Directed by: #IngmarBergman
Written by: #IngmarBergman
A box set of the early works of Ingmar Bergman, so early the first films he is credited with in this collection (Torment and Eva) he didn’t even direct only writing the screenplay but such was his influence they are considered Bergman films.
This collection of his earlier works show all the hallmarks of the classic Bergman films shot in black and white as he begins to develop his style making the journey from young successful theatre director, to screen writer and film director. Learning his craft working alongside established Swedish film directors Alf Sjöberg (Torment) and Gustaf Molander (Eva), both films written or partly written by Bergman, Torment was awarded the Grand Prix at the Cannes Film Festival and Eva received reasonable enough box office success for Bergman to be given the finance for his first film. He was handed the reins as screenwriter and director for his first feature Crisis (based on a play by Leck Fischer) followed by Prison the first entirely Bergman film he wrote and directed.
Whilst not considered masterpieces like his later films of the 1950's such as The Seventh Seal and Wild Strawberries, they were important stepping stones in his journey and are far from shabby offerings. The varied themes all have the underlying essence of Bergman films heavily influenced by his formal upbringing in Sweden. His sharp observations have a universal truth about life brought to screen with strong establishing shots and heavy intellectualised dialogue using a core troupe of actors. The films are often sombre and tragic, sometimes sexually provocative but generally caring and compassionate. Stories, to quote a line from Prison, ‘from cradle to grave.’
With 8 films to enjoy this is a great introduction to the work of a director considered one of the greatest of all time. Here he shows his already developed flair for storytelling full of themes of intense meaning where tragedy and death are never far away but where there is always a lesson to be learnt or a joy to be appreciated.
Hets (Torment) (1944)
Director: Alf Sjöberg
Assistant Director: Ingmar Bergman
Screenplay: Ingmar Bergman
Cast: Stig Järrel, Alf Kjellin, Mai Zetterling, Olof Winnerstrand, Gösta Cederlund, Stig Olin
This is the story of the grammar school system and the oppressive experience of Bergman’s own school days. Beautifully shot by director Alf Sjöberg the impressive but intimidating grand architecture of the school grounds provide a foreboding institutional presence. It starts by showing everyday school life and the school tales of rules, discipline and punishment. The children are faced with a stern authoritarian Latin teacher, Caligula, whom Jan-Erik, the young protagonist student, finds himself getting in trouble with. The disgrace this brings to the boy’s family shows the cold nature of the importance of the family’s reputation over the boys actual fair treatment and future. The draconian school theme runs parallel with Jan-Erik’s relationship with a young girl, Bertha, who he tries to help with her alcoholism and a relationship problem. The two themes become intertwined taking a toll on Jan-Erik’s well-being and his growing school problems.
Director: Gustaf Molander
Screenplay: Ingmar Bergman, Gustaf Molander
Based on a story by: Ingmar Bergman
Cast: Birger Malmsten, Eva Stiberg, Eva Dahlbeck, Inga Landgré, Stig Olin
A disjointed story charting the life of a returning sailor, Bo, who comes back to his small home town village to see his family. He is reunited with his childhood sweetheart, Eva, but as they rekindle their romance he is filled with guilt from his childhood memories of a dreadful accident he was responsible for. We jump back and forwards between these two stories as he and Eva look after her sick grandfather on his deathbed and we are shown the stark difference in stages of life between the grandparents and young couple. We then jump to Bo’s life living in the city working as a jazz trumpeter at a nightclub where he’s staying at his friend’s apartment along with his friend’s fiancé and Bo’s fidelity is tested by a heated menage à trois offering. Finally we switch to find him and Eva living on an isolated island where Eva is heavily pregnant and when the baby suddenly starts to arrive unexpectedly Bo runs into more difficulties trying to get Eva ashore and he begins to reflect back on his life, shown through some classic Bergman double exposure overlayed editing.
Director: Ingmar Bergman
Screenplay: Ingmar Bergman
Based on the play by: Leck Fischer
Cast: Dagny Lind, Inga Landgré, Marianne Löfgren, Stig Olin
Is another small town story about a young girl, Nelly, who has been raised lovingly by her foster mother but when her real mother, Jenny, returns on the scene Nelly is lured to join her mother’s more glamorous lifestyle living in the city. Spoiling her daughter with expensive finery she persuades Nelly to come to live with her in the city and her head is turned by Jack the poetic charmer she meets at a village concert party. He is a smooth luvvie but a questionable influence on the sweet young country girl and is a million miles away from Nelly’s doting admirer back home, the steady and dependable but older Ulf.
Director: Ingmar Bergman
Screenplay: Ingmar Berman
Cast: Doris Svedlund, Birger Malmsten, Eva Henning, Hasse Ekman, Stig Olin
Prison is a much more abstract surrealist film that takes a mocking look at the question of reality in film. It begins with a man appearing dramatically from the fog who then walks straight onto a film set for us to only discover he is the maths teacher of the director and wants to ask for his idea to be made into a film. His idea is based on the religious supposition that earth is in fact hell,s which becomes the premise for one of the filmmaker / journalist clique to recite a tragic tale about a girl, Birgitta. This harrowing story is told about a young prostitute girl and her new born baby in juxtaposition with the question of reality in film.
Limited Edition (5,000 copies only) 5-disc Blu-ray box set containing eight films released on 26 July 2021. Three films* from Volume 1 will be released on BFI Player Subscription on 9 August. All films in Volume 1 will be released on iTunes and Amazon Prime on 16 August.
Volume 1 includes:
Music in the Darkness
*Port of Call
Plus special features