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Classic Bergman Collection(1946-1958)
No synopsis for Classic Bergman Collection.
For more about Classic Bergman Collection and the Classic Bergman Collection Blu-ray release, see Classic Bergman Collection Blu-ray Review published by Dr. Svet Atanasov on June 7, 2012 where this Blu-ray release scored 4.0 out of 5.
Starring: Gunnar Björnstrand, Åke Fridell, Harriet Andersson, Eva Dahlbeck, Birger Malmsten, Douglas Håge
Director: Ingmar Bergman
This Blu-ray bundle includes the following titles, see individual titles for specs and details:
Classic Bergman Collection Blu-ray Review
Reviewed by Dr. Svet Atanasov, June 7, 2012
Ingmar Bergman's "Det regnar på vår kärlek" a.k.a "It Rains on Our Love" (1946), "Skepp till India land" a.k.a "A Ship Bound for India" (1947), "Gycklarnas afton" a.k.a "Sawdust and Tinsel" (1953), "Kvinnodröm" a.k.a "Dreams" (1955), and "Nära livet" a.k.a "So Close to Life" (1958) arrive on Blu-ray courtesy of British distributors Artificial Eye. The supplemental features offered with these films include two video interviews with various actors who worked with the Swedish director. In Swedish, with optional English subtitles for each film. Region-B "locked".
It Rains on Our Love
Shortly after she misses her train, Maggi (Barbro Kollberg) meets David (Birger Malmsten). They talk and then spent the night together in a cheap hotel. On the following day, they wander around and talk some more. When it begins to rain, they hide in a small cabin far away from the train station. Eventually, the two strangers share their secrets – Maggi is pregnant and unsure what to do, while David has just been released from prison.
In the days that follow, Maggi and David realize that they have fallen in love and decide to start a family. Around the same time, an old man knocks on their door and asks that they pay him rent if they wish to live in his cabin. When David agrees, the old man nonchalantly mentions that the cabin is also for sale. David and Maggi try hard to be good members of their community but soon realize that rebuilding their lives might be an impossible task.
Ingmar Bergman's second feature film tells a wonderful story about two strangers who connect and learn a lot about the prejudices of their countrymen. Its observations about life and the price of freedom are simple and honest. Excluding the short trial during which David attempts to defend himself where a few banal political statements are delivered, the rest of the film is wonderfully realized.
The two leads are excellent. Kollberg earns the viewer's sympathy with an authoritative and free of melodrama performance. Malmsten is also credible as the determined to defend the woman he loves ex-prisoner.
A Ship Bound for India
After seven years of traveling the world, sailor Johannes Blom (Birger Malmsten) returns home. While wandering around, Johannes meets an old friend (Hjördis Petterson) and she invites him for a cup of coffee. At her place, he meets Sally (Gertrud Fridh), a beautiful dancer he once loved who has lost her passion for life. They try to talk but can't find the right words to express how they feel. He leaves and ends up at a remote beach where he recalls what took place seven years earlier.
The past. Captain Alexander (Holger Löwenadler), Johannes' rude and constantly drunk father, is told that he has only a few months, possibly a year, left before he goes blind. Having lived in poverty his entire life, Alexander decides to travel the world with Sally, a beautiful dancer whom he has recently met. But when Sally meets Johannes, Alexander is forced to change his travel plans.
Based on a play by Martin Söderhjelm, A Ship Bound for India is a beautiful but unusually cold film. Alexander and Johannes have both suffered tremendously and come to realize that their anger is destroying them from the inside out. Both drink heavily to suppress it and numb the pain.
Sally brings hope into their lives – at least temporarily. Her arrival also reveals why they are angry. One of them is seen in a slightly more positive light, but ultimately both make terrible mistakes and hurt each other in a way that makes it incredibly difficult to embrace them. It is a Greek tragedy, Swedish style.
A Ship Bound for India was Bergman's third feature film, but the first to be screened in the United States, in 1949.
Sawdust and Tinsel
Aging and grumpy circus owner Albert Johansson (Ake Grönberg) arrives with his troupe in a small town somewhere in the Swedish countryside. Many years ago this was the place where Albert fell in love with a beautiful woman (Annika Tretow), and started a family with her. Then he left her with their children, hurt and penniless.
Now Albert has Anne (Harriet Andersson), a beautiful and much younger than him actress who still believes that the best is yet to come. Anne is seriously concerned that Albert is planning to visit his wife, and warns him that if he does she would walk away from him.
Despite Anne's warning Albert sees his wife. They talk about the past, the present and how their lives have changed since they parted ways. Tired of the circus, life on the road and his mistress, Albert asks his wife if she would be willing to take him back and let him watch their children grow. The answer is negative because she has moved on and rebuilt her life with a different man.
