Ingmar Bergman 34 Films – DCP, 35 mm, 16 mm, DVD, Blu-ray
This existential wail of a drama from Ingmar Bergman concerns two sisters, Karin (Ingrid Thulin) and Maria (Liv Ullmann), keeping vigil for a third, Agnes (Harriet Andersson), who is dying of cancer and can find solace only in the arms of a beatific servant (Kari Sylwan). An intensely felt film that is one of Bergman’s most striking formal experiments, Cries and Whispers (which won an Oscar for the extraordinary color photography of Sven Nykvist) is a powerful depiction of human behavior in the face of death, positioned on the borders between reality and nightmare, tranquillity and terror.
In Ingmar Bergman's feature directing debut, urban beauty-shop proprietress Miss Jenny arrives in an idyllic rural town one morning to whisk away her eighteen-year-old daughter, Nelly, whom she abandoned as a child, from the loving woman who has raised her. Once in Stockholm, Nelly receives a crash course in adult corruption and wrenching heartbreak.
Autumn Sonata was the only collaboration between cinema’s two great Bergmans: Ingmar, the iconic director of The Seventh Seal, and Ingrid, the monumental star of Casablanca. The grand dame, playing an icy concert pianist, is matched beat for beat in ferocity by the filmmaker’s recurring lead Liv Ullmann, as her eldest daughter. Over the course of a day and a long, painful night that the two spend together after an extended separation, they finally confront the bitter discord of their relationship. This cathartic pas de deux, evocatively shot in burnished harvest colors by the great Sven Nykvist, ranks among Ingmar Bergman’s major dramatic works.
Through the eyes of ten-year-old Alexander, we witness the delights and conflicts of the Ekdahl family, a sprawling bourgeois clan in turn-of-the-twentieth-century Sweden. Ingmar Bergman intended Fanny and Alexander as his swan song, and it is the legendary director’s warmest and most autobiographical film, a four-time Academy Award–winning triumph that combines his trademark melancholy and emotional intensity with immense joy and sensuality. Ingmar Bergman described Fanny and Alexander as "the sum total of my life as a filmmaker." And in this, the full-length (312-minute) version of his triumphant valediction, his vision is expressed at its fullest.
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.
Ingmar Bergman's The Magician (Ansiktet) is an engaging, brilliantly conceived tale of deceit from one of cinema’s premier illusionists. Max von Sydow stars as Dr. Vogler, a nineteenth-century traveling mesmerist and peddler of potions whose magic is put to the test in Stockholm by the cruel, eminently rational royal medical adviser Dr. Vergérus. The result is a diabolically clever battle of wits that’s both frightening and funny, shot in rich, gorgeously gothic black and white.
By the midsixties, Ingmar Bergman had already conjured many of the cinema’s most unforgettable images. But with the radical Persona, this supreme artist attained new levels of visual poetry. In the first of a series of legendary performances for Bergman, Liv Ullmann plays a stage actor who has inexplicably gone mute; an equally mesmerizing Bibi Andersson is the garrulous young nurse caring for her in a remote island cottage. While isolated together there, the women perform a mysterious spiritual and emotional transference that would prove to be one of cinema’s most influential creations. Acted with astonishing nuance and shot in stark contrast and soft light by the great Sven Nykvist, Persona is a penetrating, dreamlike work of profound psychological depth.
In Ingmar Bergman's Port of Call, Berit, a suicidal young woman living in a working-class port town, unexpectedly falls for Gösta, a sailor on leave. Haunted by a troubled past and held in a vice grip by her domineering mother, Berit begins to hope that her relationship with Gösta might save her from self-destruction.
Ingmar Bergman presents the battle of the sexes as a ramshackle, grotesque carnival in Sawdust and Tinsel, one of the late master's most vivid early works. The story of the charged relationship between a turn-of-the-century traveling circus owner (Ake Grönberg) and his performer girlfriend (Harriet Andersson), the film features dreamlike detours and twisted psychosexual power plays that presage the director's Smiles of a Summer Night and The Seventh Seal, works that would soon change the landscape of art cinema forever.
Scenes from a Marriage chronicles the many years of love and turmoil that bind Marianne (Liv Ullmann) and Johan (Erland Josephson) through matrimony, infidelity, divorce, and subsequent partners. Shot in intense, intimate close-ups by master cinematographer Sven Nykvist and featuring flawless performances, Ingmar Bergman’s emotional X-ray reveals the intense joys and pains of a complex relationship.
