry of a cinema master.

5-0 out of 5 stars a must for any film buff
this is a masterpiece and is required viewing for any of you wannabe directors out there. it's a beautiful mix of narrative, montage, a Surreal scene here and there, and some great acting. the female lead, Bibi Andersson i think, is a particularly striking woman. she plays the daughter of an aging professsor who is going on a trip to receive and honorary award from a university (you've probably already heard that Woody Allen based much of 'Deconstructing Harry' on this movie and of course, Allen is a Bergman fan...). along the way, he relives memories of his life and begins to bond with his somewhat estranged daughter.

if you found this movie at Amazon then you're probably looking for something interesting, moving and stimulating. Wild Strawberries is all of that. a film everyone should see...

5-0 out of 5 stars When film was an art form
In this symbolic tale of an old man's journey from emotional isolation to a kind of personal renaissance, Ingmar Bergman explores in part his own past, and in doing so rewards us all with a tale of redemption and love.

Victor Sjostrom, then 80 years old, stars as Professor Isak Borg whose self-indulgent cynicism has left him isolated from others. Sjostrom, whose work goes back to the very beginning of the Swedish cinema in the silent film era, both as an actor and as a director, gives a brilliant and compelling performance. All the action of the film takes place in a single day with flashbacks and dream sequences to Borg's past as Borg wakes and goes on a journey to receive a "Jubilee Doctor" degree from the University of Lund. Bergman wrote that the idea for the film came upon him when he asked the question, "What if I could suddenly walk into my childhood?" He then imagined a film "about suddenly opening a door, emerging in reality, then turning a corner and entering another period of one's existence, and all the time the past is going on, alive."

Bibi Andersson plays both the Sara from Borg's childhood, the cousin he was to marry, and the hitchhiker Sara who with her two companions befriends him with warmth and affection. The key scene is when the ancient Borg in dreamscape comes upon the Sara of his childhood out gathering wild strawberries. Borg looks on (unnoticed of course) as his brother, the young Sigfrid, ravishes her with a kiss which she returns passionately; and, as the wild strawberries fall from her bowl onto her apron, staining it red, Borg experiences the pain of infidelity and heartbreak once again. Note that in English we speak of losing one's "cherry"; here the strawberries symbolize emotionally much the same thing for Sara. Later on in the film as the redemption comes, the present day Sara calls out to Borg that it is he that she really loves, always and forever. Borg waves her away from the balcony, yet we are greatly moved by her love, and we know how touched he is.

The two young men accompanying Sara can be seen as reincarnations of the serious and careful Isak Borg and the more carefree and daring Sigfrid. It is as though his life has returned to him as a theater in which the characters resemble those of his past; yet we are not clear in realizing whether the resemblance properly belongs in the old man's mind or is a synchronicity of time returned.

Memorable is Ingrid Thulin who plays Mariana, the wife of Borg's son who accompanies him on the auto trip to Lund. She begins with frank bitterness toward the old man but ends with love for him; and again we are emotionally moved at the transformation. What Bergman does so very well in this film is to make us experience forgiveness and the transformation of the human spirit from the negative emotions of jealousy and a cold indifference that is close to hate, to the redemption that comes with love and a renewal of the human spirit. In quiet agreement with this, but with the edge of realism fully intact, is the scene near the end when Borg asks his long time housekeeper and cook if they might not call one another by their first names. She responses that even at her age, a woman has her reputation to consider. Such a gentle comeuppance meshes well with, and serves as a foil for, all that has gone on before on this magical day in an old man's life.

See this for Bergman who was just then realizing his genius (The Seventh Seal was produced immediately before this film) and for Sjostrom who had the rare opportunity to return to film as an actor in a leading role many decades past him prime, and made the most of it with a flawless performance, his last major performance as he was to die three years later.

5-0 out of 5 stars A big part of cinema history
This is something one who likes Bergman's films --or great films in general-- mustn't leave unwatched. Wild Strawberries cannot be mistaken for anything else than a product of Ingmar Bergman, but isn't a run-of-the-mill Bergman movie. It's a gentle but deep film with unusually few "horror" scenes; psychologically it can be horrifying, but it never turns uninteresting or unconvincing. Victor Sjöström was 79 years old during the filming of Wild Strawberries (early July through late August 1957), and does a great and very convincing job as 73 year old Isak Borg - a pedantic old professor who, on a car-ride --on his way to the University of Lund to receive his jubilee degree-- stops at his childhood home, among other places, and flashed back at his youth. Gunnar Fischer's black and white cinematography is definitely part of what makes this journey mesmerizing. The movie has won 11 awards.
Film historian Peter Cowie's commentary gives very interesting information, and an insightful and professionally presented analysis of the film. The disc also features a 90 minute documentary by Jörn Donner, which mostly consists of a 1998 interview with Bergman - this gives the disc more than 270 minutes of entertainment.
Criterion presents the film with surprisingly well restored sound and picture, and anyone can watch it - this edition is region free!

5-0 out of 5 stars The film that catapulted Bergman to fame
>Wild Strawberries was the film that thrust Swedish director Ingmar Bergman into the spotlight. Filmed in 1957, the movie follows an elderly college professor on a car trip to receive an honorary degree. That is the metaphor for a trip through his own subconscious, a looking-back at his whole life through bright and lyrical flashbacks. Many of Bergman's films that followed this one were, IMO, a little abstruse, but Wild Strawberries isn't a difficult film at all. It's rich, deep, evocative, and most of all, humane.
Worth re-watching. ... Read more


5. Persona
Director: Ingmar Bergman
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Ingmar Bergman's 1966 film, photographed by Sven Nykvist, begins when famous actress Elisabeth Vogler (Liv Ullmann) freezes on stage in the middle of a performance. Struck dumb by an unknown cause, she winds up in the care of young inexperienced nurse Alma (Bibi Andersson), and together they retreat to the seaside for the summer, where they enter into an uncommon intimacy and clash of wills. Bergman's study of the fragility of the human being and the treachery of life is incredibly moving in its perception and unrivaled imagery. And as always with Bergman and his reappearing ensemble of actors, the performances are flawless. Especially notable is the scene in which Alma recounts for the silent Elisabeth a morally and emotionally ambivalent erotic encounter she had experienced on a beach with a friend and two teenage boys. It is one of the most strangely erotic scenes ever filmed, and not a stitch of clothing is removed. Also of interest, and one of the most intriguing scenes in the film, perhaps among the most intriguing in all of cinema, is when Elisabeth paces barefooted back and forth over a patio on which we know there to be broken glass. It is an achievement in simple suspense from which many an aspiring director of thrillers could learn a bit. For those who've had their fill of predictable plots, irrelevant matter, and apish acting and are looking for something a little more sensual, poetic, and relevant to what life is about beyond the daily grind, this may be a good place to start. --James McGrath ... Read more

Reviews (55)

5-0 out of 5 stars Broken Mirrors
"Persona" is by far one of the most complex films ever fabricated in cinema. Like all Ingmar Bergman films, "Persona" challenges the viewer's thoughts of reason and reality. Made in 1967, this still remains to this day, the most haunting and confusing film on self-identity and the duality we have as human beings. Some might find the overlay of the movie too cynical maybe, but only because Bergman so purposely shows us our contradictory natures. Both character leads played by Bergman regulars Liv Ullman and Bibi Anderson give stunning performances, as usual. It's really amazing how well both women played such difficult roles, Ullman's character doesn't speak one line throughout the film and Anderson so captures all the different moods with an almost too realistic touch. Recommended to only serious movie-goers, Bergman fans, art house, foreign film fans, and those who can handle disturbing commentaries on self reflection.

