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on 2 December 2014
loved the film and the acting is superb.. Ingrid Bergman- what a star lady
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on 19 May 2003
While some of Ingmar Bergman's actors consistently gave great performances over a number of films, the greatest one-off performance in a film of his is that of his namesake, Ingrid, in this, her last film before she died of cancer.
Well into her seventh decade, Ingrid Bergman's beauty as an aging concert pianist, Charlotte, is striking, especially in contrast with her daughter played by Liv Ullman. Ullman's astonishingly attractive looks (which dominate such classics as "Persona" "The Passion of Anna" "Cries and Whispers" and "Scenes from a Marriage") are convincingly masked by the dowdy attire, owlish glasses and prissy manner which give great credibility to her depiction of a priest's wife, unloved by and resentful of her mother.
Unique among Ingmar Bergman's films, the principal relationship under examination is that of mother and daughter. The closest film in this respect is "Cries and Whispers" but there the presence and unflattering characterisation of the mother is principally designed to informs the tortured relationship between the sisters Agnes, Maria and Karin as we see the similarities between Maria and her mother. Although "Autumn Sonata" touches on many of Bergman's favourite themes, the mother and daughter angle gives a freshness to the film and makes the quality of the acting all the more treasurable.
"Autumn Sonata" tends to be forgotten in comparison with Bergman's other late period works, both those made in exile from Sweden and those made before such as "Cries and Whispers" and the trimphant home-coming "Fanny and Alexander" both of which richly deserved Oscars.
Although "Autumn Sonata" is not as technically adventurous or as stunning visually as others, Ingrid Bergman deserved more than the Oscar nomination she received and the awards bestowed upon the film as a whole were richly deserved. Furthermore, the use of the Chopin prelude, in revealing Charlotte's personality is perhaps the most successful use of music in Bergman's directing history.
The extras are spare as one has come to expect from Tartan. Best is the original trailer which manages to capture the film's essence without being sensationalist or sentimental.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 22 May 2012
While I remembered this as an unalloyed masterpiece from seeing it in the theater on first release,
I had a few small problems re-seeing it 32 years later.

But, in the end, it is a remarkable film, featuring two amazing performances from Liv Ullman and
Ingrid Bergman as a mother and daughter desperately hashing out old wounds during a visit paid
by the mother, a famous pianist and cold perfectionist. Meanwhile her daughter has clung to old
hurts to the point of self-paralysis.

A moving testament to the need for forgiveness and growth.

But some of the peripheral story elements feel a bit tacked on, and to perhaps stack the deck too
easily to one side, particularly a sickly younger sister that Bergman's character can barely deal with.
It's a minor flaw, since the power of the key confrontations carries the film to the heights (and depths).