While at a summerhouse, awaiting their husbands’ return, three sisters-in-law recount stories from their respective marriages. Rakel (Anita Björk) tells of receiving a visit from a former lover (Jarl Kulle); Marta (Maj-Britt Nilsson) of agreeing to marry a painter (Birger Malmsten) only after having his child; and Karin (Eva Dahlbeck) of being stuck with her husband (Gunnar Björnstrand) in an elevator, where they talk intimately for the first time in years. Driven by dexterous flashbacks, the engaging Secrets of Women is a veritable seedbed of perennial Bergman themes, ranging from aspiring young love to the fear of loneliness, with the finale a masterpiece of chamber comedy.
Disillusioned and exhausted after a decade of battling in the Crusades, a knight (Max von Sydow) encounters Death on a desolate beach and challenges him to a fateful game of chess. Much studied, imitated, even parodied, but never outdone, Bergman’s stunning allegory of man’s search for meaning, The Seventh Seal (Det sjunde inseglet), was one of the benchmark foreign imports of America’s 1950s art-house heyday, pushing cinema’s boundaries and ushering in a new era of moviegoing.
After fifteen films that received mostly local acclaim, the 1955 comedy Smiles of a Summer Night (Sommarnattens leende) at last ushered in an international audience for Ingmar Bergman. In turn-of-the-century Sweden, four men and four women attempt to navigate the laws of attraction. During a weekend in the country, the women collude to force the men’s hands in matters of the heart, exposing their pretensions and insecurities along the way. Chock-full of flirtatious propositions and sharp witticisms delivered by such Swedish screen legends as Gunnar Björnstrand and Harriet Andersson, Smiles of a Summer Night is one of cinema’s great erotic comedies.
Touching on many of the themes that would define the rest of his legendary career—isolation, performance, the inescapability of the past—Ingmar Bergman’s tenth film was a gentle drift toward true mastery. In one of the director’s great early female roles, Maj-Britt Nilsson beguiles as an accomplished ballet dancer haunted by her tragic youthful affair with a shy, handsome student (Birger Malmsten). Her memories of the sunny, rocky shores of Stockholm’s outer archipelago mingle with scenes from her gloomy present, most of them set in the dark backstage environs of the theater where she works. A film that the director considered a creative turning point, Summer Interlude (Sommarlek) is a reverie about life and death that unites Bergman’s love of theater and cinema.
Inspired by the earthy eroticism of Harriet Andersson, in the first of her many roles for him, Ingmar Bergman had a major international breakthrough with this sensual and ultimately ravaging tale of young love. A girl (Andersson) and boy (Lars Ekborg) from working-class families in Stockholm run away from home to spend a secluded, romantic summer at the beach, far from parents and responsibilities. Inevitably, it is not long before the pair are forced to return to reality. The version initially released in the U.S. was reedited by its distributor into something more salacious, but the original Summer with Monika (Sommaren med Monika), presented here, is a work of stunning maturity and one of Bergman’s most important films.
While vacationing on a remote island retreat, a family’s already fragile ties are tested when daughter Karin (Harriet Andersson) discovers her father has been using her schizophrenia for his own literary means. As she drifts in and out of lucidity, the father (Gunnar Björnstrand), along with Karin’s husband (Max von Sydow) and her younger brother (Lars Passgård) are unable to prevent Karin’s harrowing descent into the abyss of mental illness. Winner of the 1962 Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film and featuring an astonishing lead performance by Andersson, Through a Glass Darkly presents an unflinching vision of a family’s near disintegration and a tortured psyche further taunted by God’s intangible presence.
An orchestra violinist's dreams of becoming a celebrated soloist and fears of his own mediocrity get in the way of his marriage to the patient, caring Marta. Played out to the music of Beethoven, Ingmar Bergman's To Joy is a heartbreaking tale of one man's inability to overcome the demons standing in the way of his happiness.
Winner of the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film, Ingmar Bergman’s The Virgin Spring is a harrowing tale of faith, revenge, and savagery in medieval Sweden. Starring frequent Bergman collaborator and screen icon Max von Sydow, the film is both beautiful and cruel in its depiction of a world teetering between paganism and Christianity, and of one father’s need to avenge the death of a child.
