A list of all films associated with the Criterion Collection, including laserdiscs, DVDs, Blu-rays, Essential Arthouse, Eclipse Series, Hulu Plus,…
Ingmar Bergman’s The Magician (Ansiktet) is an engaging, brilliantly conceived tale of deceit from one of cinema’s premier illusionists. Max von Sydow stars as Dr. Vogler, a nineteenth-century traveling mesmerist and peddler of potions whose magic is put to the test in Stockholm by the cruel, eminently rational royal medical adviser Dr. Vergérus. The result is a diabolically clever battle of wits that’s both frightening and funny, shot in rich, gorgeously gothic black and white.
I’ve come to Bergman rather reluctantly. There’s a presupposition that his films are overtly philosophical and full of abstract dialogue that needs to be ‘worked out’ rather than enjoyed. Bergman rivals Kubrick as a director whose films are lumbered with more academic analysis than any creative work should have to bear. In some circles, to name Bergman as a favourite director is to admit you’re so far up your own ass that you can only access movies on a purely intellectual level. Which would make you a pretty sad case.
This movie isn't a chore and I'm going to briefly tell you why without relying on 'interior meanings' or anything that isn't happening immediately on the screen.
Set in the…
The Magician is an interesting story, to say the least. It never quite conforms to one genre, often times feeling like a comedy film, at others a horror film and still others as a straightforward drama. At first this all may be a bit jarring, but eventually it becomes clear that this is no accident. Leave it to the magician himself Ingmar Bergman to make all of these themes meld together to form an endlessly entertaining, impactful film.
The film follows Albert Emanuel Vogler and his traveling "magnetic health theater" as they run from the law and meet up with a group of skeptics. Throughout the film they're forced to perform their…
Bergman has a tremendous amount of fun toying with the audience with this film and it is probably his most purposefully inaccessible work. And it's not even inaccessible to the point where the audience cannot comprehend the plot but that it's impossible to relate or connect with the plot. This is all due to the purposeful ambiguity in the match up that is among Bergman's most famed debates which is the rational versus the inexplicable (science versus supernatural in this case).
The Magician in all, is very underrated in Bergman's oeuvre. This rewatch did not hold up as well as the intoxication of my first viewing which alas was during my cinema birth with Bergman. That's understandable but it is…
Film #15 of The "Cinebro, You Magnificent Bastard" Challenge
Now here's something that you don't see every day: a movie about the open contempt that a director feels for his audience. Well, OK, maybe not his entire audience, but it's pretty clear that "The Magician" has a bone to pick with someone. I've read that Bergman's early international reputation far outstripped his reception at home, and this film feels like his chance to tell his provincial Swedish detractors to go jump in a lake.
Set in nineteenth century Sweden, "The Magician" follows a troupe of vagabond illusionists (led by Max von Sydow) who are brought before a local magistrate to prove the integrity of their act. Once in the hands…
It's the mid-1800s, the magician Vogler with company is traveling through the Swedish forest. They are heading to Stockholm, where Vogler is invited to consult Egerman to show off his magic skills. But there's another guest in the house, the medical advicer Vergérus whom highly doubt Vogler supernatural powers.
Vogler and his gang surely looks and acts like your typical traveling con artists. Their escapades with the servants make the movie suffer some farce like moments, just as parts of "the big show" towards ending (With reservations for it not being that clear if you're not Swedish) And I say suffer, because it's rather unfitting. There are some real wit and shrewdness in the dialogue (as always in Bergman's films)…
So, Persona is pretty great. The Virgin Spring is pretty good. But after watching The Seventh Seal, Summer With Monika, and now The Magician, I'm beginning to think Ingmar Bergman is a bit overrated.
But I still wanna check out Cries & Whispers and Hour Of The Wolf before I make my final judgment. Maybe Scenes From A Marriage and Wild Strawberries too.
A forest stream, shadows slanting between the light, a ghost carriage filled with ghost realities. A house. A fireplace. Food and drink. One does not know where the magic is, or if it is there at all. One doesn't dare. The UNKNOWN. It's in the doctors eyes, as he tries to reassure himself.
Who is Vogler? A God or a cheat? A magician or a beggar?
We will never know. But I know one thing, this is a movie to return to. A humble masterpiece, a silent feast for the senses, a rich and grim tapestry of fear, and lies and truth and confusion.
A sort of magic trick of a movie, in that Bergman has as many tricks up his sleeve as Vogler. The whole film can be thought of as a defence of art (specifically magic, but really film), and in that way Bergman is like the illusionist himself, conjuring mood and suspense out of thin air. It's a highly artificial film, and not everything can be explained away as one of Vogler's illusions. The lengthy scene in the attic, full of atmosphere and tension and spookiness, attests to this.
Still, it really feels like a lesser Bergman, and the ridiculous ending nearly ruins the whole thing. It's like something out of the Keystone Cops or something.
This and The Seventh Seal are the only Bergman films I've seen. While Seventh Seal is probably the better of the two, I enjoyed this one more. Max Von Sydow's performance is fantastic
Una broma magistral. La obra se mueve entre la comedia y el terror gótico, entre lo racional y lo sobrenatural, lo escéptico y lo místico, la magia y el engaño.
Durante toda la película me he visto sumergido en un juego de sombras dominado por la mirada lapidaria y muda de Vogler.
what a gorgeous, visually intimate film
Bergman's returns to weird mystical/historical existential crisis mode after the Seventh Seal. This film doesn't have the flair or despair of that one, but it hits a lot of the same beats with a little more humor and a greater focus on the absurd.
It gradually strips away its own mysticism and makes you long for the lies.
I love my boy Ingmar but I completely disagree with his message this time around. The film is fantastic in an objective level; the lighting is dark and heavy, the mise en scene wonderfully gloomy and has Bibi looking qt as hell.
However his reproachful view of reason and intellect is not a view I share and I hasten to call this film a favourite of mine. I can at least admire his dedication to the world of superstition and the magical, but I don't believe we can ever regress back to that world and reclaim God. Science & reason is scary, but we must always pursue it, otherwise what difference is there between us and an ape?
UPDATED: January 28, 2016
The Criterion Collection is a video distribution company that sells "important classic and contemporary films" in…
The entire Criterion collection organized by spine number.
I don't know why I did this.
Number I've Seen: 196/776 (25%)