5-0 out of 5 stars One of the All-Time Greats
"Persona" is not only Bergman's masterpiece; it is consistently ranked as one of the greatest films ever made. It is admittedly difficult, but never pointlessly so. The underlying spirit feels much the same as the High Modernist literature of the 1920s: a brilliant fusion of emotion and intellect resulting in a startling new form of expression. Indeed, the opening sequence of the film -- "a heap of broken images" -- brings "The Waste Land" to mind, and Bergman himself remarked, "I had it in my head to make a poem, not in words but in images."

Despite the unconventional style, one never has the feeling of novelty for the sake of mere effect. The formal innovations follow from the content. Much of the film, in fact, is shot in a fairly traditional way, though with Bergman's usual painstaking subtlety. The detailing is even finer than one might expect, with every sound, almost every word, orchestrated with great care.

"Persona" is a deeply compelling film, but it is probably not an ideal starting point for a newcomer to Bergman's work. "Wild Strawberries" is more straightforward and warmer; a great character study that retains elements of fantasy.

A final note: Avoid the grungy transfer on Hen's Tooth Video. The MGM version is far cleaner and is worth the extra money.

5-0 out of 5 stars Liv Ullmann and Bibi Andersson are AWESOME!!!
I've never quite been into foreign films, but I decided to check out 'Persona' because it has been associated with one of my favorite films, Robert Altman's '3 Women.' I was frequently told by other film buffs, "If you like '3 Women,' you'll really like 'Persona.'"

They were right, for I was completely blown away by this Bergman masterpiece. 'Persona' is a powerhouse of emotions, and the acting is superb. Liv Ullmann's silence is extremely compelling, for her nonverbal communication conveys a whole lot more than any dialogue could relate! Bibi Andersson's performance is heart-wrenching at times, for her persistance and confusion draws the viewer into her corner like a spider caught in a web.

As far as Ingmar Bergman, I am now a dedicated fan of his films after viewing 'Persona.' There were a few bits during the opening montage that made me wince (beware!), but after seeing the entire film, I can understand why they were there. In addition, the visual look of some of the key scenes are among the most breathtaking I have ever seen in a film, such as the one where Liv almost floats into Bibi's room like a Nordic goddess.

Highly recommended for anyone with an interest in Ingmar Bergman, arthouse cinema or films about the psychology of relationships.

5-0 out of 5 stars The Greatest Film of the 20th Century
This is Ingmar Bergman's greatest achievement as a film director (most of us have not seen his stupendous stage productions and only a few of his "made-for-TV" films).

It is, quite simply, the greatest film of the 20th century by its greatest film director. All films should be judged against it---and found worthy or wanting.

5-0 out of 5 stars one of the best ever made
This is one of the best rated films of all time...and it's definetely justified. It might very well be Bergmans materpiece, and THAT says a lot. The story behind one of the greatest achievments in cinema history was (is); Liv Ullmann, Bibi Anderson, Sven Nykvisk and Ingmar Bergam....That's the whole movie !!! Only 4 people,but it doesn't get much better than this. It's perfect - ... Read more


6. Cries & Whispers - Criterion Collection
Director: Ingmar Bergman
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Legendary director Ingmar Bergman creates a testament to the strength of the soul-and a film of absolute power. Karin and Maria come to the aid of their dying sister, Agnes, but jealousy, manipulation, and selfishness come before empathy. Agnes, tortured by cancer, transcends the pettiness of her sisters' concerns to remember moments of being-moments that Bergman, with the help of Academy Award®-winning cinematographer Sven Nykvist, translates into pictures of staggering beauty and unfathomable horror. ... Read more

Reviews (40)

5-0 out of 5 stars Lies and sisters
Loved It! IS THIS THE FILM THAT TURNED ME ON TO FORIEGN FILMS. But it should not be classified as a FOREIGN film. Our worst fears about death, our selfish thoughts of how others pain as our pain is explored. Like a mirror, this film shows us our own ugly reflection.

It is the story of three sisters, and a servant girl. One sister is dying, as the other three women wait on her. The performances are out-standing, my favorite is Bergman-regular Liv Ullman. There are reflections of the past, a need for answers and redemption. It will ruin our day, but we'll be better because of this cinematic triumph. It is very important to experience this picture, (The dvd has an opinional ENGLISH-dubbed soundtrack)it might make you feel better about your life and family.

Sven Nykvist's Oscar-winning Cinematography is haunting, beautiful, and makes characters out of every color. RED is very dominant and even sticks with you long after the film is over. This is a masterpiece, a bit of truth and pain rolled up in a film.

3-0 out of 5 stars a shocking and haunting film
This review is for the Criterion Collection DVD edition of the film.

This film, with the original title, "Viskningar och rop", remains one of the most chilling art house dramas to come out of Sweden.

The story is about two women Karin and Maria who have moved in with their terminally ill sister, Agnes to help care for her.

While the disease Agnes is dying from is never mentioned by name, seems to be a form of cancer as many other terminal illnesses of the time were contagious and the sisters and the maid don't seem to be worry about being infected.

The film shows flashbacks of the sisters when they were all healthy and some others also. The film is definately not for children as there are many scenes that even some adults might not be able to watch. One of these scenes is sexual in nature and involves self-mutilation with a piece of broken glass.

There is also a disturbing death scene and several others related to terminal illnesses

The Criterion DVD has an interview with director Ingmar Bergman as a special feature and there is also an optional English language track.

5-0 out of 5 stars One of the top films of Ingmar Berman!
This film is bitter . And merciless . It challenges and disturbs you deeply . FIlmed in the purest mood of resources economy , the film tells about Agnes , a dying middle aged woman with the presence of Karin (Ingrid Thulin) and Maria (Liv Ullman).
The complex and increasingly tense relationship among the members of the family ; with the red color as an additional personae ; will make a story loaded with the anguish you may find in the existencial portrayal ( to name a few The stranger of Camus , House of dolls of Ibsen or Crime and punishment Dostovieski).
The loneliness , the dark shadows of the death , the inner reactions of each member of the family , the pain and the lack of affect who are clearly shown in the ending shot demands from you a special attention . Think it over , because this movie represents one of the milestones in all the cinema story.

4-0 out of 5 stars The Sounds That Haunt Us
"Cries and Whispers" was one of the first films from Ingmar Bergman I had seen. I was about 13 years old and was a strongly devoted fan. I had only seen the film that one time, but it stand with me. Only, I didn't think it was that powerful. Maybe my age had something to do with it. Could it be I was too young to appreciate it? I enjoyed the previous films I had seen at that point though such as "Wild Strawberries" and "The Seventh Seal".

Well, whatever the reason I saw this film again. Now I'm 21. And I think "Cries and Whispers" is one of Bergman's very best films. A memorable and powerful film. A sheer work of genius.

I read Roger Ebert's review for the movie. He said he had never seen a film to be so much about pain.

Maybe that is true. I hadn't thought of that the first time I saw this masterpiece, but now I understand.

Bergman paints such a bleak, depressing picture here, that you could call this film typical Bergman. Even though it my be a depressing film, you should still see this.

The story has three sisters, one is dying. She is played by Harriet Andersson, who gives what I feel is the film's best performance. The other sisters include Maria (Liv Ullman) who is almost childlike. She seems so innocent. Then there is Karin (Ingrid Thulin) who is cold-hearted. And even though she is not one of the sisters Anna (Kari Sylwan) who is a mother figure. She is the only one who truly cares for Agnes (Andersson).