Traveling to accept an honorary degree, Professor Isak Borg—masterfully played by veteran director Victor Sjöström—is forced to face his past, come to terms with his faults, and make peace with the inevitability of his approaching death. Through flashbacks and fantasies, dreams and nightmares, Wild Strawberries dramatizes one man’s remarkable voyage of self-discovery. This richly humane masterpiece, full of iconic imagery, is a treasure from the golden age of art-house cinema and one of the films that catapulted Ingmar Bergman to international acclaim.
“God, why did you desert me?” With Winter Light, master craftsman Ingmar Bergman explores the search for redemption in a meaningless existence. In this stark depiction of spiritual crisis, small-town pastor Tomas Ericsson (Gunnar Björnstrand) performs his duties mechanically before a dwindling congregation. When he is asked to assist with a troubled parishioner’s (Max von Sydow) debilitating fear of nuclear annihilation, Tomas is terrified to find that he can provide nothing but his own uncertainty. Beautifully photographed by Sven Nykvist, Winter Light is an unsettling look at the human craving for personal validation in a world seemingly abandoned by God.
In one of Ingmar Bergman’s most stylized and political films, three traveling actors are accused of taking part in a performance deemed pornographic by the state’s authorities. Before an intractable judge, they are forced to defend themselves and their art, but their own personal flaws and scandals also are brought to the fore. Taking place in a shadowy bureaucratic netherworld, The Rite confronts artistic censorship while also investigating such Bergman-esque themes as sexual violence and the nature of performance.
Two sisters—the sickly, intellectual Ester (Ingrid Thulin) and the sensual, pragmatic Anna (Gunnel Lindblom)—travel by train with Anna’s young son Johan (Jorgen Lindstrom) to a foreign country seemingly on the brink of war. Attempting to cope with their alien surroundings, the sisters resort to their personal vices while vying for Johan’s affection, and in so doing sabotage any hope for a future together. Regarded as one of the most sexually provocative films of its day, Ingmar Bergman’s The Silence offers a brilliant, disturbing vision of emotional isolation in a suffocating spiritual void.
Conceived as an amusing diversion in the wake of the despairing The Silence, this comedy is Bergman’s first film in color, and it looks like a glorious chocolate box. Working from a bawdy screenplay he cowrote with actor Erland Josephson, about a supercilious critic drawn into the dizzying orbit of a famous cellist, Bergman brings together buoyant comic turns by a number of his frequent collaborators, including Jarl Kulle, Eva Dahlbeck, Harriet Andersson, and Bibi Andersson. All These Women, in which Bergman pokes fun at the pretensions of drawing room art, possesses a distinctly playful atmosphere and a carefree rhythm.
Made during his self-imposed exile in Germany, Bergman’s From the Life of the Marionettes offers a lacerating portrait of a troubled marriage, and a complex psychological analysis of a murder. Unhappily married businessman Peter nurses fantasies of murdering his wife, Katarina, until a prostitute becomes his surrogate prey. In the aftermath of the crime, Peter and Katarina’s psychiatrist and others attempt to explain its roots. This compelling film moves seamlessly between dream and everyday reality, between lurid color and austere black and white, and the acting by the German cast is superb.
The strangest and most disturbing of the films Bergman shot on the island of Fårö, Hour of the Wolf stars Max von Sydow as a haunted painter living in voluntary exile with his wife (Liv Ullmann). When the couple are invited to a nearby castle for dinner, things start to go wrong with a vengeance, as a coven of sinister aristocrats hastens the artist’s psychological deterioration. This gripping film is charged with a nightmarish power rare in the Bergman canon, and contains dreamlike effects that brilliantly underscore the tale’s horrific elements.
The fifth drama that Bergman shot on his beloved Fårö describes a mood of fear and spiritual guilt. Not long after the dissolution of his marriage, and a fleeting liaison with a neighbor (Bibi Andersson), the reclusive Andreas (Max von Sydow) begins an ultimately disastrous affair with the mysterious, beguiling Anna (Liv Ullmann), who has recently lost her own husband and son. The film, which incorporates documentary-style interviews with the actors, blurs the boundaries between fiction and nonfiction, dream and reality, identity and anonymity.
Shame was Bergman’s scathing response to the escalation of the conflict in Vietnam. Max von Sydow and Liv Ullmann star as musicians living in quiet retreat on a remote island farm, where the civil war that drove them from the city soon catches up with them. Amid the chaos and confusion of the military struggle, vividly evoked by Sven Nykvist’s handheld camera work, the two are faced with uncomfortable moral choices. This film, which contains some of the greatest scenes in Bergman’s oeuvre, shows the devastating impact of war on defenseless individuals.
