Ingmar Bergman’s Cinema
Disc 4, To Joy / Summer Interlude
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.
Moving on to disc four of Criterion’s box set, Ingmar Bergman’s Cinema, we are presented with two more early films from the filmmaker: To Joy and Summer Interlude. Both films are presented in the aspect ratio of 1.37:1 on this dual-layer disc, and each film receives a 1080p/24hz high-definition encode. Both presentations also come from 2K restorations scanned from 35mm duplicate negatives.
Both films have been released previously by Criterion, with To Joy appearing on their Early Bergman Eclipse set. That DVD’s presentation was fine for the format but this new release offers a considerable upgrade. There is still a little bit of damage, including some shifts in the frame, but it’s far more minimal compared to what was on the DVD and there are large lengths where nothing ever pops up. The image is sharp and clean, delivering extraordinary detail (you can make out the fibers on Stig’s jackets) and film grain looks exceptional. Blacks and whites look perfect with excellent contrast and grayscale shifts smoothly finishing off that photographic look. Getting past some of the remaining print issues it’s an amazing upgrade over the DVD.
The bigger surprise on here, though, is Summer Interlude, previously released by Criterion on DVD and Blu-ray in 2012, which now makes use of a new 2017 2K restoration. The old one also came from a 2K restoration and the transfer notes pointed out the amount of work that had to go into the film due to the elements being in horrendous condition. I still think it turned out quite good even if damage was still heavy, so I wasn’t sure if a newer restoration was needed all that much. Apparently I was very wrong on that! Though still a little problematic in places the improvements are significant in spots and the image overall is better.
One noticeable difference is that this image is much brighter. Looking at the old one the darker contrast creates oppressive blacks which murder detail in the shadows that show up in this new presentation. The opening titles look a little sharper, less blown out, and issues with mold have been pretty much eradicated. The mid-section of the film was littered with extended sequences overrun by mold, and that is all gone now. There are still scratches and other issues on the edge of the screen, but just eliminating that mold helps significantly. Other flaws, like dirt and the like, as well as larger more prominent scratches, are gone as well. And like the old presentation details are still very sharp and film grain is rendered exceptionally.
Overall both look incredible, and it was a nice surprise to see Summer Interlude get another once-over.
To Joy (1949): 8/10 Summer Interlude (1951): 8/10
Both films present their Swedish soundtracks in lossless PCM 1.0 mono. While there is some audible background noise at times both tracks have been restored nicely, with no significant problems like pops or drops ever showing up. Dialogue sounds clear and music can have decent range, particularly To Joy, which of course centers around music.
To Joy (1949): 6/10 Summer Interlude (1951): 6/10
Criterion has been pretty good with supplements in this set, at the very least porting material over from previous editions if they exist. Though both films were released by Criterion previously neither one any supplementary material outside of essays. To Joy’s essay from the Eclipse release is missing from the set’s included 247-page book, but Criterion has at the very least ported over Peter Cowie’s essay from Summer Interlude’s individual release, with modifications to include To Joy in it (the essay ends up being more about To Joy in the end. It’s disappointing there still isn’t any material around this period in Bergman’s career, where the director felt he was better finding his voice, but at least the set makes up for this in other areas.
Another nice surprise, including gorgeous new presentations for both films.