Bergman than has these characters reflecting on moments from the past, and thus the "cries and whispers" those moments bring. Some are truly terrible memories these characters live with. A scene involving Karin and her husband comes to mind.

Are these people trying to learn from their mistakes? Do they regret their past choices? Is there hope for them? I can't give you the answers to these questions, it is for you to decide.

"Cries and Whispers" on second viewing is one of Bergman's best films. A work of art.

Bottom-line: One of Ingmar Bergman's best films. It was nominated for "Best Picture" in 1973 and Bergman was nominated for "Best Director" as well. A haunting film dealing with our life choices, who we really are and how these events shape us. It leaves a lasting impression on the viewer. I can't speak highly enough about this film.

5-0 out of 5 stars Viskningar och Rop
Agnes is dying of cancer at the end of what one imagines to be late 19th Century, and is taken care of by her sisters Karin (Ingrid Thulin) and Maria (Liv Ullman), and the maid Anna (Kari Sylwan). This is one of the purest and most horrifying films I believe Bergman has ever made. A shade of the color red dominates throughout the film, and brings an immediate and naturally convincing mood. All actors contribute with a powerful and chilling intensity, especially actress Harriet Andersson--whose pain as Agnes is very believable, even enchanting--and are more than well supported by the amazing camera work of Sven Nykvist. To prove that this is the work of a brilliant, highly skilled director, and professional actors and crew, the movie was shot on location in only six weeks!
The Criterion disc features a 52-minute interview with Ingmar Bergman and Erland Josephson (who appears briefly in the movie), taped for Swedish television in 2000. Interviewed by Malou von Sivers, Bergman and Josephson discuss life, death, and love. Bergman, here at age 82, proves to be a down-to-earth and young-at-heart guy. The sound in the interview (surprisingly enough for a Criterion disc), distorts a bit, and can be quite distracting at times, but is not so bothersome that one wouldn't want to continue listening to what these masters of film and cinema have to say (even if the topics barely touch upon their work and careers).
Optional subtitles, as well as an English-dubbed soundtrack are available. The dubbing is surprisingly accurate to the picture, and is done by the actors featured in the movie. At times this accuracy may convince you that the movie was made in English. Still (despite this stunning surprise), I would suggest watching this in Swedish, as intended - at least the first time around.
I watched this movie with a pair of good head-phones, in a comfortable chair, and alone in the dark at three o'clock in the morning. I recommend others to watch it under similar conditions - it adds to the intensity, and one can appreciate the intended mood of the film better if there aren't distractions. I seriously doubt that this picture will disappoint any true fan of good cinema. ... Read more


7. The Ingmar Bergman Special Edition DVD Collection (Persona / Shame / Hour of the Wolf / The Passion of Anna / The Serpent's Egg)
Director: Ingmar Bergman
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There is no denying this fact: Ingmar Bergman's films are true commitments.Though averaging only an hour and a half in length, the psychological depth, the magnitude of human exploration, and the emotional rollercoaster you embark on while watching his films can stick with you for a lifetime.According to Bergman, "No form of art goes beyond ordinary consciousness as film does, straight to our feelings, deep down into the dark rooms of our souls." By the mid-sixties, Bergman was about to show the world how far the medium film could go. He began to move away from his Seventh Seal style into the dreamlike, deconstructive, nonlinear realm that would continue throughout his career. This DVD set wonderfully captures all his landmark films of the late 1960s marking this significant transition. Each film stars Liv Ullmann, Bergman's beautiful muse, and involves another longtime collaborator, cinematographer Sven Nykvist.Each film has been remastered, and is presented in its unedited theatrical version loaded with pertinent extras, including a featurette on each film, interviews with cast members (every disc has an on-camera interview with Liv Ullmann), a feature-length commentary by Bergman biographer Marc Gervais on four of the films, and a wonderfully surprising commentary by David Carradine on The Serpent's Egg. Couple these films with an extra disc of supplemental material and you have yourself an incredible Ingmar Bergman film festival. --Rob Bracco

The Films:
In Persona (1966), Elisabeth Vogler (Live Ullmann) has stopped speaking and withdrawn from the world. At her doctor's orders, she moves to a remote cottage to be watched over by Nurse Alma (Bibi Andersson). To fill the silence, Nurse Alma talks aloud to her silent listener and slowly lays out her soul and identity to her patient. In essence, the nurse becomes the patient herself. If the extent of your Bergman exposure is The Seventh Seal, be prepared to get blown away by this film's hallucinatory, multilayered exploration in identity and personality.The hallucinatory analysis of personal identify continues with the haunting The Hour of the Wolf (Vargtimmen) (1968). Artist Johan Berg (Max von Sydow) is desperately trying hold on to his sanity, while being haunted by his demons.His wife (Ullmann) is trying to help, but also begins to share Johan's hallucinations. As they both begin a downward spiral Ullmann has to make a painful decision between the love of her husband or her own sanity. Shame (Skammen) (1968) stars von Sydow and Ullmann as a couple in the midst of a civil war. They escape to their farm for safety only to be haunted by the soldiers that invade their home. The Passion of Anna(En Passion) (1969) again stars von Sydow and Ullmann. Andreas and Anna live on a remote island with a neighboring couple. While trying to escape the skeletons of their pasts, they each seek solace in one another, even as their lives are torn apart by deception, isolation and psychological turmoil. The last film in the set is a leap forward to 1977. The Serpent's Egg (Das Schlangenei) may be the weakest of the set, but by no means is it a lesser film. It tells the tale of two Jewish trapeze artists trapped in Berlin during the Nazis regime. Bergman would only turn out three more feature films before disappearing into retirement. --Rob Bracco ... Read more


8. Smiles Of A Summer Night - Criterion Collection
Director: Ingmar Bergman
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Distinguished lawyer Frederik Egerman lives with Anne, his picturesque, young wife, his son Henrik, a forlorn student of the cloth, and Petra, the flirtatious yet sensible maid. One summer evening Frederik takes Anne to see a play starring his former lover Desirée, the veteran actress with an equally seasoned reputation. With her glamorous stage entrance and one inviting smile, she sparks the lives of the parties involved into a game of love and loyalty that barely masks each player's percolating insecurities. Through witty dialogue, theatrical direction, and an ensemble cast, director Ingmar Bergman delivers a raw exhibition of human desire. ... Read more


9. Fanny and Alexander (The Theatrical Version) - Criterion Collection
Director: Ingmar Bergman
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One of the more upbeat and accessible films by acclaimed Swedish director Ingmar Bergman. Written by Bergman, this autobiographical story follows the lives of two children during one tumultuous year. After the death of the children's beloved father, a local theater owner, their mother marries a strict clergyman. Their new life is cold and ascetic, especially when compared to the unfettered and impassioned life they knew with their father. Most of the story is seen through the eyes of the little boy and is often told in dreamlike sequences. Colorful, insightful, and optimistic, this is far less grim than most of Bergman's work. It was awarded four of the six Oscars for which it was nominated, including Best Foreign Language Film. Though this was announced as his last film, Bergman continued to work into the late 1990s, though mostly for Swedish television. --Rochelle O'Gorman ... Read more


10. Hour of the Wolf (Vargtimmen)
Director: Ingmar Bergman
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Average Customer Review: 3.93 out of 5 stars
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Reviews (14)

5-0 out of 5 stars One of his best
A famous painter, Johan (Max von Sydow), and his wife (Liv Ullmann) arrive on a small island where Johan plans to recollect his thoughts and find himself in his painting. He suffers from insomnia and bad nerves, and his nights are spent waiting in horror for the magical hour before dawn, the hour of the wolf, when a flood of memories, anxieties, and regrets transcend thoughts and appear as demonic apparitions which threaten to consume him. Johan's wife, Alma, must help him overcome his dangerous obsessions with his ghosts before the manifestations become too real, and its too late...

