Ingmar Bergman’s Cinema

Disc 1, Smiles of a Summer Night


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Synopsis

In honor of Ingmar Bergman’s one-hundredth birthday, the Criterion Collection is proud to present the most comprehensive collection of his films ever released on home video. One of the most revelatory voices to emerge from the postwar explosion of international art-house cinema, Bergman was a master storyteller who startled the world with his stark intensity and naked pursuit of the most profound metaphysical and spiritual questions. The struggles of faith and morality, the nature of dreams, and the agonies and ecstasies of human relationships—Bergman explored these subjects in films ranging from comedies whose lightness and complexity belie their brooding hearts to groundbreaking formal experiments and excruciatingly intimate explorations of family life.

Arranged as a film festival with opening and closing nights bookending double features and centerpieces, this selection spans six decades and thirty-nine films—including such celebrated classics as The Seventh Seal, Persona, and Fanny and Alexander alongside previously unavailable works like Dreams, The Rite, and Brink of Life. Accompanied by a 248-page book with essays on each program, as well as by more than thirty hours of supplemental features, Ingmar Bergman’s Cinema traces themes and images across Bergman’s career, blazing trails through the master’s unequaled body of work for longtime fans and newcomers alike.

Picture 8/10

Disc one (programmed as “Opening Night”) of Criterion’s 30-disc box set Ingmar Bergman’s Cinema presents the film that introduced Bergman to the world, Smiles of a Summer Night. The film is presented in the aspect ratio of 1.33:1 on a dual-layer disc and features a 1080p/24hz high-definition encode. According to the notes in the set’s included book the presentation comes from a 2K restoration scanned from the 35mm original camera negative.

I was always a little confused by Criterion’s original Blu-ray edition for this film, released way back in 2011. The transfer notes for that edition copied the DVD’s, stating that the master came from a high-definition restoration scanned from a print struck directly from the negative (so not directly from the negative), which suggested that they were reusing the same master that was used for the DVD edition. I really questioned this, though, because the Blu-ray’s presentation looked way too good for that to be the case. Not only were most of previous blemishes removed (along with print fluctuations) but grain also looked shockingly good, the image delivering a really wonderful film-like texture that I highly doubt a digital master from 2004 (at the latest) would be able to offer. It looked like it was a newer scan and a newer restoration.

I’m guessing now that the notes for that Blu-ray edition were incorrect because what is provided here (which again, is apparently sourced from a 2K restoration taken from the negative, as the notes say here) looks exactly the same as what was presented on that Blu-ray. And this is perfectly fine because the presentation was and is still unbelievably good. The level of detail (which was admittedly still pretty good on the DVD) is extraordinary, with fine details and textures popping through clearly. This is aided by the sharp rendering of the film’s grain, which looks clean and natural throughout. Contrast is good, with wonderful gray levels that smoothly transition, capped off with strong looking blacks. The film receives a lot of room to breathe on the disc, retaining an impressive bitrate throughout, and I don’t recall any severe digital anomalies, similar to the original Blu-ray’s presentation.

And again the restoration work is impressive, cleaning up most of the blemishes found on the DVD’s presentation. In the end it doesn’t appear to be new, looking to be sourced from the same master used for the individual Blu-ray edition. But this isn’t a bad thing at all; it’s a sharp, clean, and filmic looking image that still looks great 8 years later.

Audio 6/10

Audio sounds the similar to what is offered on the original Blu-ray: there is some audible background noise at times but the track does have some decent depth and fidelity to it, and both dialogue and music are clean and sharp.

Extras 3/10

Criterion does port over most of the supplements from the DVD and Blu-ray edition, which was unfortunately sparse, all of the material running a bit over 20-minutes. This was pretty obnoxious for a the higher $39.95 price point on Blu-ray (when the DVD had been priced at $29.95) but in the context of this set, which is loaded with material, the minimal quantity of supplemental material offered here is less infuriating.

First is a 4-minute introduction by Ingmar Bergman, filmed by director Marie Nyeröd in 2003, filmed for television as introductions for airings of his films (and Criterion has been putting these on their Bergman releases since). He briefly talks about his surprise at the film’s success, which also showed at Cannes without his knowledge (he found out about it while sitting on the toilet reading the newspaper.) In turn the film’s success, after a series of flops, led to him receiving more freedom to make the films he wanted. Not overly insightful because of its short runtime but I enjoy getting whatever interview I can with the director.

The final feature is a 17-minute discussion between film scholar Peter Cowie and writer Jörn Donner. Not the overly insightful piece I had been hoping for but it has some value. The two talk about Bergman’s career up to that point (not great) and then how this film helped him break out of Sweden, his stature amongst cinephiles cemented after The Seventh Seal, which he was able to make because of the success of Smiles of a Summer Night. Donner talks a little about Bergman’s personal life at the time, as well as problems in his professional relationships, and the two also talk about Summer Night and the film’s cast. Not bad but as the disc’s meatier supplement it’s lacking. The disc also still comes with short bios for each participant.