But I couldn't help wishing Bergman had trusted us a bit more to work out our own feelings about
two complex characters, as he did with the even more brilliant `Scenes From a Marriage'.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 21 April 2014
This film has not aged well. The performances are all superb and Ingmar Bergman's evocation of the autumn conflict between mother and daughter has a formal visual elegance and interesting script but for me, at least, it does not pack the emotional punch it did on it's initial release. At 90 minutes it does feel very long. However on the positive side Ingrid Bergman does give one of her best performances and the English dub is a case study of how such things should be done - but the overall impact just falls short of what it once was. Be aware that this solid (and expensive) Criterion blu ray transfer is region A locked - so you will need a multi-region blu ray to play it in the UK.
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Autumn Sonata is the Bergman film I get the most out of, and I am always moved by the long nocturnal confrontation between mother and daughter that strikes me as the most memorable utterance of suffering and its build-up in all cinema. How Liv Ullman sustains it as she does, with such unbearable plangency in her voice, is belief-defying, and one cannot but be marked by it. Because it is psychological, I find it easier to watch than the extremes of physical suffering Bergman subjects us to in The Silence or Cries and Whispers. I also like the concentration on the two faces, which complement each other so well, and find the use of colour a joy, bringing out the mature beauty of Ingrid Bergman in a most striking way. She had one of those faces that seems illuminated from within, and almost handsome, especially in later years, a quality which emerged out of the extraordinary beauty and purity of her face in youth. Remarkably, it doesn't seem diminished in any way in relation to how she looked in, say, Casablanca. Of course she is the villain of the piece, fairly unambiguously, and the whole film stands as a study of what neglect does to a person, especially a child. You feel the daughter has remained stunted, in a sense, by the lack of love, that she can never quite get into a sense of living in the first degree, for all that she has a very attentive and understanding husband. Ironically, the mother's looks are really neither here nor there, except as a symbol of her exceptional nature. The acting of both actresses is, of course, on the highest level, and the scene on the Chopin prelude stands out both for its musical and psychological insight, showing unconscious cruelty in the most succinct way. It really is fantastic. My only reservation is with the presence of the handicapped sister in the house, which cranked up the tensions and guilt even further and was perhaps a confrontation too far for me, but at least it made it clear that Bergman was at the helm! Aside from this it is a searing portrait of a far from perfect relationship, which, as so often in life, doesn't seem likely to resolve itself all that much in the future.
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on 18 June 2017
Late(ish) brilliance.
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on 7 November 2014
I think I can say that I have seen almost all of Bergman's films. This is my absolute favourite. Ingrid Bergman should only make one more Movie (about Golda Meir) and during this filming she was already mortally sick. She makes one of her greatest perfomances and Liv Ullman too. This is a deeply gripping drama. I have seen it many times and I will see it again an again. It's a great masterwork. I wrote to Bergman and thanked him. The late Lena Nyman, very famous in Sweden is very good, too.
The music by Frédéric Chopin, Georg Friedrich Händel, Johann Sebastian Bach is played by famous Swedish pianist Käbi Laretei, once Ingmar Bergman's wife.
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on 21 November 2011
Widely regarded as one of Ingmar Bergmans most powerful films, Autumn Sonata tells the story of renowned pianist Charlotte (Ingrid Bergman), who is invited to visit her daughter Eva (Liv Ullmann), after not seeing her for a very long time. When she arrives, she is surprised to see that her other daughter, Helena (Lena Nyman), is no longer living at a mental institution and is now under the care of Eva.

During the night, Charlotte and Eva spill out their feelings towards one another. The later it becomes, the more emotional they become, letting out anger, that has long been bottled up. Charlotte, who chose her career over the duties of being a mother, is forced to reconsider her life choices and think of the damage she had caused, from her utter indifference to her family's needs.

Ingmar Bergman brilliantly conveys troubled and dysfunctional families, most probably due to his difficult upbringing by his abusive father. This film has similarities with Cries and Whispers, but is also completely different. In Cries and Whispers, you see the emotions of the characters individually, only sharing with one another (for a short amount of time), right near the end and they almost immediately draw back. In Autumn Sonata, the characters share almost all the way through the film. It portrays the emotions, so that we, the audience feel more engaged with the characters.

One of my personal favorites of (Ingmar) Bergman's films, both Ingrid Bergman and Liv Ullmann are equally incredible as the selfish mother and the emotionally scarred daughter. The brilliant screenplay, beautiful cinematography and astounding acting, makes this a disturbing and thought provoking masterpiece.

Special Features: Star and Director Filmographies, The Bergman Collection Trailer, Philip Strick Film Notes.

Video Aspect Ratio: 1.66:1
Feature Length: 90 mins
Language: Swedish, with a small amount of English
Subtitles: English
Certificate: 15
Region 0
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on 12 December 2007
Autumn Sonata is a great psychological study of a dysfunctional relationship between a self-absorbed mother and her two daughters, as well as the devastating damage inflicted by her negligent parenting.

Bergman makes a convincing case that achieving one's true happiness - that Aristotelian ideal of human perfection - is not to be achieved through focusing exclusively on one's own needs and wants.

The relationship between parents and their children can go very wrong, even tragically wrong. There is, indeed, such a thing as poor parenting. How sad and how unfair that it is the children who often pay the heaviest price for the wrongdoings of their own parents.

The acting, script, directing, and cinematography in this film are all superb.
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on 16 July 2003
Well, I adore Bergman. He knows how to work with colors. The movie is overwhelmed with tones of brown and yellow emphasizing the season. (remember Cries and Whispers' red tones)However it is not just an autumn of a certain year, no; the autumn of the lives. You expect to witness a nostalgic conversation, however are shaken with a severe confrontation of two leading characters about the past acts. (sins ?) Very brief flashbacks, static camera with fabulous art direction has created a masterpiece, that is worth to view again and again. Liv Ullman's performance was notable, I should say: a benchmark for actors and actresses which is not exceeded till now yet.
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