The Magician and Hour of the Wolf are my two favorite Bergman movies -- the reason being the flaws of these films only make them stronger by serving the point. In the Magician its an artist's fear of having his cheap trickery exposed for what it is, and his inability to make "pure" art. The fact that Bergman had to sell the film as an "erotic comedy" with a silly subplot doesn't make the film weaker: it just reinforces it with irony.

In the same way, the Hour of the Wolf was clearly made by a nervous and overworked artist: at this point the critics were out for blood with Bergman, ready to declare his career over and his movies indulgent exercises in his popular image. Bergman himself was having a rough time, with a theatre and a film career exhausting him and his marriage falling to pieces. But for Hour of the Wolf, any resignation, nervousness, or indulgence merely serves to strengthen the film's message. Hour of the Wolf is a desperate film, and because of that, I think its in this film that Bergman comes closest to his own artistic vision: That place where dreams, memories, and anxieties come together and become indistinguishible (something he would have a harder time conveying in films like Face to Face).

The film is beautifully made, with Sven Nykvist collaborating as usual. Bergman and his cohort were cutting close to perfect in craft around this period. The flood of images is overwhelming. Some favorite scenes: Johan struggling with a small boy while fishing, the dinner party (the pressure!), and of course, the famous "Magic Flute" scene, with the small puppet moving almost imperceptibly as a real man. And that prevalent Bergman talking point, Mozart, and the chorus' breathless chanting: "Pamin-na still lives." (lit. "Love still lives")

An emotional and personal film, one of his best.

5-0 out of 5 stars bergman's best, a terrifying masterpiece
"hour of the wolf" is,...far from a 'lesser' bergman film:it is his best.

johann (max von sydow), and his wife alma (liv ulmann), retreat to an island with one another and try to live a serene, peaceful life while johann works on his art. to say the least, it doesn't exactly pan out.

slowly but surely, johann's demons pursue him and whether they actually 'exist' or not is neither here nor there as far as the message of the movie goes. the most crucial scene is when the puppet show takes place in the demons' castle, and mozart's "magic flute" is done by the birdman, papageno. the darkness and meaninglessness of the human condition is reflected in the lines of mozart's character:"eternal night, eternal night, when whilst thou flee? when will mine eye the daylight see?" while these lines are recited by the birdman after the puppet show by papageno, a slow close up is gotten on his intensely evil face, and the lines are delivered with reverence and an inflection of utter doom and hopelessness. the answer is what johann already knows all too well--never. the artist's (and, by extension, man as a whole) attempts to know reality, to understand the purpose of his life and the meaning of existence, will come to naught, and he will be particularly unfortunate since, unlike the rest of the human race, he alone realizes the shadow of ephemerality and incomprehensibility cast all over life. the beginning and the end of the movie are more or less rational, in that there is nothing left but for johann to lose his mind. johann and alma, despite their intense love for one another, are just as cut off and unknown to one another as all human beings, and her attempts to save him are futile.

this film is a masterpiece, and masterfully utilizes the surreal and the imaginative to display bergman's unpleasant truth.

1-0 out of 5 stars MGM keep ruining movies!!
Why, MGM!? After CORRECTING the aspect ratio from 1.66:1, they've made the same mistake with "Hour of the Wolf" and "Shame" as they did with "Persona"; they've presented the movies in aspect ratio 1.33:1 instead of the original aspect ratio 1.37:1!! 11.5% of the image of "Persona" is missing, so naturally that is the case with these films as well. These are great movies that should not be messed with in this unprofessional manner. MGM have no respect for this art. Incidentally, "Persona" is available in its original aspect ratio on "Tartan" (region-free DVD) through amazon.co.uk. These movies were not intended to be watched this way, but if you are curious about these fine Bergman classics, don't own a VCR, and have a lot of money to spare, go ahead and support MGM's economy.

5-0 out of 5 stars Kudos to MGM for correcting OAR problem
MGM recalled the original issues of "Hour of the Wolf" and "Shame" because they were presented in a fake widescreen that cropped the top and bottom of the film. These are masterpieces that should not be missed, and they are now beautifully presented in their proper aspect ration of 1.33:1 with the entire image now intact.

5-0 out of 5 stars Bergman's only horror film and what a treat...
Johan Borg (Max von Sydow) seeks refuge with his wife Alma (Liv Ullman) on a remote island where Johan can get the solitude that he requires and where he can focus on his art. However, Johan is frequently interrupted by haunting demons both in the flesh and in the mind. These demons visit Johan in the hour of the wolf. This hour is when most babies are born and the most people die, it is also hour of the night when people wake up from their nightmares. Hour of the Wolf is a very unusual film for Ingmar Begrman as it is his only horror film and it begins with with Alma staring into the camera as she informs the audience that all the events pictured took place on the island and are all written down in her husbands diary. This beginning presents an atmosphere with an eerie hollowness full of questions and mysteries as to what information the diary holds. Bergman does this purposely as he crafts his story with canny imagination that haunts the audience visually as it is full of symbolism and suggestive themes. Nevertheless, it is the audience's imagination that creates the true horror in the story as Johan slowly steps toward his own doom. This leaves the audience with a significant cinematic experience of horror that will linger in the their minds as they will close their eyes before sleep. ... Read more


11. The Serpent's Egg
Director: Ingmar Bergman
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12. Autumn Sonata - Criterion Collection
Director: Ingmar Bergman
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Description

A stunning union of two of Sweden's national treasures, Autumn Sonata pairs Ingmar Bergman with Ingrid Bergman for their only joint effort. Ingrid plays a mother who, after forsaking her family for a music career, attempts a reconciliation with her oldest daughter (Liv Ullmann) through a night of painful revelation. Sven Nykvist contributes glorious Eastmancolor cinematography to this quietly beautiful story of forgiveness. Criterion is proud to present Autumn Sonata in a gorgeous digital transfer. ... Read more

Reviews (25)

