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on 20 December 2012
These early Bergman movies are of sheer beauty. Thanks to these nice people at Artificial Eye. For me this is the best Blu-Ray release of 2012. Bergman is a true breathtaking story teller. All five a joy to watch.
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on 1 November 2014
"Sawdust and Tinsel" deserves to be remembered as one of Bergman's best films, in my opinion.

Like with most Bergman films, it engenders a hostile response from most who see it, stirring up a diabolical concoction of the kind of emotions and impulses Bergman mercilessly exposed in his films. Bergman's best films allows us to see, as if in a mirror, all those aspects of our humanity we labor diligently to conceal from ourselves, because we prefer instead to luxuriate subconsciously in our own evil and corruption whilst consciously lulling our conscience to sleep with illusions of our supposed prelapsarian innocence. Hollywood cinema is largely so popular because it accommodates our desire to see ourselves as better than we are. Filmmakers who refuse to accommodate this desire, and who hold up a mirror to man's shadow, will always be rewarded with little more than the vituperation of the masses.

The film is remarkable for its vision of life as an orgy of symbolic cannibalism. The circus troupe in the film has been reduced to little more than a spectacle for the sinister amusement of a many-headed monster.

The society depicted in the film is little more than a gallery of grotesques, all of them in confederacy against anyone who deviates from the norm.

The opening sequence is remarkable, establishing the themes that would be further elaborated upon throughout the film, perfectly setting the tone for its vision of life as a humiliating slog, and something of a sacrificial orgy. The clown Frost is publicly humiliated, assailed on all sides by the mercilessly jeers of the mob. The image of a suffering human being mercilessly exposed to the elements was common in Bergman's work, though it was rarely used to quite such devastating effect as it was here, with Frost struggling up the rocky incline, his posture bowed under the weight of his wife, the sun beating down implacably upon his head. In its imagery, it alludes to Christ's journey to Golgotha.

The film also emphasizes the cyclical pattern of existence. The twenty-four hour cycle within which the narrative takes place suggests this. As in the film, life humiliates and exhausts you, which is followed by the process of regeneration, and then the cycle repeats itself, until one day death mercifully intervenes.

It's a brilliant film, and quite unique for a Bergman film from the fifties. Most Bergman films from this era had a contrapuntal texture. They were mostly made up of contrasting characters, attitudes, ideas and images, seamlessly interwoven. In this film, although it lacks the concentrated bleakness of his later work, there is very much a preponderance of negativity, no bad thing sometimes.

Some may find the vision too pessimistic, but that all depends on whether or not you see the film as implying a vision of something better. The most pessimistic art is that which merely panders to the base appetites, desires and inclinations of the mob, and does not aspire to edify its audience, whereas films like this I would describe as optimistic in that they make us feel ashamed about the way we often behave, and within this shame is contained the possibility of a better future, because it is through shame that we become better people, and there's no artist who can compare to Ingmar Bergman in making us feel thoroughly ashamed of ourselves!
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on 16 June 2014
The title 'Classic Bergman' is a misnomer - this Artificial Eye box set is actually a more or less random selection of 5 early / minor Bergman films on 5 discs. Only one film - Sawdust & Tinsel - could really be considered `classic'. Nonetheless, now the price has come down to around £20 (when I purchased it in 2013) this box set is a useful way to fill some gaps in your collection if you are a big Bergman fan.
Bergman's early filmography is a bit confusing but, according to the box notes, disc one IT RAINS ON OUR LOVE (1946) was Bergman's second film. Like most of his early films it is a romantic melodrama about a young couple from the wrong side of the tracks rebelling against an oppressive society and its bourgeois morality. As a representation of proletarian youth it's not too convincing but it is a very watchable film, with quite a few Bergmanesque touches, including an arch narrator who pops up now & then to comment on the plot and then turns out to be a character (of sorts) in the story.
Disc two is another early `apprentice' film A SHIP BOUND FOR INDIA (1947) - a convoluted melodrama about a down-at-heel sailor family trying to salvage a wrecked boat. It resembles Hollywood B movies of the time - except Bergman throws in some Oedipal psychodrama to spice things up. Lots of interesting cinematography, as if Bergman was trying things out, learning his craft.
For disc three we jump several years & several films for SAWDUST & TINSEL (1953) the tale of a struggling circus troupe. By this time Bergman had indeed learnt his craft - it is a very accomplished film with a great cast firing on all cylinders. Lots of memorable scenes, including the famous opening with Frost the clown clambering over the rocks. Like a lot of Bergman's early films, it looks back to the old expressionist silent cinema. But it also looks ahead to Bergman's own later films like Seventh Seal.
It's another quite big jump to Disc Four DREAMS aka journey into Autumn (1955) by which time Bergman had found his main signature style - contemporary psychological / existentialist chamber drama, usually centred around women. Dreams is about two women in the cosmopolitan fashion world who find their romantic adventures are just bitter illusions. It's a very typical Bergman film, but perhaps a little too schematic & formulaic - certainly not as good as later films of this type such as The Silence or Persona. But it's one of the better films in this box set and has an outstanding performance from Eva Dahlbeck.
The fifth and final disc is SO CLOSE TO LIFE (1958) set in a maternity ward and about 3 women's different attitudes to, and experiences of, childbirth. This film represents another big jump - into the period when Bergman's reputation and powers were at their height (made same year as Seventh Seal & Wild Strawberries!). This film was greeted as another groundbreaking masterpiece, but its reputation has declined and it is admittedly rather dated, striking more than a few false notes. I'd also say that Eva Dahlbeck & Bibi Anderson are miscast, while Ingrid Thulin already seems to be rehearsing for The Silence. Flawed but still an intense watch - on no account see this film with anyone who is pregnant!
Overall, then, this box set is pretty mixed (& not much in the way of extras, just a couple of less than insightful `interview with actors' films) but worth grabbing if you are a long time Bergman aficionado.
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on 12 June 2012
Finally, after a months waiting, the product is released. The problem with Artificial Eye is that they can't keep up the release dates and keep postponing. This time they did a far better job with these 5 films from the Swedish master, Ingmar Bergman, than they did with Mizoguchi Collection. 4 of the five films are here for the first time and the HD transfer is complimentary to the director. One must admit that anyhow the films made by Bergman are in a far better state than the ones of Mizoguchi and probably to master the image and sound was way easier. Anyhow, to come back to the movies. The five are spread over a period of 12 years from the beginning of his career as film director. As one can expect out of such art-house movies, they are not meant for anybody. The level or artistic achievement and drama is the usual Bergman style. The humor within his movies is somehow present in small portions or larger ones and makes out of the final films delights. I won't spoil the subjects of these movies, but I will only add that the package is beautifully crafted and there are two special documentaries on two of the discs. I've paid a very attractive price as I ordered it through Amazon's pre-order option. It is so worth the buy!
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on 19 April 2016
Great package at a great price.
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on 19 March 2016
Simply outstanding!
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on 15 August 2013
Thanks for let purchase this item and add it to my collection it was a very unlike find thank you very much
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