Ingmar Bergman Collection - DVD review (4 stars)

The Ingmar Bergman Collection

(18) 2820min (Tartan Video retail)


For a filmmaker who’s recently denounced Godard as a ‘desperate’ bore, Welles as a ‘phoney’ and Antonioni as someone who never learned his craft, Bergman wouldn’t make much of a critic. But how does he compete with the people he condemns? This thirty-film box set puts Bergman under the harsh spotlight of a pretty hefty retrospective and, of course, while his comments on fellow auteurs don’t much hold up, his own films undeniably do. From the masterly pessimism of Winter Light, which crams a life of spiritual pain chiefly into an afternoon, to the essential two-hander, Persona, which no less successfully microcosms the crisis of self and other, Bergman manages to master his craft and offer up his own perspective on the world.

Whether working in monochrome (pretty much up to the end of the 60s), or vividly, expressionistically in colour (The Passion of Anna and Cries and Whispers), Bergman’s visual schema suggests an intense preoccupation with his own artistic vision and yet at the same time he clearly possesses a worldview. A film like Autumn Sonata is a character-stripping chamber piece that only Bergman could have made; but it also has much to say about any mother/daughter relationship. And what are we to make of one of the real discoveries on this DVD, FaroDokument? Here Bergman’s documentarily explores the tiny island on which he lived, interviewing numerous locals and fretting about the island lifestyle giving way to the depletion of the sea’s resources, unthinking tourists and to a sense that life is going on somewhere else This is about Faro, but it could easily encapsulate most northern islands and many a southern one too. Once again Bergman achieves the universal out of the specific. Extras include a 64 page booklet by David Parkinson.

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