5-0 out of 5 stars Dynamic, Memorable Film
Writer/director Ingmar Bergman examines the strained relationship between a mother and daughter in "Autumn Sonata," starring Ingrid Bergman and Liv Ullmann. Eva (Ullmann) has not seen her mother, Charlotte (Bergman) in seven years; a successful concert pianist, Charlotte has spent a good portion of her life on the road, but after losing her long-time companion, Leonardo, Eva invites her to come to the parsonage where she and her minister husband, Viktor (Halvar Bjork), live, for an extended visit. Charlotte accepts, but soon after her arrival, old wounds and feelings begin to surface, and the film becomes an intimate character study of the life-long dysfunctional relationship between Charlotte and Eva, during which director Bergman intricately examines the causes and effects of all that has passed between them during their lives. It's an in-depth look at the emotional damage human beings are capable of inflicting upon one another, and how fragile the line between love and hate becomes when subjected to incessant neglect by even one of the parties involved. As the story unfolds and the principals bare their souls-- at last revealing a lifetime's worth of repressed feelings-- it becomes an emotionally devastating experience for the audience, as well, for there is much contained within the dynamics of this situation that most viewers will be able to identify with and relate to within their own lives. Ingmar Bergman is a Master of presenting life as it truly is; reality-- and portraying it on the screen-- is his domain, and throughout his career he has veritably created almost a genre of his own in doing so. With a microscope of his own design, he scrutinizes the basic instincts of the human condition, what makes people tick and how and why they relate to one another as they do. Much of what he presents is startling, and always emotionally involving, because he penetrates so deeply and succinctly into the heart of the matter, as he demonstrates so superlatively with this film. His methods and style are unique, his talent unequivocal; many others have attempted to capture the essence of that which Bergman has perfected, but few have succeeded. Interestingly enough, Liv Ullmann is one who, as a director, has probably come the closest to achieving that classic "sense" of Bergman, with her films "Private Confessions," and "Faithless," both of which were written by Bergman. In her role as Eva, Ullmann gives one of the best performances of her career, for which she should have at least been nominated for an Oscar; that she was not is nothing less than a gross injustice. She so skillfully conveys the depth and complexities of her character, and the differing emotional levels to which Eva is subjected, that it creates a lasting impression and makes her someone with whom it is easy for the audience to sympathize. It makes you realize, upon reflection, what a truly gifted actress Ullmann is. And, as good as Ullmann's performance here is, it is equaled-- though not, I would say-- surpassed, by Ingrid Bergman's portrayal (in her final theatrical appearance) of Charlotte; and in a renewal of faith that there is some justice in the world after all, she received an Oscar nomination for Best Actress for it. In retrospect, it seems somehow inevitable that the two Bergmans came together at last, though it's somewhat lamentable that their career paths did not cross sooner. There is some consolation, however, in the fact that when they did finally join forces the result was such a powerful, memorable film. The supporting cast includes Lena Nyman (Helena), Gunnar Bjornstrand (Paul), Erland Josephson (Josef) and Linn Ullmann (Eva as a child). An intelligent, thought provoking and emotionally wrenching film, highlighted by outstanding performances and beautifully photographed by Sven Nykvist, "Autumn Sonata" is an example of filmmaking at it's best; it's a lasting tribute, not only to the immense talents of Ingmar Bergman and Liv Ullmann, but to Ingrid Bergman, one of the most beautiful and gifted actresses ever to grace the silver screen.

4-0 out of 5 stars Bergman directs Bergman
Before she was an international star of incomparable charisma and beauty, and even before Ingmar Bergman became a legendary director of films bleak and intense, Ingrid Bergman played in the Swedish cinema. So it is entirely apropos that someday Bergman might direct Bergman.

Ingrid plays Charlotte, a concert pianist who has, upon the recent death of her longtime lover, Leonardo, returned to her native land to visit her daughter Eva (Liv Ullmann), whom she hasn't seen for seven years, and her husband Viktor (Halvar Bjork), who is a minister. Ullmann is frumpish in specs with her hair up and her dress loose and ill-fitting. She is Ingrid's nerdish daughter who has been throughout her life entirely overshadowed by her glamorous mother. Eva has an unpleasant surprise for mom. Her other daughter, Helena (Lena Nyman), who suffers from a crippling disease, perhaps muscular dystrophy, is on hand. Eva didn't tell her mother that Helena was now living with them. She says she didn't tell her because she knew that, if she had, Charlotte would not have come. And so we can guess that there are issues that will come out, issues between mother and daughter that have been festering for decades.

I got goose bumps seeing Ingrid Bergman as an elderly woman, and seeing the smooth, graceful style again, the elegant presence, a hint of the old gestures, the sly glances, the tentative half smiles... It was really wonderful and at the same time disconcerting to examine her face (Sven Nykvist's intense close ups expose every inch of skin) and sigh and remember and understand the effect of the passing years. Ingrid is elegant but she has been robbed of her beauty so now we are able to see her character; unfortunately Ingmar's script allows little of the real Ingrid Bergman to appear. Hers is not a pleasant part to play. She is an entirely selfish and self-centered woman who has put her career before her family, but is unaware of what she has done. Eva seizes this opportunity to punish her mother by dredging up the neglect of her childhood to throw it in her mother's face (which perhaps explains why Charlotte hasn't been home in seven years). The sheer cold hatred that Eva expresses is enough to make the devil himself cringe. After a bit one begins to feel sorry for Charlotte, despite her failures as a mother, to have a daughter so unforgiving and so hateful.

Liv Ullmann is rather startling in this portrayal, with her penetrating eyes, her hard, Neandethalish forehead, the severe specs, and the uncompromising tone of her voice. Charlotte is ashamed and begs for forgiveness and tries to defend herself, but it is no use. Eva is too strong for her. This is one of the more intense scenes in cinema, and one not easily watched. Meanwhile in the upstairs bedroom and then in the hallway and down the staircase, Helena has heard them arguing and is pulling her crippled body over the floor, desperately trying to reach them. She cries out, "Mama! Mama!" but is not heard.

Viewers might want to pick sides between mother and daughter to say which is the more at fault. Indeed, it is hard to say who Bergman himself found more at fault. Perhaps there is no fault, only human weakness and stupidity. Such scenes are usually followed by a greater understanding, forgiveness and a willingness to start anew. However, although Charlotte wants that, it is not clear in Bergman's script that anything good will come of what has happened. Charlotte leaves, the minister returns to looking at his wife, (having overheard the argument, about which he has said nothing) and Eva writes a letter to her mother. It is not clear whether she wants to patch things up or to gain another opportunity to pick her mother to pieces. The viewer is left to decide.

Perhaps the best scene in the film is the one that follows dinner the night of Charlotte's arrival in which Eva plays the piano, a Chopin prelude. She has worked hard on it and hopes to please her mother. Alas, her play is not so good. After all, the mother is a genius, the daughter only the daughter of a genius. Charlotte sits down next to Eva and takes the keys to gently demonstrate how the piece should be played. We see and feel at once the inadequacy of the daughter in her mother's eyes. It is a great scene filmed with a tight focus on the faces of the two women. When Eva turns to stare at her mother, who is, of course, playing brilliantly with great finesse and touch, the expression on Eva's face, held for many long seconds, is unforgettable.

Not to second guess the master, but I would have liked to have seen the entire movie played in this, a more subtle key than that which followed. However when it comes to dysfunction and disease, Ingmar Bergman is unrestrained.

Ingrid Bergman was nominated for an academy award for best actress in this, her last feature film (she had already been diagnosed with cancer), but lost out to Jane Fonda in Coming Home (1978).

5-0 out of 5 stars Bergman at his best
This is probably one of the most underrated movies of all time.Maybe Bergman did stuff like this in the past,but that does not mean that isn't great.Ingrid Bergman gives so much ...You will never see her like that in any other movie.Maybe is the director...maybe she knew how special it was.

5-0 out of 5 stars my favorite Bergman (Ingrid or Ingmar ?)
Both. Ingrid Bergman (in an Oscar-nominated performance - her last feature role) returned to Swedish cinema after 4 decades to play a pianist coming home to an problematic reunion with her daughter (Liv Ullmann-great as always).Yet another reason why Sven Nykvist have so many admirers.

4-0 out of 5 stars an excellent but slow paced film.
This review is for the Criterion Collection DVD edition of the film.

In this film, the only movie that both Ingrid and Ingmar Bergman (no relation) were both involved in. In this film a woman visits her daughter at her home and attempts to reconcile with her.

This film is definately not one thatmost people would find interesting and is almost like a soap opera.

