Ernst Ingmar Bergman was a Swedish director, writer and producer for film, stage and television. He is, in my opinion and that of many others, the greatest director ever from Sweden, and is world famous. He depicted bleakness and despair as well as comedy and hope in his explorations of the human condition. Described by Woody Allen as “probably the greatest film artist, all things considered, since the invention of the motion picture camera”, he is recognized as one of the most brilliant and influential filmmakers of modern cinema.
He directed 62 films, most of which he also wrote, and directed over 170 plays. Some of his internationally known favorite actors were Liv Ullmann, Bibi Andersson and Max von Sydow. Most of his films were set in the landscape of his native Sweden, and major themes were often bleak, dealing with death, illness, betrayal and insanity. His movies are also know for stunning photography. Bergman viewed every single picture in his movies as important. Bergman has won prizes at the Academy Awards (3 films), Cesar Awards, and the Cannes film festival.
Ingmar Bergman – Four Masterworks
I have recently revisitet some of his movies, and they still impress me as much or perhaps even more than they once did. The first is Ingmar Bergman – Four Masterworks (Criterion Collection). Languages: German, Latin, Swedish, English subtitles, Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1, 4 discs, DVD Release Date: December 4, 2007, Run Time: 384 minutes.
This CD set contains 4 of Swedish director Ingmar Bergman’s masterpieces:
The Seventh Seal is a movie which is still amazing, symbolic and intense. Several of the iconic scenes are even more powerful thanks to the quality of the print.
Virgin Spring is the story of the tragic consequences proceeding from a young girl’s innocence and budding romantic awareness leading to rape, murder and brutal revenge. Bergman’s skill is heartbreaking.
Wild Strawberries is a great, underrated work that may rise in your estimation. It is the fantasy-laced story of an elderly and accomplished man forced to confront the emotional poverty of his youth.
With Smiles of a Summer Night we see Bergman from another angle. This is an amusing comedy of the absurd which shows how Bergman’s eye for beautiful young women surely imprinted the image of Swedish womanhood in the west of the last half-century.
The sound quality is excellent, and the movies are nicely subtitled in English.
The Ingmar Bergman Special Edition
The Ingmar Bergman Special Edition DVD Collection (Persona / Shame / Hour of the Wolf / The Passion of Anna / The Serpent’s Egg) (Color, DVD-Video, Box set, 6 discs, Language: English, Swedish, with English, Spanish and French subtitles, Region 1).
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. Also featured is Bibi Andersson.
Ingmar Bergman Film Trilogy: Chamber Dramas
A Film Trilogy by Ingmar Bergman – Criterion Collection (Through a Glass Darkly/Winter Light/The Silence) Box set, 4 discs, Black & White, DVD-Video, Subtitled, NTSC, Language: English and Swedish, Subtitles: English, Region: Region 1, Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1.
Between 1961 and 1963, Ingmar Bergman released a remarkable trilogy of so-called chamber dramas, concerned with the futility of sustaining faith in God, family, love, or much else. The series underscore a new preference for intimate, relationship-driven stories, austere settings, and haunting tones of emotional isolation and despair.
Through a Glass Darkly concerns a psychologically fragile woman, Karin (Harriet Andersson), who seeks recovery from a nervous breakdown while on a remote-island vacation with her family. Through a Glass Darkly is a heartbreaking, powerful work of art.
Winter Light reunites Björnstrand, this time playing a pastor suffering a crisis of faith while ministering to a shrinking congregation, and Von Sydow as a parishioner lost to acute anxiety over the possibility of a nuclear holocaust. Neither man can help or heal the other.
The Silence is the most abstract entry in the trilogy. It is the story of two sisters, Esther (Ingrid Thulin) and Anna (Gunnel Lindblom), and the latter’s son (Jörgen Lindström), all traveling by train to Sweden but forced to stay in a foreign country when Esther’s chronic bronchial problems require her to rest. It is an intense and highly memorable film.