A 2-minute theatrical trailer then closes the disc.

The set’s 247-page book also features the same essay by John Simon on the film, explaining how the film offered a defining moment for Bergman, who was dealing with a number of personal issues at the time (with Bergman even thinking that offing himself was a viable option). Unfortunately Criterion does not carry over Pauline Kael’s review of the film.

Again, the material isn’t terribly in-depth but it does explain the importance behind the film and how it boosted Bergman’s visibility, leading him down the path he would eventually follow.

Closing

This disc is essentially the same exact disc that Criterion released individually but it’s still a solid way to open the set.

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Directed by: Ingmar Bergman
Featuring: Anita Björk, Inga Landre, Elliott Gould, Nine-Christine Jönsson, Josef Kostlinger, Ingrid Bergman, Ulla Jacobsson , Robert Atzorn, Bïörje Ahlstedt, Holger Löwenadler, Eva Henning, Liv Ullmann, Eva Dahlbeck, Maj-Britt Nilsson, Irma Urrila, Pernilla Allwin, Anna Lindhal, David Carradine, Christine Buchegger, Kari Sylwan, Ingrid Thulin, Lena Nyman, Hakan Hagegard, Gert Frobe, Stig Olin, Martin Benrath, Yvonne Lombard, Börje Ahlstedt, Ake Grönberg, Margaretha Krook, Mimi Nelson, Marianne Löfgren, Birgit Tengroth, Alf Kjellin, Stig Järrel, Harriet Andersson, Birger Malmsten, Bibi Andersson, Birgitta Valberg , Nils Poppe, Bengt Ekerot, Victor Sjöström, Hasse Ekman, Max von Sydow, Jarl Kulle , Jörgen Lindström, Berta Hall, Dagny Lind, Lars Passgård, Birgitta Pettersson, John Ekman, Ulf Palme, Nadja Palmstjerna-Weiss, Julia Dufvenius, Rita Russek, Halvar Björk, Georg Rydeberg, Sheila Reid, Håkan Jahnberg, Ewa Fröling, Margit Carlqvist, Annalisa Ericson, Elisabeth Eriksson, Gunnel Lindblom, Gunnar Björnstrand, Margit Carlquist, Gunnel Fred, Fritz Strassner, Lars Ekborg, Naemi Briese, Brigitta Valberg, Karin Kavli, Ingmar Bergman, Bertil Guve, Allan Bohlin, Mimmi Nelson, Lola Müthel, Jullan Kindahl, Arne Bang-Hansen, Anders Ek, Heinz Bennent, Erland Josephson, Gertrud Fridh, Jan Malmsjö, Walter Schmidinger, Karl-Arne Holmsten, Hjördis Petterson, Wenche Foss, Folke Sundquist, Erik Hell, Inga Gill, Ernst Eklund, Olof Winnerstrand, Hans Alfredson, Marianne Aminoff, Sture Lagerwall, Hans Quest, Annika Tretow, Allan Edwall, Bengt Eklund, Gudrun Brost, Naima Wifstrand, Sigge Fürst, Mona Malm, Ingvar Kjellson, Maud Hansson, Lasse Krantz, Mimi Pollak, Britta Billsten, Signe Wirff, Barbro Hiort af Ornäs, Björn Bjelvenstam, Gaby Stenberg, Birgitte Reimer, Edith Heerdegen, Anita Wall, Georg Funkquist, Inga Landgré, Henning Moritzen, Georg Løkkeberg, Ruth Olafs, James Whitmore, Aino Taube, Frank Sundström, Jan Molander, John Elfström, Ann-Marie Gyllenspetz, Ulf Johanson, Renée Björling, Kerstin Tidelius, Tovio Pawlo, Gunnel Broström, Glynn Turman, Karl-Heinz Pelser, Torsten Winge, Linn Ullmann, Georg Arlin, Håkan Westergren, Gunnar Sjöberg, Bertil Anderberg, Lena Olin, Dagmar Ebbesen, Sif Ruud, Axel Düberg, Vilgot Sjöman, Gaby Dohm, Åke Fridell, Erik Strandmark, Per Mattson, Heino Hallhuber, Gunnar Olsson, Gösta Prüzelius
Year: 1946-2003
Time: 4467 total min.
 