The DVD has a theatrical trailer and audio commentary by Peter Cowie. ... Read more


13. The Passion of Anna
Director: Ingmar Bergman
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Average Customer Review: 4.38 out of 5 stars
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Reviews (8)

5-0 out of 5 stars WONDERFUL! A GREAT INQUIRY ON THE HUMAN CONDITION!
People who aren't "turned off" & disgusted by the current state of the world (enviromentally, politically, culturally, sociologically, etc.) will immediately understand this film and appreciate its beauty! Upon the first time seeing it, I felt it was unfocused and confused. The second time, when it occured to me that these people were living in front of the backdrop of something emotionally emasculating (random slaughtering, War, whatever you want to supplement), I realized what a masterpiece this film is. That uneasy feeling that life is unraveling all around you, that human beings are destroying each other, even though you don't directly see it...Bergman captures that feeling beautifully.

The interviews in the film bothered me for a while, but then I started to view them (and commend Bergman's brillance) as Brechtian distancing effects, as if Bergman is saying: "yes, live vicariously through these people, but after all they're just characters representing something, but they are NOT these people, so what???". Fantastic!

If you don't already own this and you love Bergman, what's wrong with you???

5-0 out of 5 stars Eros and Thanatos
This is one of the very few films that I came out of the theater crawling *under* the carpet... And I still find it disturbing - and at the same time or perhaps exactly because enlightening. Many of Bergman's films of that time dealt with the inherent self-destructiveness of the "human condition"; but most of them also had a plot element that involved an external destructive force: war (The Seventh Seal, Shame), the proximity of death (Wild Strawberries) and so on. Even Hour of the Wolf, the one that comes closest to Passion, has the "wolves" - the coterie that seduces Max von Sidow's character into reliving, facing, and ultimately succumbing to, his inner demons (by the way, make sure that your version of Hour of the Wolf includes the posface, "look, this is a movie, and we just wrapped it up, it's not real, you see, these people are just characters in a movie played by 'normal' people - but the demons will stay with you, cause they're not really ours, they're your own").

Not so Passion. Here, there is no outward force pushing these people - these "normal", whatever their personal demons, people - towards inescapable destruction. There is the wanton, unresolved slaughter of animals; but this doesn't touch the characters, no more than the everyday "slaughter of the lambs" that surrounds much of our lives does us except to at most evoke a vague disquiet, let alone drive them. They're doomed; always were. Nothing can save them. Not love, or the forlorn illusion of, not a bourgeois life surrounded by creature comforts, not even outburts of personal violence. There is simply no redemption.

For the "passion" is not "a" passion, but *the* passion, the passion that drives us all, and indeed all life: the endless collision and collusion between Life and Death, that sets down the boundaries within which we, like Von Sydow's character at the film's closing, must forever pace back and forth.

4-0 out of 5 stars Genius at work...
I am amongst those Bergman fans who prefer his post-Persona work best. I find many of his late 40's-50's films too calculated & highly pretentious (especially films like The Silence & Winter Light). One of the best Bergman films of the 70's

5-0 out of 5 stars A movie full of 'Passion'.
After having seen Woody Allen's INTERIORS I was so impressed by the direction. I found out that Allen was paying homage to Bergman and at the time I was just finding out about all sorts of different movies, I was 14 at the time so this was so amazing to me and still is. Afterwards I sought out movies by Bergman but I was always a little afraid of being dissappointed (I had recorded THE SEVENTH SEAL on TV but I thought I ought to take baby steps in terms of getting to know Bergman so I did not see it). But finally I decided to start with THE PASSION OF ANNA and now every week I rent at least two Bergman movies from my library. The direction is genius! I love the way Bergman doesn't try to hype up events. He just lets everything unravel in a natural way. Whenever someone in this movie is saying something regarding their emotional state or past experiences, etc. Bergman lets their emotions shine through and he presents us with intimate close ups of their faces so that we can observe every bit of the emotions that the character is going through. Other directors prefer to use music and other methods which I am not condemning, I actually like some of the other methods that other directors use but I had never seen a movie in which the director let everything happen so naturally, as if it weren't even a movie but a documentery though the look of the movie is not realistic, it looks like a movie but it doesn't feel like one. Bergman gives us a stark and compelling movie about these 4 people who are going through the motions and how they affect each other's lives. Max von Sydow plays a widower who lives a very mechanical life until he gets in involved in the lives of three other people and they are played by Bibi Anderson, Erland Josephson and finally Liv Ullmann as Anna. von Sydow and Ullmann I thought were particularly great. It's hard for an actor to play a man who is emotionally hollow to a certain degree but von Sydow does it perfectly. Ullmann plays a woman who is still suffering after effects of the deaths of her husband and child and who ends up looking for solace in von Sydow's character. She shows great measure of desperation and sadness in her performance without being showy. And the cinematography is very beautiful if a bit depressing to those who hate gray skies. And the lack of music gives it a very strange feeling like I mentioned before. And Bergman uses an interesting method of showing short interviews with each of the four actors with them discussing their characters. I found this to be a bit daring because Bergman ran the risk of breaking the suspension of disbelief of the audience but personally I felt it just made me go deeper into their lives and selves. I can see why Woody Allen idolizes this guy.

5-0 out of 5 stars Apocalyptic Bergman.
'The Passion of Anna' sometimes feels like a compendium of Bergman films, such as 'The Seventh Seal' (Max Von Sydow struggling to find meaning in an apocalyptic environment), 'Persona' (Liv Ullmann and Bibi Andersson as two women suffering on a remote island) and 'Hour of the Wolf' (Von Sydow, living with Ullmann on a remote island, tempted by sophisticated strangers led by Erland Josephson).

But though the film deals with the many of those films' themes - emotional violence, power mind-games, dissatisfaction, ennui, exile - it somehow seems lighter, less like spending two hours on a (nerve) rack. This may be because though the title refers to two kinds of passion - an overwhelming love for or interest in something, and a journey of trials and sufferings leading to some kind of redemption - it features a hero who is removed from either.

A gruesome mystery element soon intrudes, as an unknown figure starts slaughtering all the animals on the island. This element performs at least two functions - by asking the question, who is this madman, it forces us to look more closely at our characters; and it creates an apocalyptic feel that is an appropriate backdrop to the characters' mental deterioraton or fatigue, while also suggesting a wider, largely unseen social framework against which these isolated figures exist.

It also contributes to the film's bleak colour scheme - though in colour, the film's winter setting is all brown and grey, with big black bare trees, swathes of mud and stone, dirty smudges of snow. This has obvious symbolic value - just as we first meet Von Sydow repairing his roof, as if trying to paper the cracks in his mind; so we see him alone, sometimes drunk, in this huge, empty landscape, peopled only by dead animals, elusive madmen and an unseen mob.

As is typical with Bergman, the film is full of narrative games or interruptions, such as the actors commenting on their roles, trying to encapsulate coherence while their director proliferates the unknown; and Ullmann's monochrome nightmare, increasing the sense of medieval plague, is a figure for a malaise much closer to home. ... Read more


14. Shame (Special Edition)
Director: Ingmar Bergman
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Average Customer Review: 4.56 out of 5 stars
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Reviews (16)

5-0 out of 5 stars Stunning evocation of love and war
Sweden never had a civil war, but Ingmar Bergman imagined it in this brilliant film. Like Stephen Spielberg's "Saving Private Ryan", "Shame" brings home the horror of wholesale butchery without a drop of sentimentality. Unlike that movie, though, "Shame" comes nowhere near hero-worship. In fact, I think it's actually the more masterful of the two films, for it evokes war's brutality on a much smaller scale and yet with greater subtlety and closer attention to the impact of destruction on individuals.