Meanwhile, the angry Anne meets Frans (Hasse Eckman), a suave local actor who convinces her that if she makes love to him he will be willing to help her with her career.
From the five films included in this collection, Sawdust and Tinsel is the darkest and most pessimistic one. Portions of it remind about Fellini's films, but here the bizarre and surreal that make the Italian director's films so fascinating to behold are simply missing. Bergman's characters are real people with real dilemmas living in world without miracles.
The discussions in the film are focused on love and happiness, but both are missing from the lives of the main characters. Albert has come to realize that his life would have been a lot simpler and more satisfying had he stayed with his wife, which is why when they meet he begs her to take him back. But he does not love her; he simply wants the comfort and stability of her life. Anne lives with Albert but also does not love him. She needs someone to balance her life. And as soon as this balance is disrupted, she becomes an easy prey for the lecherous actor Frans.
The cast is spectacular, with Grönberg in particular looking very impressive as the aging ring master. Andersson, who would appear in a number of Bergman's best films, is also terrific as the naïve and brittle young actress.
Sawdust and Tinsel was the first film the great Swedish cinematographer Sven Nykvist lensed for Bergman.
The film tells the story of three people whose dreams come true – temporarily. The first is fashion photographer Susanne (Eva Dahlbeck), who longs for her former lover Henrik (Ulf Palme). When an opportunity arises to do an important photo shoot in Gothenburg, where Henrik now lives with his wife, Susanne convinces herself that she could rekindle their affair.
The second person is Doris (Harriet Andersson), a young, beautiful and very naïve model who works for Susanne. Doris is in a relationship with a man (Sven Lindberg) she loves but does not always understand. As a result, lately she has been more passionate about her career. She hopes that the important photo shoot could be the beginning of something special.
The third person is a well respect consul (Gunnar Björnstrand) who lives alone in his lavish home in Gothenburg. He is occasionally visited by his estranged daughter (Kerstin Hedeby-Pawlo), who loves reminding him about his seriously ill wife (who has been in a mental institution for years) and asking for money.
Susanne and Henrik meet in the same hotel in Gothenburg where they once made plans for the future. They talk and Susanne realizes that Henrik is not the man she left behind. Meanwhile, while looking at a beautiful dress in an expensive boutique, Doris is approached by an elderly gentleman who offers to buy it for her. When she reluctantly agrees, he invites her to his impeccable but lonely home.
Dreams is a straightforward film that lacks the depth of Bergman's best work. The conflicts in it are simple and their resolutions predictable. The soul-searching many of Bergman's most memorable characters struggle with is also missing.
Nevertheless, the film maintains a good atmosphere. There is some tension in the short relationship between Doris and the consul which Bergman controls well. Unfortunately, the consul turns out to be the more interesting character but is quickly pulled out of the film. On the other hand, Susanne undergoes a predictable character transformation that does little to make the film more appealing.
Despite the weak script, the cast is excellent. Björnstrand plays the lonely consul to perfection, especially before he is confronted by his daughter. Rather surprisingly, however, the true star of the film is the elegant Dahlbeck, who longs for a lover that exists only in her dreams.
So Close to Life
The fifth and final film in the collection is also the best one. It follows three pregnant women who share the same hospital room. A hemorrhage causes the first woman, Cecilia (Ingrid Thulin), to reevaluate her relationship with her husband (Erland Josephson). The second, Stina (Eva Dahlbeck), cannot wait to become a mother. The third, Hjördis (Bibi Andersson), is a single woman who has had an abortion before and is now considering a second one.
Practically the entire film takes place within the confines of the hospital and feels like an elaborate theater play. The camera carefully observes the three women as they struggle with different feelings and emotions and eventually come to realize the same thing – with or without the support of the men in their lives the women are alone and responsible for important decisions that will have profound effects on their lives.
The film is guaranteed to resonate differently with men and women. It is hard to imagine that a man could even begin to understand the type of feelings and emotions the three women experience; there is an intimate feeling of responsibility, for instance, which only a pregnant woman could experience. It cannot be accurately described, or invoked, but Bergman comes impressively close to accomplishing precisely that.
Classic Bergman Collection Blu-ray, Video Quality
Encoded with MPEG-4 AVC and granted 1080p transfers, the five films in the Classic Bergman Collection arrive on Blu-ray courtesy of British distributors Artificial Eye.
The screencaptures included with our review appear in the following order:
1. It Rains on Our Love: 1-7.
2. A Ship Bound for India: 8-17.
3. Sawdust and Tinsel: 18-28.
4. Dreams: 29-34.
5. So Close to Life: 35-39.
It Rains on Our Love - there are no traces of problematic lab tinkering (sharpening, degraining, etc). Naturally, detail and clarity are very good. Excluding a few relatively small fluctuations, contrast is also stable. Color grading is convincing - the blacks look rich but never boosted, while the whites and grays compliment each other. Grain is visible throughout the entire film. This being said, there are frame skips and a few warps. Some damage marks and scratches also pop up here and there. Nevertheless, this raw high-definition transfer is far more preferable than a tweaked one where the film does not look like a film. All in all, this is a surprisingly good presentation that should please fans of this very early Bergman film.
