Sawdust and Tinsel
A film by Ingmar Bergman
1953/ Sweden / 93 minutes/ B&W
28th April 2013; 5.45 pm
Perks Mini Theater
http://konangalfilmsociety.blogspot.in/Ingmar Bergman's thirteenth film is a landmark in the Swedish filmmaker's oeuvre; it's the beginning of a uniquely distinctive style that became known to the international community as a Bergman film. The Baroque style is adapted from the silent screen German expressionism cinema. It's a misanthropic melodrama that has a dim view of marriage and love, believing it only leads to humiliation. It has great performances and is a visual treat, but its masochistic storyline might not be for all tastes.
It's set at the turn-of-century Sweden. Aging, portly, traveling circus owner and ring master Albert Johansson (Ake Grönberg) is passing with his down-and-out troupe through a provincial town where his tobacco shop owner wife Agda (Annika Tretow) lives with his children. He hasn't seen her for three years and has since taken as a mistress his headstrong gypsy bareback rider, the much younger Anne (Harriet Andersson).
Anne visits a rehearsal of the suave womanizing lead actor of a theater production, Frans (Hasse Ekman). She's humiliated and she has been taken for a fool. When Albert learns of her indiscretion, during the nighttime circus show he challenges Frans to a fight in the main ring and gets beaten up. The humiliated Albert thinks of shooting himself.
The memorable film explores such things as betrayal and Bergman's main theme of humiliation between the sexes. It's a scathing look at the human condition, and a key beginning to the filmmaker's vintage trademark films. Film unfolds the happenings of a day – from the time the circus troupe pitches the tent to the packing up and leaving the village with extraordinary visuals. In America, the film was titled The Naked Night; Sawdust and Tinsel is the British title.
Universally regarded as one of the great masters of modern cinema, Bergman has often concerned himself with spiritual and psychological conflicts. His work has evolved in distinct stages over four decades, while his visual style-intense, intimate, complex-has explored the vicissitudes of passion with a mesmerizing cinematic rhetoric. His prolific output tends to return to and elaborate on recurrent images, subjects and techniques.
Ingmar Bergman was born on July 14, 1918, in Uppsala, Sweden. In 1937 Bergman entered the University of Stockholm, where he became an active member of the student theatrical group. In 1942, after a brilliant production of William Shakespeare's Macbeth, the aspiring director was appointed to the Swedish Royal Opera. In the years following he divided his talents equally between stage and film efforts.
In 1945 Bergman directed his first film, Crisis, the story of an unhappy love affair which ends in suicide. Several films followed closely, but in 1956 Bergman reached the peak of critical and popular praise with The Seventh Seal. It was followed by masterpieces like Wild Strawberries, Persona, Cries and Whispers etc. In addition to film, he directed over 70 plays.
Although apparently not influenced by other filmmakers, with the possible exception of Carl Dreyer, Bergman himself has had a wide-ranging influence on a generation of filmmakers. A unique and powerful presence, his genius has made an extraordinary contribution to the art of the cinema. He died peacefully in his sleep, at his home on Fårö island, on 30 July 2007, at the age of eighty-nine.