An old doctor (a magnificent performance by Victor Sjostrom) takes a
car trip to receive an award for 50 years in medicine, accompanied by
his daughter in law, and some teenage hitchhikers they pick up.
He is tormented by highly symbolic dreams (beautifully done), and by
the realization he has kept himself at an emotional distance from
others and the world, and now his life is racing towards it's end.
Quite moving in spots, but somehow never ended up with as much power as
Two critics' notes made sense to me. One said that, for as great and
transparent as Sjostrom's performance is, he is so sweet and likable a
presence it's hard to reconcile him with a man his daughter in law
openly admits she doesn't like because of his cold nature.
The other point - which could also be applied to 'The Seventh Seal' is
that the film seems less special today because the stylistic barriers
it broke and the doors it opened (an almost totally subjective film,
dream sequences of depth and meaning, etc) have since become a familiar
part of film grammar. But at the time, this was something new and
brave. Another to re-see.
Note, this is the same excellent transfer as the Criterion disc, but
with less extra features. If your chief concern is for an excellent
looking copy of the film, this can be a very good deal.