Series: The Criterion Collection
Licensors: Svensk Filmindustri  |  Folkets Hus och Parker  |  Buena Vista Home Entertainment  |  MGM Home Entertainment  |  20th Century Fox  |  Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
Release Date: November 20 2018
MSRP: $299.95
 
Blu-ray
30 Discs | BD-50
1.33:1 ratio
1.37:1 ratio
1.66:1 ratio
1.78:1 ratio
1.85:1 ratio
English 1.0 Dolby Digital Mono
English 1.0 PCM Mono
Swedish 1.0 PCM Mono
Swedish 2.0 DTS-HD MA Surround
Subtitles: English
Region A
 
 Video introduction to Smiles of a Summer Night by Ingmar Bergman   New video conversation between Bergman scholar Peter Cowie and writer Jörn Donner, executive producer of Fanny and Alexander, about Smiles of a Summer Night   Original theatrical trailer for Smiles of a Summer Night   Audio commentary for Wild Strawberries featuring film scholar Peter Cowie   Introduction to Wild Strawberries by director Ingmar Bergman   Ingmar Bergman on Life and Work, a ninety-minute documentary by filmmaker and author Jorn Donner   Behind-the-scenes footage for Wild Strawberries shot by Bergman    Introduction for Summer with Monika by director Ingmar Bergman   New interview with actress Harriet Andersson, conducted by film scholar Peter Cowie   New interview with film scholar Eric Schaefer about Kroger Babb and his distribution of Monika, the Story of a Bad Girl! as an exploitation film   Images from the Playground, a half-hour documentary by Stig Björkman featuring behind-the-scenes footage shot for Summer with Monika by Ingmar Bergman, archival audio interviews with Bergman, and new interviews with actresses Bibi Andersson and Harriet Andersson   Trailer for Summer with Monika   Introduction for A Lesson in Love by Ingmar Bergman   Video interview with Ingmar Bergman from 1986   Video interview with Scenes from a Marriage's stars Liv Ullmann and Erland Josephson   Video interview with Bergman scholar Peter Cowie comparing the two versions of Scenes from a Marriage   Interviews with director Ingmar Bergman and a brief excerpt from a press conference for Shame, recorded in 1967 and ’68 for Swedish television   New interview with actor Liv Ullmann   An Introduction to Ingmar Bergman, a 1968 documentary made during Shame's production, featuring an extensive interview with Bergman   Daniel and Karin's Face, two rarely seen documentary shorts by Bergman   Introduction for Bergman's Trilogy by director Ingmar Bergman   Exploring Bergman's Trilogy: Video discussions with Ingmar Bergman biographer Peter Cowie   Interview from 2012 with actor Harriet Andersson   Original theatrical trailer for Through a Glass Darkly   Ingmar Bergman Makes a Movie, a five-part documentary by Vilgot Sjöman made for Swedish television during the production of Winter Light   Original theatrical trailer for Winter Light   Poster gallery for the trilogy films   Original theatrical trailer for The Silence   Audio commentary for The Virgin Spring by Ingmar Bergman scholar Birgitta Steene   Video interviews from 2005 with actors Gunnel Lindblom and Birgitta Pettersson   Introduction for The Virgin Spring by filmmaker Ang Lee   An audio recording of a 1975 American Film Institute seminar by Ingmar Bergman   Introduction to The Seventh Seal by Ingmar Bergman, recorded in 2003   Audio commentary for The Seventh Seal by Bergman expert Peter Cowie   Afterword for The Seventh Seal by Peter Cowie   Bergman Island (2006), an 83-minute documentary on Bergman by Marie Nyrer   Archival audio interview with Max von Sydow   A 1989 tribute to Bergman by filmmaker Woody Allen   Theatrical trailer for The Seventh Seal   Bergman 101, a selected video filmography tracing Bergman   Audio commentary for Sawdust and Tinsel by Bergman scholar Peter Cowie   Video introduction for Sawdust and Tinsel by Ingmar Bergman from 2003   Visual essay for The Magician by Peter Cowie   Brief 1967 video interview with director Ingmar Bergman about The Magician   Rare English-language audio interview with Ingmar Bergman conducted by filmmakers Olivier Assayas and Stig Björkman in 1990   Interview with director Ingmar Bergman recorded in 1974 for Swedish television   New interview with film scholar Peter Cowie about The Magic Flute   Tystnad! Tagning! Trollflöjten! (1975), a feature-length documentary produced for Swedish television about the making of The Magic Flute   Ingmar Bergman, a documentary by Stig Björkman shot on location during the making of The Touch in 1970   Away from Home, excerpts from a 2004 program on The Serpent's Egg, featuring interviews with actors David Carradine and Liv Ullmann, and film historian Marc Gervais   Illustrated audio interview with cinematographer Sven Nykvist, recorded in 1981   A lavishly illustrated 248-page book, featuring essays on the films by critics, scholars, and authors including Peter Cowie, Alexander Chee, Molly Haskell, Karan Mahajan, Fernanda Solórzano, and many others; selections from Ingmar Bergman’s own writing and remarks on his work; and detailed guides to the feature films and supplements included in the set