Grave and witty by turns, this drama develops into a probing study of the psychology of desire. Susanne (Eva Dahlbeck), head of a modeling agency, takes her protégée Doris (Harriet Andersson) to a fashion show in Gothenburg, where Susanne makes contact with a former lover, and Doris finds herself pursued by a married dignitary (Gunnar Björnstrand). With its parallel narratives and subtle compositions, Dreams marked a transition between Bergman’s early explorations of affairs of the heart and the more somber and virtuosic masterpieces to come later in the fifties.
This sophisticated fantasy—the last Bergman film to be shot by the great Gunnar Fischer—is an engaging satire on petit-bourgeois morals. The Devil suffers from an inflamed eye, which he informs Don Juan (Jarl Kulle) can only be cured if a young woman’s chastity is breached. So the legendary lover ascends from Hell and sets about seducing the innocent pastor’s daughter Britt-Marie (Bibi Andersson). Bergman’s dialogue bubbles with an irony reminiscent of his beloved Molière, and the music of Domenico Scarlatti (played by Bergman’s fourth wife, Käbi Laretei) underscores the joy that invests much of the film.
Bergman had discovered the bleak, windswept island of Fårö while scouting locations for Through a Glass Darkly in 1960. Nearly a decade later, and after shooting a number of arresting dramas there, the director set out to pay tribute to the inhabitants of Fårö. In Fårö Document, shot on handheld 16 mm by the peerless Sven Nykvist, Bergman interviews a variety of locals, in the process laying bare the generational divide between young residents eager to leave the island and older folk more deeply rooted in bucolic tradition. The film revealed Bergman to be a sensitive and masterly documentarian.
One of Bergman’s most satisfying marital comedies, A Lesson in Love stars the droll and sparkling duo of Eva Dahlbeck and Gunnar Björnstrand as a couple deep into their married years and seeking fresh pastures. A gynecologist (Björnstrand) falls for one of his patients (Yvonne Lombard), while his wife (Dahlbeck) flounces off to Copenhagen to renew her fling with a sculptor (Åke Grönberg). Deftly interspersing scenes of farce with interludes of tranquil reflection, A Lesson in Love serves as a cocktail before the full-blown comic brilliance of Smiles of a Summer Night the following year.
Returning to Fårö after living in Germany for three years, Bergman undertook his second documentary tribute to the remote Swedish island he loved. Longer, more optimistic, and less ascetic than its predecessor, this film charts a calendar year in the life of the island’s 673 inhabitants, many of whom he observes working tirelessly shearing sheep, thatching roofs, and slaughtering livestock, as well as going about various communal rituals. Distilled from twenty- eight hours of material, Fårö Document 1979 is a lyrical depiction of life’s cyclical nature.
Made right after the dissolution of Bergman’s own second marriage, Thirst is an often dazzling tirade against the institution of matrimony. The principal couple, Bertil (Birger Malmsten) and Ruth (Eva Henning), travel home by train to Sweden from Switzerland, at each other’s throats the whole way. Meanwhile, in Stockholm, Bertil’s former lover, Viola (Birgit Tengroth, who also wrote the stories on which the film is based), tries to evade the predatory advances of her psychiatrist, and then of a ballet dancer who was once a friend of Ruth’s. This dark and multilayered drama, sustained by biting dialogue, reveals Bergman’s profound understanding of the female psyche.
With his underappreciated first English-language film, a relationship drama shot near his island retreat of Fårö, Bergman delivered a compelling portrait of conflicting desires. A chance encounter between seemingly contented housewife Karin (Bibi Andersson) and intense American archaeologist David (Elliott Gould) leads to the initiation of a torrid and tempestuous affair, one that eventually threatens the stability of her life with a respected local surgeon (Max von Sydow). Upon its release, Bergman declared this emotionally complex and sensitively performed film to be his first real love story.
A celebration of revolutionary filmmaking.
Taking Virginia Woolf’s novel Orlando: A Biography as its starting point, academic virtuoso turned filmmaker Paul B. Preciado has fashioned the documentary, Orlando: My Political Biography, as a personal essay, historical analysis, and social manifesto which premiered and took home four prizes at the 2023 Berlin Film Festival.
Paul B. Preciado