A Ship Bound for India - the high-definition transfer again conveys wonderful organic qualities. This isn't to say that it is flawless, but the positives most definitely outnumber the negatives. First, there are no traces of compromising post-production corrections - sharpening, degraining, contrast boosting, etc. Predictably, when projected A Ship Bound for India conveys good depth and at times even plenty of fluidity (see screencaptures #10-16). Light grain is also noticeable throughout the entire film. Second, color grading is convincing, though there are a couple of sequences where the whites look a bit subdued. Nevertheless, color balance does not disappoint. Lastly, some light wear marks as well as edge shimmer occasionally pop up, but there are no serious stability issues. There are no major banding or aliasing issues either. To sum it all up, the film has a raw, quite pleasing look.
Sawdust and Tinsel - this very well known Bergman film has the most problematic look. The high-definition transfer has a layer of light electronic noise which is mixed with the grain. It appears that sharpness levels have been slightly elevated as well. As a result, selected close-ups could have a harsh digital look (see screencaptures #20-26). Fortunately, traces of edge-enhancement are nowhere to be seen. So, when one projects the film, the noise isn't always distracting. Again, there are some small scratches and debris, even a few vertical lines, but no large damage marks, serious splices and warps.
Dreams - the quality of the presentation at times rivals Criterion's treatments of selected Bergman films. Detail is wonderful, clarity levels outstanding, and contrast stable throughout the entire film. Selected close-ups also convey tremendous depth (see screencaptures #31 and 32). The best news, however, is that there are no traces of compromising post-production corrections (there isn't even a whiff of edge enhancement). Naturally, there is a layer of light, well resolved grain throughout the entire film. This being said, once again there are minor age-related issues, such as occasional frame skips, flecks and tiny scratches popping up here and there, but there is absolutely nothing that will affect negatively your viewing experience. All in all, in my opinion Dreams is undoubtedly the best looking film in the collection.
So Close to Life - the high-definition transfer is strong. The film is comprised of various close-ups and practically all of them look great - depth and detail, in particular, are very good. Clarity is also excellent and there are no serious contrast fluctuations. Traces of edge-enhancement are nowhere to be seen. Problematic degraining corrections have not been performed either. Unsurprisingly, the film has a convincing organic look. Also, aside from some extremely mild edge shimmer (see 00:14:03), there are no serious stability issues to report in this review.
Despite some minor age-related limitations, as well as the few corrections affecting Sawdust and Tinsel, the five films in the Classic Bergman Collection have unquestionably benefited from their transition to Blu-ray. It Rains on Our Love and especially Dreams look very good when projected. If Artificial Eye could secure more transfers for early Bergman films that look as raw and unmanipulated as the ones used for this collection, they could make a lot of Bergman and classic European cinema fans very happy. Buy with confidence. This box set is well worth owning.
Note: All five Blu-ray discs in the Classic Bergman Collection are Region-B "locked". Therefore, you must have a native Region-B or Region-Free PS3 or SA in order to access their content.
Classic Bergman Collection Blu-ray, Audio Quality
Each of the five films in the Classic Bergman Collection arrives with a standard Swedish LPCM 2.0 track. For the record, Artificial Eye have provided optional English subtitles for each film.
There is no evidence that restoration work has been performed on any of the five films in the collection. Unsurprisingly, light background hiss and occasionally a few pops could be heard. This being said, the dialog in all five films is surprisingly stable and easy to follow. More importantly, however, there are no serious distortions or dropouts to report in this review. So, while some of the hiss and pops likely would have been removed if each film underwent full-blown restoration, there really is absolutely nothing concerning with the five lossless tracks. For the record, the English translation is excellent.
Classic Bergman Collection Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Classic Bergman Collection Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
This wonderful collection of early Ingmar Bergman films is coming out at the right time - it is an excellent companion piece to the two recent Criterion releases of the Swedish director's Summer with Monika and Summer Interlude. I hope it is successful so that we could see a second box set. Buy with confidence, folks. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.
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Classic Bergman Collection Blu-ray, News and Updates
• Classic Bergman Collection Blu-ray - January 25, 2012
Independent British distributors Artificial Eye have revealed that they are planning to release a box set with five films by legendary Swedish director Ingmar Bergman: It Rains On Our Love (1946), A Ship Bound For India (1947), Sawdust And Tinsel (1953), Dreams ...
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