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After having neglected her children for many years, celebrated, but icy concert pianist Charlotte visits her daughter Eva at her home. Over the course of a day and a long, painful night, the duo confront the painful discord of their relationship.
For more about Autumn Sonata and the Autumn Sonata Blu-ray release, see Autumn Sonata Blu-ray Review published by Dr. Svet Atanasov on September 17, 2013 where this Blu-ray release scored 5.0 out of 5.
Director: Ingmar Bergman
Writer: Ingmar Bergman
Starring: Ingrid Bergman (I), Liv Ullmann, Lena Nyman, Halvar Björk, Marianne Aminoff, Arne Bang-Hansen
» See full cast & crew
Autumn Sonata Blu-ray Review
Reviewed by Dr. Svet Atanasov, September 17, 2013
Ingmar Bergman's "Hostsonaten" a.k.a "Autumn Sonata" (1978) arrives on Blu-ray courtesy of Criterion. The supplemental features on the release include an original trailer for the film; exclusive new interview with Liv Ullmann; archival video interview with Ingrid Bergman; long documentary film produced by Arne Carlsson; introduction by Ingmar Bergman; and audio commentary by film critic Peter Cowie. The release also arrives with an illustrated booklet featuring Farran Smith Nehme's essay "Mothers, Daughters, and Monsters". In Swedish or English, with optional English subtitles for the main feature. Region-A "locked".
Autumn Sonata is the one and only film for which the two legendary Bergmans, Ingmar and Ingrid, teamed up. It channels a lot of their own frustration with family members who had profound effect on their lives when they were younger.
Acclaimed concert pianist Charlotte Andergast (Ingrid Bergman, Europe '51, Stromboli - Terra Di Dio) decides to visit the country house of her daughter Eva (Liv Ullmann, Persona, Cries and Whispers) and her husband Victor (Halvar Bjork, The New Land) seven years after the last time they met. It is early autumn, the best time to travel through the Swedish countryside.
Eva enthusiastically greets her mother and immediately proceeds to show her the room where she will spend the weekend. Then while waiting for Victor to come home, the two women try to decide how to best spend their time together.
Also staying in the house is Helena (Lena Nyman, I Am Curious), Eva's mentally ill sister. She is almost completely paralyzed and unable to speak properly. Eva has been taking care of her sister for years, without telling Charlotte.
The casual planning quickly evolves into a tense discussion about parental responsibilities, missed opportunities, and eventually guilt. Feeling lonely for the first time in her life, Charlotte is shocked to hear Eva confessing that she never thought she was the mother she should have been. When Eva needed Charlotte to be her mother, she was always busy practicing or performing in Europe's best concert halls. Then in a similarly surprising confession, Charlotte reveals that she never wanted to be the mother Eva needed.
Autumn Sonata is an indescribably beautiful yet brutal film. It takes place over the course of a single day inside a very stylish country house nearby a picturesque lake. Bergman shot the film with his favorite cinematographer Sven Nykvist in Norway in the fall of 1977, soon after the Swedish government had accused him of income tax evasion.
The film looks and feels like a carefully staged theater play. The camera patiently observes Bergman (at the time already seriously ill) and Ullmann's faces as they remember the past and then unleash their emotions. There are numerous long close-ups throughout the film, however, where their eyes reveal a lot more than their words.
Sporadic flashbacks offer a glimpse at crucial events that should have revealed that the relationship between the mother and her daughters is collapsing. In one of them the still healthy Helena makes an important discovery after Charlotte leaves for an important concert. This dramatic event is then analyzed as witnessed by Charlotte, Eva, and Helena.
The use of Chopin's Prelude no. 2 in A Minor in the film is most appropriate. At first the music is simple, calm and relaxing, but the occasional tritons gradually reveal a different, more complex harmonic structure. Charlotte and Eva's relationship evolves in a similar fashion.
Note: In 1979, Autumn Sonata earned Oscar nominations for Best Actress in a Leading Role (Ingrid Bergman) and Best Writing, Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen (Ingmar Bergman).
Autumn Sonata Blu-ray, Video Quality
Presented in an aspect ratio of 1.67:1, encoded with MPEG-4 AVC and granted a 1080p transfer, Ingmar Bergman's Autumn Sonata arrives on Blu-ray courtesy of Criterion.
The following text appears inside the booklet provided with this Blu-ray release:
"This new digital transfer was created in 2K resolution on an ARRISCAN film scanner from the original camera negative. Thousands of instances of dirt, debris, scratches, splices, warps, jitter, and flicker were manually removed using Digital Vision's Phoenix and the Foundry's NUKE.
The original monaural soundtrack was remastered at 24-bit from the 35mm magnetic track. Clicks, thumps, hiss, and hum were manually removed using Pro Tools HD. Crackle was attenuated using Audio Cube's integrated workstation.
Transfer supervisor: Mats Forsberg.
Colorist: Mats Holmgren/Chimney Pot, Stockholm."
The high-definition transfer is simply terrific. The numerous close-ups of Ingrid Bergman and Liv Ullmann's faces during the intense discussions boast outstanding depth and fantastic clarity (see screencapture #1). Contrast levels also remain stable throughout the entire film. Perhaps the most dramatic improvements, however, are in the area of color reproduction. There is a wide range of new, beautifully saturated and very healthy colors that effectively transform the entire film. The often overwhelming noise visible during darker sequences on the R1 DVD release has also been eliminated. There are no traces of problematic degraining corrections. Sharpening adjustments have not been applied either. Unsurprisingly, from start to finish the film looks very healthy. Lastly, I noticed a couple of very light vertical lines (obviously inherited), but there are no cuts, damage marks, stains, or warps to report in this review. Frame transitions are also excellent. To sum it all up, this new Blu-ray release of Autumn Sonata offers a tremendous upgrade in quality over previous DVD releases of the film. (Note: This is a Region-A "locked" Blu-ray release. Therefore, you must have a native Region-A or Region-Free PS3 or SA in order to access its content).
Autumn Sonata Blu-ray, Audio Quality
There are two standard audio tracks on this Blu-ray release: Swedish LPCM 1.0 and English Dolby Digital 1.0. For the record, Criterion have provided optional English subtitles for the main feature.
There are notable improvements in the audio department as well. Despite the fact that this is primarily a dialog-driven film, it is very easy to tell that depth and clarity are substantially better when compared to those of the R1 DVD release of Autumn Sonata. Chopin's prelude also sounds thicker and better rounded. There is absolutely no background hiss, cracks, pops, audio dropouts or distortions to report in this review.
Autumn Sonata Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Autumn Sonata Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
I sincerely hope that Criterion will continue bringing more of the recently restored in Sweden Ingmar Bergman films to Blu-ray. From Summer Interlude to Summer with Monika to Wild Strawberries, every single Blu-ray release has been a revelation. Autumn Sonata, the Swedish director's one and only film with the great Ingrid Bergman, is not an exception. It looks fabulous on Blu-ray. Buy with confidence, folks. VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.
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Autumn Sonata Blu-ray, News and Updates
• Criterion Announces September Titles - June 17, 2013
The Criterion Collection has announced seven titles for Blu-ray release in September. On September 10th, the studio will release Edouard Molinaro's La Cage aux Folles and Martin Ritt's The Spy Who Came in from the Cold. On September 17th, the studio will release ...
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