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SPECIFICATIONS
  • 2.35:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
  • English Dolby Digital 1.0 Mono
  • Swedish PCM Mono
  • English subtitles
  • 3 Discs
FEATURES
  • Introductions to the films by director Ingmar Bergman, recorded in 2003
  • Interview from 2012 with actor Harriet Andersson
  • Audio interview from 1962 with actor Gunnar Björnstrand
  • Illustrated audio interview with cinematographer Sven Nykvist, recorded in 1981
  • Observations from 2003 on each film by film scholar Peter Cowie
  • Ingmar Bergman Makes a Movie, a five-part documentary by Vilgot Sjöman made for Swedish television during the production of Winter Light
  • Poster gallery
  • Original U.S. theatrical trailers
  • Alternate English-dubbed soundtracks

A Film Trilogy by Ingmar Bergman

Blu-ray
Reviewed by: Chris Galloway

Directed By: Ingmar Bergman
2019 | 266 Minutes | Licensor: Svensk Filmindustri

Release Information
Blu-ray | MSRP: $99.95 | Series: The Criterion Collection | Edition: #208
MVD Visual

Release Date: June 4, 2019
Review Date: June 11, 2019

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SYNOPSIS

In 1960, Swedish director Ingmar Bergman began work on three of his most powerful and representative films, eventually presented as a trilogy. Already a figure of international acclaim for such masterpieces as The Seventh Seal and The Magician, Bergman turned his back on the expressionism of his fifties work to focus on a series of chamber dramas exploring belief and alienation in the modern age. Collaborating with the distinguished cinematographer Sven Nykvist, and eliciting searing performances from his refined cast of regulars—Harriet Andersson, Gunnar Björnstrand, Gunnel Lindblom, Ingrid Thulin, and Max Von Sydow among them—Bergman unleashed Through a Glass Darkly, Winter Light, and The Silence in rapid succession, exposing moviegoers worldwide to a new level of intellectual and emotional intensity. Drawing on Bergman’s own upbringing and ongoing spiritual crises, the films of the trilogy examine the necessity of religion and question the promise of faith.


PICTURE

The Criterion Collection upgrades their DVD box set A Film Trilogy by Ingmar Bergman to Blu-ray. The 3-disc set features the films Through a Glass Darkly, Winter Light, and The Silence, all presented with new 1080p/24hz high-definition encodes in the aspect ratio of 1.37:1. All three films comes from 2K restorations. Winter Light was scanned from the 35mm original camera negative, while the other two films were scanned from 35mm interpositives. All three films are presented on their own respective dual-layer disc.

The original DVDs, sourced from high-definition restorations, still hold up well but the new presentations found here all best their DVD counterparts in every area. Clarity and detail are easily the biggest improvements for each film, the finer points of the image no longer held back by DVD compression, and this is first notable in the sweater worn by Max von Sydow in Through a Glass Darkly: the woven patterns is distinct and clear and you can even make out individual strands. This all wonderfully carries through the other films as well.

In terms of crispness and detail Winter Light is probably the best looking of the three (which is interesting since Winter Light probably looked weakest in the DVD set, not counting the included documentary Ingmar Bergman Makes a Movie) but the other two do a fine job as well. Grain is very fine across all three films but it’s rendered well, keeping natural and never looking noisy or blocky. Contrast looks spot on across all three films with lovely grayscale, nice whites and rich deep blacks, which help in the darker moments found in each film.

The restoration work goes further than what was found on the DVDs: a lot of the scratches and marks are gone, and the occasional flicker and pulse that could pop up in each has also been removed. Oddly, Through a Glass Darkly showcases more print flaws than the other films (a few big marks stand out only because the rest of the film is so clean), but it’s still substantially cleaner than what the DVD presented.

Far more filmic and clean in the end, the presentations found here offer substantial improvements over the previous DVDs and for that alone this would be worth upgrading to.

Detailed reviews for each title:
Through a Glass Darkly, Winter Light, The Silence

9/10

All Blu-ray screen captures come from the source disc and have been shrunk from 1920x1080 to 900x506 and slightly compressed to conserve space. While they are not exact representations they should offer a general idea of overall video quality.

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Through a Glass Darkly

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Through a Glass Darkly

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Through a Glass Darkly

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Through a Glass Darkly

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Through a Glass Darkly

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Winter Light

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Winter Light

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Winter Light

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Winter Light

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Winter Light

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The Silence

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The Silence

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The Silence

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The Silence

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The Silence

AUDIO

Each film comes with two audio tracks: the original Swedish soundtrack presented in lossless PCM 1.0 mono, and then an English-dub in Dolby Digital 1.0 mono.

In each case the Swedish tracks are the better ones. Yes, the films are quiet and reflective so they don’t offer any surprises, but all three have been restored and have a small amount of range. There is some background noise but it rarely stands out and there are no signs of pops or cracks. All three sound very good.

The English dubs all sound to be direct ports of what was on the DVD. Though they are decent for English dubs, they’re still hollow and tinny with lousy fidelity and no range at all. Dialogue is still easy to understand, but it comes off a little edgy across all three films.

