Directed by Ingmar BergmanSweden | 1963
The Silence doesn’t have a narrative form so much as an obscure musical pattern, which at a concise 92 minutes feels like a winding slow-burn towards a pensive climax. Bergman maps out the separate journeys of the three characters in this foreign land of “Tivoli”, a fictional town where the inhabitants speak an inscrutable language and go about their daily activities with mechanical precision. It’s logical to assume that the journey of each character is meant to intersect in some way, at least metaphorically, but Bergman keeps them self-contained, providing no recognizable motif with which to connect them. Instead, they’re arranged in counterpoint to one another in an almost free-associative manner.
Directed by Peter FlinthSweden | 2007
Director Peter Flinth and cinematographer Erik Kress do some amazing things making dreary skies, woods, and stone look more full of life than waning legend Ridley Scott did in last year’s ill-conceived Robin Hood update. Flinth and Kress never fail to evoke their ever-changing tones, switching up tender romance to the quiet menace of jealousy and betrayal to the dread of citizen soldiers squaring off against a seasoned army for the first (and last) time.
Directed by Lukas MoodyssonSweden, Denmark | 2004
[Moodysson’s] attempts to question “reality” on film is hinged entirely on an unqualified presumption of gonzo aesthetics being closer to truth or allowing for more insight than other, perhaps more traditional, means. Fundamentally there’s no reason within A Hole in My Heart to buy into Moodysson’s perceptions and there’s no denying that his film is no more or less fabrication than anything that preceded it. It does successfully highlight issues of perception but largely stumbles into the same potholes as that which it seeks to criticise – to use a rough analogy of road signs, A Hole in My Heart is a little like a protest sign noting a lack of warning for a dangerous bend that’s been placed in front of and obscures the actual sign warning of that bend.
Directed by Andrei TarkovskySweden, United Kingdom, France | 1986
The Sacrifice is not afraid to risk absurdity itself in the radical nature of its structure – long slabs of real time combined with elusive, dreamlike montage – or in the extremity of its content, making it, and its creator, analogous to the central figure, a man doggedly tied to religious piety and opposed to modernistic tendencies. Somehow, the film’s most wayward ideas, spawned from lofty concepts about the limits of faith and reason, like the virtual reprise of a scene of levitation in The Mirror or the ten-minute-long house-burning sequence, a combination of cinematic grandiosity and improvisational vérité, work in the context of Tarkovsky’s consuming seriousness.
Directed by Anton CorbijnUnited States | 2010
Characters and settings are introduced like musical themes; Corbijn uses subtle repetitions to give them weight and to give the viewer the sense that the story is going somewhere even when it isn’t so obvious… If you look for them, the film is dominated by repetitions, most slightly reconfigured with each iteration. It lends a hallucinatory quality to events which may seem rather ordinary given the extraordinariness that films usually attach to spy intrigues.
Directed by Lukas MoodyssonSweden, Denmark | 2002
Moodysson’s talent for instantly humanizing his characters is apparent from the get-go. Like the two girls in Åmål or the entire cast in Together, Lilya feels like an utterly genuine, 3-dimensional human being throughout. Many directors can feign naturalism with faux-documentary style film-making and faux-improvised acting, but often it just serves to highlight the artifice behind the production. Moodysson, even though he also uses the hand-held camera and improvisational techniques himself, realizes that the real truth doesn’t come from any quasi-realism, but from the core of the characters as portrayed by the actors.
Directed by Ingmar BergmanSweden | 1966
The film borrows bits and pieces from the entire period that precedes it, taking the milieu of Glass Darkly and the suggestion of insanity, the epistolary laden motif of Winter Light and the female/female relationship of The Silence. But Persona also piles on a multitude of levels, including the element of modernistic, cinematic self-awareness, that metafictional recognition of the director pulling the strings. It also adds glimpses of an outside world that Bergman largely ignored in his preceding trilogy, namely images from the on-going Vietnam war.
Directed by Ingmar BergmanSweden | 1963
The language barrier shapes all discourse in the film. In this world there is an unavoidable silence between the protagonists and all those around them. Words have little power and they are a scarcity throughout. Gesture and props might allow them some function in communicating with the locals but no true connection can be forged, not even as Anna finds some manner of sexual solace with a waiter (Birger Malmsten) she meets nearby. The sex, though fevered and shrouded in erotic shadow, is nonetheless anonymous and ungratifying.
Directed by Ingmar BergmanSweden | 1960
This culminates in the final scene which faithfully represents the original fable’s religious elements but, thanks to the director’s careful moulding, comes also with a newly formed bitter irony. The film’s world is one untouched by God. In it religion merely offers vindication and structure for realities shaped purely by pragmatism, privilege, need and deprivation. Religious devotion shapes only the perception of events, not the events themselves and so, like the ‘witch’ of Dreyer’s film, the inhabitants here become slaves to their own blinkered perception.