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18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Key Bergman
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...
Published on 29 Jun 2005 by Colin C

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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Icy Swedish horror......
"The Magician" filmed in 1958 is not quite one of the best Bergman films but still manages to shock,enthrall and entertain in equal measure.
Dr Vogler brings his magicians troupe to a small swedish town where he is humilated by smalltown cynics,causing him to perform his greatest deception......
Throughout the picture the genius of Bergman shines through, the...
Published on 30 Jan 2006


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18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Key Bergman, 29 Jun 2005
This review is from: The Magician [DVD] (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
5.0 out of 5 stars Overlooked masterpiece unmasking belief of all kinds, 24 Oct 2001
By A Customer
This review is from: The Magician [VHS] (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. Gunnar Bjornstrand plays the cold voice of Enlightenment reason with excrutiatingly cold visciousness.
The relative sympathy offered to the superstition-peddling duo compared to our secular hero by the film may initially suggest Bergman is clearly rooting for one team. Yet as always, he plays out all the options with devastating severity, offering a complex take on the various conceptual world-views. The reason for the apparent bias, I would argue, is that it assits Bergman to more effectively hilight the devastatingly basic similarity between what we would consider a 'mythically' oriented belief system and a much more 'truth'-related one. By putting our own paradigm so harshly under critical examination, and then its mirror-style comparison with the clearly anachronistic investments of magic, Bergman starts off with a just slightly evened ledger so as to more powerfully challenge the assumptions a modern viewer will usually bring to the film, allowing their initial dismissal of the magician to impact upon a reflexive critique of our modern reason.
Belief - in both its only apparently opposite guises - turns out to be a thin veil behind which lies scared, small humans looking for answers and sureties in a universe which will always deny them. The magician may turn out to be a charlatan, and the interogator may turn out to be a scardy-cat when confronted with the slightest experience that cannot be accounted for by his religion of science.
Hence lies the beauty of the work, one of the finest black comedies ever made, in which so much about humanity's obsession with explanations and fear of openness is beautifully rendered. And the DVD is on its way soon.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Charlatanism and witchery., 22 May 2009
By 
technoguy "jack" (Rugby) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
This review is from: The Magician [DVD] (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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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars "The Magician" on BLU RAY - Compatibility Issues For UK and EUROPEAN Buyers…, 27 Feb 2014
By 
Mark Barry "Mark Barry" (London) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (HALL OF FAME REVIEWER)    (TOP 50 REVIEWER)   
At present this 1955 Black and White Classic is only available on BLU RAY in the States.
But therein lies a problem for UK and European buyers…

The US issue is REGION-A LOCKED - so it WILL NOT PLAY on most UK Blu Ray players unless they're chipped to play 'all' regions (which the vast majority aren't).
Don’t confuse BLU RAY players that have multi-region capability on the 'DVD' front – that won’t help.

Until such time as someone else gives “The Magician” a REGION B and C release – check your BLU RAY player has the capacity to play REGION A – before you fork out for the pricey Criterion issue…
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Icy Swedish horror......, 30 Jan 2006
By A Customer
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This review is from: The Magician [DVD] (DVD)
"The Magician" filmed in 1958 is not quite one of the best Bergman films but still manages to shock,enthrall and entertain in equal measure.
Dr Vogler brings his magicians troupe to a small swedish town where he is humilated by smalltown cynics,causing him to perform his greatest deception......
Throughout the picture the genius of Bergman shines through, the careful interiors, the crackling dialogue(more akin to theatre than film) and the unsettling eerie Nordic mix of fairytale and reality.
In summary this film is all about illusion but is grounded in reality,flights of fancy are not what Bergman is about, his every second is about the human mind,human existence and human reality.
Overall a spell-binding film, the only weaknesses are possibly in the rushed ending. Tartan DVD add directors notes as extras and the overall picture quality is very good
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5.0 out of 5 stars Black comedy with the power to enthrall, 19 Mar 2010
By 
Philoctetes (England) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: The Magician [DVD] (DVD)
Bergman's The Face, to give it its proper name, is a dark comedy with elements of horror and eroticism, reminding you not to peer too closely, not to seek the truth more frightful than illusion. Man lives by illusion, or so it seems. He who is deceived is wiser than he who is not.

Max Von Sydow is far more sympathetic here than in The Hour Of The Wolf, but that is again a part of the deception. His dark hair and beard prefigure, curiously, the same look given to him for The Greatest Story Ever Told. The rest of the cast are all Bergman regulars, and the notes tell of the happy camaraderie of working together intensively as part of a theatrical troupe. The film is not at all sombre, deftly combining playfulness with suffering. Yet it invites you, tantalisingly, to go back to see the good doctor and contemplate the accursed questions of life and death, appearance and reality, again and again - something more earnest and po-faced films would fail to do.

A trace of the uncanny can so often alleviate inhibitions and open the channels of communication. This is Bergman enjoying himself so why not join the fun.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I didn't die, but I haunt the living., 7 Sep 2011
By 
Spike Owen "John Rouse Merriott Chard" (Birmingham, England.) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: The Magician [DVD] (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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3.0 out of 5 stars lost in translation, 12 Dec 2005
This review is from: The Magician [VHS] (VHS Tape)
This is a fine but neglected work by Bergman, the point about what people hide about their beliefs as they express them is well expressed. What is not as helpful is the english subtitles, which are clunky and leave the viewer guessing the vernacular words which would have made the exchanges between the actors sharper and more witty. The other weakness is the similarly loose translation of the notes Bergman provides from his diaries etc. Add to that how they are written in a typescript that is hard to read, against a background that makes it harder then the extras of the package seems less than the sum of their parts, however full they were meant to be.
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4.0 out of 5 stars A really good movie, 9 May 2014
By 
Carlberg Mats (Sweden) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
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This review is from: The Magician [DVD] (DVD)
I have actually not watched the DVD delivered. It is a gift for a friend of mine. i know, however, that it is a damn good movie.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Magical Bergam, 19 Feb 2014
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This review is from: The Magician [DVD] (DVD)
When a magician arrives in a new town he is quizzed by the local authorities, some of whom are deeply skeptical of the 'magic' on show. What follows is a tense and dramatic clash between those who believe in magic and those for whom it is mere slight of hand.

This is Bergman (and Max von Sydow) at their (early) best.
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The Magician [DVD]
The Magician [DVD] by Ingmar Bergman (DVD - 2001)
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