Through a Glass Darkly, Winter Light, The Silence

6/10

SUPPLEMENTS

Criterion ports all of the on-disc content from the DVDs and then adds a handful of new material. New to each title are introductions featuring Ingmar Bergman, all of which were recorded by filmmaker Marie Nyeröd back in 2003 for television airings of his films. For Through a Glass Darkly Nyeröd appears to talk about the significance of Faro Island, where the film takes place. Bergman appears on the other two, addressing his fondness for Winter Light and getting into the controversies that surrounded The Silence.

Film historian Peter Cowie also appears on each disc to talk about that disc’s respective film, and all have been ported over from the previous DVD editions. For Through a Glass Darkly he talks about that film and the trilogy itself. For the other films he addresses controversies around them (the sex scenes in The Silence) or how Bergman’s techniques and look for his films changed (the lighting and more natural look found in Winter Light). They only run around 10-minutes each but do provide decent insights into the trilogy and Bergman’s struggle with his religious beliefs.

Each disc also features its respective film’s original American theatrical trailers.

Each disc then presents their own features on top of those introductions and Cowie interviews, though the first disc (featuring Through a Glass Darkly) features all of that other new material. The first of that new material is an interview with actor Harriet Andersson from 2012, filmed at the Midnight Sun Film Festival in Sodankylä, Finland, where she first jokes about how she was married to a farmer at the time (which she figures is hard for some to imagine) before talking about coming on board to do Through a Glass Darkly. It’s a fun conversation and she has a couple of good stories, including an amusing one about how her stomach wouldn’t stop gurgling during one scene. It runs 8-minutes with some behind-the-scene footage and clips from the film.

Criterion then digs up two audio interviews: one with director of photography Sven Nykvist, done in February of 1981, followed by a 1962 interview with actor Gunnar Bjornstrand performed by Gideon Bachmann at the Berlin Film Festival. Nykvist talks about his career with Bergman, focusing on a select number of films to explain how the two worked together and came up with each film’s look. Winter Light is where Bergman decided he wanted a different look for his films, most of his previous ones having a more polished, almost Hollywood kind of look, and with Winter Light they decided to play more with the lighting and go for a more natural look. Cried & Whispers also offered a challenge, with its intense red backgrounds.

For his interview, Bjornstrand ends up talking mostly about Bergman and his work with him, which is what Bachmann seems most interested in, with Bjornstrand even talking about the yet incomplete trilogy (he mentions he’s not sure what the third film will be like). Eventually Bachmann asks the actor about his career specifically, though they seem to fall back into talking about Bergman again. Despite the lack of focus on Bjornstrand specifically it’s still and engaging discussion. Both interviews run about 15-minutes.

Disc 2, which houses Winter Light only features one significant extra outside of the intro and interview: the 5-episode, 146-minute television documentary on the making of Winter Light, Vilgot Sjöman’s Ingmar Bergman Makes a Movie, which was originally featured on its own on the fourth disc of the DVD set (complete with its own DVD case and spine number, #212, which is missing from this set, something that might irk completists). As a making-of documentary it never really rises above others of its type but getting such an intimate portrait of Bergman and how he goes about developing a film is still priceless. Each of the five parts cover a specific aspect of the production (with the last part being a straight interview between Bergman and Sjöman about the release and experience), we get to see development and pre-production before moving onto the actual filming, watching Bergman work with his actors (though Sjöman admits in an essay included with the DVD but not in this set that these were staged by Bergman specifically for the documentary). The best portion, though, covers post-production, where Bergman talks about how he constructs his films and the editing process. Again, I didn’t find it to be constructed in a particularly original, or even interesting way, but I enjoyed watching Bergman work and listening to him go through his process in an almost step-by-step manner.

The documentary has been broken up into five chapters, one for each part, dropping the individual chapters found on the DVD within each episode. The same master used for the DVD has also been used here, so it’s basically a video presentation and it still looks rough.

Disc 3, featuring The Silence doesn’t present anything else significant, only featuring a small poster gallery, which was found on the DVD, showing off a handful of posters for the films (more for The Silence).

The box set also features a booklet (included with Through a Glass Darkly), first featuring an essay by Catherine Wheatley on the trilogy, followed by a brief excerpt written by Bergman on his struggles with religion and God, taken from his 1987 book, The Magic Lantern: An Autobiography. Though the essay is fine it’s a bit disappointing that Criterion didn’t carry over the individual essays written for each film in the DVD set, which even included a small note by director Vilgot Sjöman on his Ingmar Bergman Makes a Movie.

The DVD set was a nice looking one but it really disappointed with supplements. The new material fixes this area a great deal, but I still wish there was more material that was specific to each film.

Through a Glass Darkly, Winter Light, The Silence

7/10

CLOSING

I still wish there was more supplementary material specific to each film in the set, but overall this new Blu-ray edition still improves upon the previous DVD set in every way, offering more supplementary material and sharper, cleaner video presentations.


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