Filmed in 1968, at the height of the Cold War, "Shame" portrays the ordeal of a young couple named Jan and Eva Rosenberg (Max von Sydow and Liv Ullmann), who own a small farm on a remote island in Sweden and who struggle to survive as the conflict that ravages the mainland spills over and starts to engulfs them. Jan and Eva are thoroughly apolitical and want nothing to do with the war. While obviously evoking the competing totalitarian ideologies of the Cold War (communism & capitalism), Bergman's genius is that he never actually identifies what these two competing ideologies are. By doing so, he creates a film that has no explicit political message unless it be that war is hell. The film forces us to step outside our own narrow political prejudices and look directly at the effects of war on humanity, irrespective of politics. For Bergman, belief systems are totally irrelevant. By not even telling us what they are here in the first place, he focuses exclusively on the human tragedy involved.

Moreover, by setting this conflict in Sweden, an affluent Western country that has never been involved in a major modern war, Bergman makes us consider what war must feel like when it shows up in one of "our" societies. This is no a faraway place, and it has not been ravaged by ancient feuds and incessant hatreds down through history. It is as close to "us" here in the West as could be. Furthermore, by setting "Shame" in a country as pristine and "virgin" as Sweden, Bergman brings home to us with crushing force what most Europeans and Americans are now unable to fathom in hindsight due to so many decades of adjustment to it -- the savage, soul-splitting nightmare that devoured Europe in the 20th century and tore civilization apart at its very seams.

The visual impact of this film is also stunning. For while Scandinavian filmmakers had already filmed such incredible movies in color as "Elvira Madigan" (1967), Bergman chose to film this one in black and white. The effect of the black-and-white still-shots of Sydow and Ullmann's faces is remarkable (and what a face Sydow has!). The script and plot is phenomenal, alternating masterfully between understated and yet overpowering scenes of love and war.

Brilliant movie. Five stars.

5-0 out of 5 stars Bergman's War Movie; And One Of His Very Best
One doesn't think of Ingmar Bergman as a director of action or thriller (genre) movies. But he directs the war sequences in "Shame" with stunning confidence. It seems he could have made many more big (even epic) movies if he had been so inclined. This film features Bergman veterans Von Sydow and Ullmann as ordinary people who are turned into refugees by a ferocious war in which they get caught. They lose everything, are harassed, beaten and exploited. Eventually the neurotic Von Sydow proves he will do anything to survive. Simone Weil once wrote "the great mystery of life is not suffering, but affliction." That is: suffering brings out the best in some people, others it turns into beasts. This movie asks that most painful question: what would you do in the same situation? The film presents a harrowing landscape of hell on earth that ends in a climax that will inevitably remind you of "Titanic", although Bergman did it first. It's more immediately accessible than many of Bergman's other movies because the anguish here takes external form, not just emotionally interior terror. A neglected masterpiece that should be seen at least as often as his other great works.

4-0 out of 5 stars Great film; bad commentary by Gervais
Among the Bergman films I have seen, this is an unusually realistic and absorbing film. In fact, I recommend this film to people who probably would not appreciate or enjoy his other films.

But for the same reasons I recommend the film to mainstream filmgoers, I fear that the film might not reward repeat viewing in the same way as Bergman's more difficult films (like Persona, The Silence, perhaps Cries & Whispers). Of course, not everyone buys DVDs for the same reasons I do.

Anyway, I'm writing this review mainly to warn viewers of this DVD not to expect much from the audio commentary by Marc Gervais. He speaks mostly of other films, of the actors, of the varying degrees of greyness, and of his own mundane middle-class lifestyle. On the latter point, consider the fact that Gervais completely ignores the great "shame" monologue when he naively talks about how waiting in a crowded doctor's office is probably the closest thing any film viewer has experienced to the concentration camp-like environment which the protagonists must endure.

Worst of all, Gervais gets the war all wrong. He doesn't realize that the final bombardment defeats the invaders ...at least for a while, at least on that part of the island. He doesn't realize that the government doesn't change hands -- it just gets incredibly repressive, just like governments do in wartime. He actually believes that Jacobi acts as a traitor following the invasion of the island.

In making these mistakes, Gervais obviously misses so many clues that contradict Gervais' interpretation. For example, there is the silence following the big bombardment -- indicating that the invaders have been put down. Then there is the reaction of the camp officials to Ullman's participation in the filmed interview. Plus, the camp officials speak of the invaders liquidating nearly all the citizens (note that the events & scenes onscreen indicate that the citizens might have been killed in the crossfire more than anything else). Finally, there are many smaller clues that Gervais should have recognized later. Like when Jacobi speaks of having just visited his son in the military while his son was on leave -- something that would be impossible if Jacobi were acting as traitor or even living in rebel-controlled territory.

Generally, Gervais seems oblivious to the different ideological discourse on each side. Yet somehow Gervais lived through the 1960s and the Cold War without learning how to recognize the discourse and behavior of reactionary regimes or even the most stereotypical discourse of the orthodox, dogmatic left.

As a result of his misinterpretation, Gervais misses the fact that a once-friendly & benign government becomes arbitrarily cruel and repressive to it's own people. He also misses the fact that the govt bombs its own territory -- nearly destroying our couple's house -- to finally "pacify" part of the island. Finally, he misses the way in which the danger comes from one side, then from the other side, then from the other again, then of course from within.

I discuss this at length only because this is a matter of completely misreading the film, of the plot itself, of essentially conflating two different characters at various points.

True, both sides are shown to be equally guilty in this film. And Bergman dresses them in identical uniforms. But still, I expect better from a scholar's commentary ...and from any DVD release from such a significant -- and notoriously challenging -- director as Ingmar Bergman.

PS: If you like 'Shame', don't miss 'Come and See'. The recent 'Bloody Sunday' also serves a similar purpose -- to document and demonstrate the power of war to reshape individuals in the most horrifying ways.

5-0 out of 5 stars MGM corrected the OAR problem
MGM recalled the original issues of "Hour of the Wolf" and "Shame" because they were presented in a fake widescreen that cropped the top and bottom of the film. These are masterpieces that should not be missed, and they are now beautifully presented in their proper aspect ration of 1.33:1 with the entire image now intact.

5-0 out of 5 stars One of the five gems of Bergman
This film is simply extraordinary. The performances given por Von Sydow and (one of my female icons) Liv Ullman, are superb.
It's just the genius of Bergman what it makes the great difference. The story increases gradually in organic intensity. The passions and the hopeless get together and produce an efervescence state very close to the paranoid.
¡A real landmark in the story of the cinema!. ... Read more


15. Hour of the Wolf (Vargtimmen)
Director: Ingmar Bergman
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5-0 out of 5 stars One of his best
A famous painter, Johan (Max von Sydow), and his wife (Liv Ullmann) arrive on a small island where Johan plans to recollect his thoughts and find himself in his painting. He suffers from insomnia and bad nerves, and his nights are spent waiting in horror for the magical hour before dawn, the hour of the wolf, when a flood of memories, anxieties, and regrets transcend thoughts and appear as demonic apparitions which threaten to consume him. Johan's wife, Alma, must help him overcome his dangerous obsessions with his ghosts before the manifestations become too real, and its too late...

The Magician and Hour of the Wolf are my two favorite Bergman movies -- the reason being the flaws of these films only make them stronger by serving the point. In the Magician its an artist's fear of having his cheap trickery exposed for what it is, and his inability to make "pure" art. The fact that Bergman had to sell the film as an "erotic comedy" with a silly subplot doesn't make the film weaker: it just reinforces it with irony.

