Scripts on Films (February 2018)

Criterion Collection’s Introduction on Wild StrawberriesThrough 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.

Criterion Collection’s Introduction on PersonaIn 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.

Criterion Collection’s Introduction on Cries and WhispersAn 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.

Criterion Collection’s Introduction on Scenes from a MarriageShot 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.

A.O.Scott’s Review on Western: Geopolitics and global economics are elements in the atmosphere, less themes of the movie than part of the air its inhabitants breathe. It’s worth noting that Maren Ade, whose “Toni Erdmann” is also about a German expatriate in a Balkan country, is credited as a producer of “Western.” (Ms. Grisebach was a script consultant on “Toni Erdmann.”) Both films combine highly specific individual narratives with sharp, critical scrutiny of the way the world is organized now — the imbalances of power and autonomy that inevitably, though not always predictably, influence the ways people behave toward one another.

New York Times’ Bosley Crowther on The Virgin Spring: In all of this representation, Mr. Bergman has achieved a tremendous sense of mental heaviness, primeval passion and physical power. … …Each character may be a representation of some contemporary element in the world. But we rather feel Mr. Bergman has here given us nothing more than a literal, very harsh, very vivid and occasionally touching statement of a moral. When water springs from the earth beneath the dead child, after the father has repented his wrong, the simple — almost naïve — conception is resolved in a miracle.

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