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  • Criterion Collection: Magician [Blu-ray] [US Import]
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Criterion Collection: Magician [Blu-ray] [US Import]


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Product details

  • Actors: Gunnar Bjornstrand, Max Von Sydow
  • Directors: Ingmar Bergman
  • Format: Special Edition, Subtitled
  • Language: Swedish
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region A/1 (Read more about DVD/Blu-ray formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 4:3 - 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Classification: NR (Not Rated) (US MPAA rating. See details.)
  • Studio: Criterion
  • DVD Release Date: 12 Oct. 2010
  • Run Time: 101 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B003WKL6Y4
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 162,094 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)

Reviews

From Amazon.co.uk

A sort of existential horror movie set in what often feels like a darkly imaginary 1846, The Magician is Ingmar Bergman's meditation on the restrictive nature of modern rationalism. Max Von Sydow cuts a suitably melancholy and mystical figure as Dr Vogler, the mute hypnotist who travels with a group of players to Stockholm, only to be examined and humiliated by a team of sceptical inquisitors led by Gunnar Bjornstrand's Dr Vergerus and a hog-like police chief. Dr Vogler exacts his revenge on Vergerus, however, in an extraordinary feat of illusion.

With its elaborate, occasionally expressionistic sets and its feel of a scrupulously re-enacted nightmare, The Magician is reminiscent at times of Poe or even The Cabinet of Dr Caligari. However, the "below stairs" characters--including Ake Fridell's ebullient Master of Ceremonies and a host of giggling wenches--add comic energy to what is otherwise a startling and sombre reflection of the nature of art and life. It would prove a turning point in Bergman's career as he moved away from his early, "romantic" period.

On the DVD: Presented in the original academy ratio, the mix of soft light and harsh shade for which credit should go to photographer Gunnar Fischer, is well-restored here. In notes from his memoirs included here, Bergman relates how his adventures and privations as part of a theatre company in Malmo provided inspiration for The Magician, while critic Ronald Bergman's notes talk of "the ability of the artist to find truth in both fact and fantasy". --David Stubbs

Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

18 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Colin C on 29 Jun. 2005
Format: DVD
This is an important work in Bergman's filmography, a historically set, metaphorical, theatrical statement before he moved on to the more intimate chamber-films of the 1960s. It would be foolish to make definite statements concerning this film, because it remains mysterious and elusive even after repeated viewing, but central themes would certainly include IB's own personal feelings on being an artist (and an 'outsider'), and fears of being 'exposed' in some way as a charlatan.
'The Magician' doesn't have many slapstick gags or zany one liners, and it retains the doom-laden, oppressive atmosphere of 'The Seventh Seal', so don't come to 'The Magician' if you are in the mood for Chevy Chase. If you are exploring Bergman's work, though, this should be a priority buy, ahead of the minor works of the 40s which Tartan are now releasing, as it is a fascinating and important film. As ever, Max von Sydow is majestic.
I would have preferred to see this released as 'The Face', which is the actual translation of the Swedish title and the proper UK title, rather than the American title Tartan have gone with. This is a minor gripe though and the print of the film is excellent. All in all, highly recommended.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 24 Oct. 2001
Format: VHS Tape
'The Magician' tends to get overlooked, due in part to its proximity to 'The Seventh Seal' and 'Wild Strawberries'. And yet I think it stands the test of time in some ways better than the latter film. While that more famous work contains some rather obvious expressionist symbolism that even in 1957 was seen by some as a little cliched, 'The Magician' has a perfectly rendered expressionist asesthetics that doesn't try too hard to wring existential meaning at every turn, and which instead lets a perfectly wedded narrative and thematic tapestry unfold by way of strikingly wrought images. The setting of those images is also reminiscent of 'Seventh Seal's middle-ages grime as well as its baroque lighting, and 'The Magician' was unfairly compared to that film for these reasons.
But here we have a quite different tale indeed, which quite brilliantly puts both 'superstitious' belief and Enlightenment 'reason' to the test, only to find both are basically a performance - the alpha strut of human mastery over a universe than cannot be known or accounted for by any system, whether made up of old-world 'mumbo jumbo' or the 'objectivity' of science.
The film is probably in part less popular than Bergman's other works of this period because its main characters are rather cold and uninviting. The closest here to Bergman's 1950s life-affirming figure is (again) Bibi Andersson's character, but compared to earlier films she is mainly a playful side-performer in the main game. The spotlight is on more grim figures that don't have the time for her frivolities: Max von Sydow is the magician, and his enigmatic assistant/lover is played by Ingrid Thulin. Together they move like paranoid mannequins or ghosts from another age, acting like they are always under risk of oppression.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By technoguy TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 22 May 2009
Format: DVD
The Magician is a magical early 50's film from Bergman. He opposes to the magic of Vogler's Magnetic Health Theatre, the cold rationalism of Dr. Vergerus and the other government officials, the chief of police and the consul. In 1846 the travelling troupe are on the run and are heavily disguised. Ingrid Thulin acts as a male assistant to her husband Dr. Vogler, who is himself disguised behind a false hair and beard. They have a director of the Co. who sells their act to new customers. The old woman with them, a witch, sells love potions. Is Vogler a charlatan or a man with supernatural powers? Vogler's face in disguise as a mute is messianic. He represents to Vergerus "what cannot be explained". However science can penetrate all mysteries. Vogler and his troupe are submitted to questions in such a humiliating manner to unmask their fraud.

They have been invited to stay at the inn where they are to perform. There are elements of fairy tale and horror show,ghosts, dying and dead actors. In one of the acts the chief of police's wife reveals he's a fraud. Another man, a driver, attempts to kill Vogler to escape his power. Vogler enacts a terrible revenge on Dr. Vergerus. In this little allegory Bergman was drawing on his theatrical experiences: the duality of artists in a closed world of illusions and the ambiguous relationship with the world outside. He had to beguile the audience.Filmic art represented the longing for pure artistry(the dying actor expresses this). Bergman's true target was a film critic married at the time to Thulin. This film is a perfect example of the best of his early work. Von Sydow's illusionist is related to the wordless actress Vogler (L.Ullman ) in Persona.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Spike Owen TOP 500 REVIEWER on 7 Sept. 2011
Format: DVD
Vogler's Magnetic Health Theater rolls into town and is promptly summoned for a meet with the town big wigs. Hoping to expose all involved in the theatre as charlatans, the disbelievers request a personal show before allowing the show to go public. With very interesting results.

There is a belief amongst many Ingmar Begman fans that Ansiktet {The Magician} is far too accessible a piece to be considered one of his greatest pieces. And whilst it does find Bergman more easy to understand for the casual viewer, it's however still complex enough to thrill and niggle the mind in equal measure. Taking two factors that he very much adored, masks and magic, Bergman threads them off into various directions, and in the process testing us the audience as to just what to expect from the story. The mysterious wonder of it all is naturally aided by Bergman's use of light and shadowy trickery, symbols loom heavy without dampening the theme on offer, with nothing of course actually quite being as it seems.

As is normally the case under the master director, the cast are uniform-ally strong. With Gunnar Bjornstrand and Ingrid Thulin particularly standing out. But really this is all about tricks and ideas relating to magic and its blending in with reality. So much so that with the end comes an awakening that we the audience are indeed props in one of Bergman's shows, and that can never be a bad or even an accessible thing.

A fascinating picture from a very fascinating director. 8/10
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