In the same way, the Hour of the Wolf was clearly made by a nervous and overworked artist: at this point the critics were out for blood with Bergman, ready to declare his career over and his movies indulgent exercises in his popular image. Bergman himself was having a rough time, with a theatre and a film career exhausting him and his marriage falling to pieces. But for Hour of the Wolf, any resignation, nervousness, or indulgence merely serves to strengthen the film's message. Hour of the Wolf is a desperate film, and because of that, I think its in this film that Bergman comes closest to his own artistic vision: That place where dreams, memories, and anxieties come together and become indistinguishible (something he would have a harder time conveying in films like Face to Face).

The film is beautifully made, with Sven Nykvist collaborating as usual. Bergman and his cohort were cutting close to perfect in craft around this period. The flood of images is overwhelming. Some favorite scenes: Johan struggling with a small boy while fishing, the dinner party (the pressure!), and of course, the famous "Magic Flute" scene, with the small puppet moving almost imperceptibly as a real man. And that prevalent Bergman talking point, Mozart, and the chorus' breathless chanting: "Pamin-na still lives." (lit. "Love still lives")

An emotional and personal film, one of his best.

5-0 out of 5 stars bergman's best, a terrifying masterpiece
"hour of the wolf" is,...far from a 'lesser' bergman film:it is his best.

johann (max von sydow), and his wife alma (liv ulmann), retreat to an island with one another and try to live a serene, peaceful life while johann works on his art. to say the least, it doesn't exactly pan out.

slowly but surely, johann's demons pursue him and whether they actually 'exist' or not is neither here nor there as far as the message of the movie goes. the most crucial scene is when the puppet show takes place in the demons' castle, and mozart's "magic flute" is done by the birdman, papageno. the darkness and meaninglessness of the human condition is reflected in the lines of mozart's character:"eternal night, eternal night, when whilst thou flee? when will mine eye the daylight see?" while these lines are recited by the birdman after the puppet show by papageno, a slow close up is gotten on his intensely evil face, and the lines are delivered with reverence and an inflection of utter doom and hopelessness. the answer is what johann already knows all too well--never. the artist's (and, by extension, man as a whole) attempts to know reality, to understand the purpose of his life and the meaning of existence, will come to naught, and he will be particularly unfortunate since, unlike the rest of the human race, he alone realizes the shadow of ephemerality and incomprehensibility cast all over life. the beginning and the end of the movie are more or less rational, in that there is nothing left but for johann to lose his mind. johann and alma, despite their intense love for one another, are just as cut off and unknown to one another as all human beings, and her attempts to save him are futile.

this film is a masterpiece, and masterfully utilizes the surreal and the imaginative to display bergman's unpleasant truth.

1-0 out of 5 stars MGM keep ruining movies!!
Why, MGM!? After CORRECTING the aspect ratio from 1.66:1, they've made the same mistake with "Hour of the Wolf" and "Shame" as they did with "Persona"; they've presented the movies in aspect ratio 1.33:1 instead of the original aspect ratio 1.37:1!! 11.5% of the image of "Persona" is missing, so naturally that is the case with these films as well. These are great movies that should not be messed with in this unprofessional manner. MGM have no respect for this art. Incidentally, "Persona" is available in its original aspect ratio on "Tartan" (region-free DVD) through amazon.co.uk. These movies were not intended to be watched this way, but if you are curious about these fine Bergman classics, don't own a VCR, and have a lot of money to spare, go ahead and support MGM's economy.

5-0 out of 5 stars Kudos to MGM for correcting OAR problem
MGM recalled the original issues of "Hour of the Wolf" and "Shame" because they were presented in a fake widescreen that cropped the top and bottom of the film. These are masterpieces that should not be missed, and they are now beautifully presented in their proper aspect ration of 1.33:1 with the entire image now intact.

5-0 out of 5 stars Bergman's only horror film and what a treat...
Johan Borg (Max von Sydow) seeks refuge with his wife Alma (Liv Ullman) on a remote island where Johan can get the solitude that he requires and where he can focus on his art. However, Johan is frequently interrupted by haunting demons both in the flesh and in the mind. These demons visit Johan in the hour of the wolf. This hour is when most babies are born and the most people die, it is also hour of the night when people wake up from their nightmares. Hour of the Wolf is a very unusual film for Ingmar Begrman as it is his only horror film and it begins with with Alma staring into the camera as she informs the audience that all the events pictured took place on the island and are all written down in her husbands diary. This beginning presents an atmosphere with an eerie hollowness full of questions and mysteries as to what information the diary holds. Bergman does this purposely as he crafts his story with canny imagination that haunts the audience visually as it is full of symbolism and suggestive themes. Nevertheless, it is the audience's imagination that creates the true horror in the story as Johan slowly steps toward his own doom. This leaves the audience with a significant cinematic experience of horror that will linger in the their minds as they will close their eyes before sleep. ... Read more


16. The Virgin Spring
Director: Ingmar Bergman

Asin: B00005JLV1
Catlog: DVD
Average Customer Review: 4.86 out of 5 stars
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Reviews (7)

5-0 out of 5 stars A very affecting film
This is definately a DVD worth buying. You don't have to be a Bergman buff to be enthralled by this film.

Rife with symbolism, suspense, and magical performances by the actors, this horrifying classic film feels almost contemporary in its sophisticated treatment of violence, jealousy, and revenge.

This film includes some brilliant cinematography you won't soon forget. Like the films of M. Night Shyamalan, there is simply so much to look at that you'll feel transformed into another place and time.

5-0 out of 5 stars A Must See Experience
Great photography!
Great Acting!
Great Story!

You will find yourself lost in this story about a father's revenge. The actors never let you think for a minute that you are not watching an actual film of medieval times.

There are a couple of very violent and disturbing scenes that are necessary for the story. All the lead actors are great. I especially liked the performance of the pregnant brunet girl who is jealous of Karin.

The filming makes you feel as if you are recalling a long forgotten memory or dream. Don't pass up the chance to see this film.

4-0 out of 5 stars Good Story
'The Virgin Spring' is a good story about a father trying to avenge the rape and murder of his daughter. It is a good story, but not something which will blow your mind.

5-0 out of 5 stars BEFORE IN THE BEDROOM THERE WAS THIS MASTERPIECE
The similarities between In the Bedroom and The Virgin Spring are uncanny, considering that Bedroom is not based on this story of a parental revenge. I've seen The Virgin Spring several times and I never get tired of it. There is always something new to discover in it. When Ingmar Bergman is good, he is great. When he is great, he is incomparable. This is one of his greatest creations. The black and white cinematography is stunning. In addition to the visual beauty of this film, the story is so compelling, so devastating ultimately, that I defy anyone who
does not cry from the soul in the end. This is a movie made by a master. It is one of the two or three best movies about the so-called dark ages that I have seen. One of the others is The Seventh Seal, also by Bergman coincidentally, which explores life, death, faith, justice, cruelty, revenge, and, of course the transcendental power of love. In The Virgin Spring, Bergman explores all of these and other related themes with such brilliance that he has managed to create a film that is completely entertaining, enlightening and spiritually uplifting. I can't boast about it enough. Do yourself a favor and get this movie, I assure you you will never forget it!

5-0 out of 5 stars Max Von Sydow & Ingmar Bergman at Their Best.
This is the only foreign movie to win an Academy Award. Its in stark black and white during Medieval times. Lots of Pagan imagery.
Max comes across as the Norse god Odin full of vengeance. He's
down right scary when he goes after the 3 who raped and murdered his beautiful daughter.
You won't be able to take your eyes off that scene, or the rest of the movie for that matter.
This movie is an A+ ... Read more


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