Ingmar Bergman’s Cinema

Disc 19, The Magician


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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

The 19th disc in in Criterion’s box set Ingmar Bergman’s Cinema is dedicated solely to The Magician, which is presented on this dual-layer disc in the aspect ratio 1.33:1. The film is encoded at 1080p/24hz and comes from a high-definition restoration, scanned originally from a 35mm fine-grain master positive.

Criterion appears to be porting their 2010 Blu-ray edition of the film over to this disc, simply changing the menus out (though I should note that it does not save the bookmarks between discs). I was expecting a different encode, at least, but that also doesn’t appear to be the case: comparing the two they look exactly the same, from the encode, right down to the same wear around the edges of the screen, and the occasional jitter and flicker.

Though I will say the digital presentation holds up remarkably well all these years later, there are some dated aspects. Grain is visible, but it can have a bit of a sharpened look. It’s not glaring, but this gives it more of a digital look. Contrast can also look a little off, boosted a bit, which makes the whites a more intense and the blacks darker, leading to grayscale that doesn’t transition all that smoothly. It could be the intentional look, but this just gives it a more dated look in the end.

Having said that, though, it’s still a pleasant picture. Detail is strong, with textures looking natural and clean, and the image stays sharp throughout. I also didn’t detect any glaring digital anomalies, it’s just that the grain isn’t as well defined as some of the more recent restorations in the set.

The film could definitely use a fresh new scan and restoration, and I’m a little bewildered as to why Svensk wouldn’t feel the need (after all, they did another 2K restoration for Summer Interlude after having already done why just a few years before), but it will do for now.

Audio 6/10

The lossless PCM 1.0 monaural presentation of the film’s Swedish soundtrack also sounds the same as what was available on the previous Blu-ray. Dialogue sounds fine, and the track is clean, but there are times that can get a bit edgy, specifically with the film’s music, most notable during the film’s final moments of the film, where the music gives more a humourous edge.

Extras 5/10

All on-disc supplements from Criterion’s previous release for The Magician have been ported over, though it’s a disappointingly sparse amount.

Things start off again with a section around interviews with Bergman, the first a Swedish television interview, recorded in 1967. It runs only 3-and-a-half minutes and features Bergman talking a little about Persona and then The Magician, explaining how the film was about the relationship between the artist and his audience, fitting in a story about a Chinese woodworker to bring it together.

The next interview found here is a great one between Bergman and filmmakers Olivier Assayas and Stig Björkman. This 20-minute piece, which is in English (but thankfully still presents English subtitles because it’s impossible to hear at times), focuses primarily on Bergman’s early life and his stage work, including his beginnings as a play writer. They move on to film where Bergman talks about some of his favourite French directors and their films, Pepe le moko being a personal favourite of his. It then closes in the last couple minutes with the three talking a little about The Magician, which Bergman recalls as a fun shoot.

The final disc supplement is a 15-minute video essay by Peter Cowie, who has also done essays and other work for previous Criterion editions of Bergman’s films, including an excellent essay that appeared on both editions of The Seventh Seal. This essay focuses solely on The Magician, with some minor mentions of other films in comparison, and the themes that are found in it, such as the themes of art and science, but primarily how the film represents the relationship between Bergman and his audience, with the character of Vogler (the magician played by Max von Sydow) representing the director. He breaks down a few sequences and looks at the symbolism and gestures within them. An excellent piece, peeling back some of the layers to the film that are not readily evident.

The previous Blu-ray included a thick booklet and some of its content is found in the set’s 247-page book. Geoff Andrew’s essay appears here as does an excerpt from Bergman’s book Images about The Magician, though it’s further truncated in comparison to what was found in the previous booklet. An appreciation by filmmaker Olivier Assayas does not seem to appear here.

The material, in the end, is still good, but still feels very sparse.

Closing

Criterion is simply porting over their old Blu-ray, so nothing new here: same (fine) presentation and same (small) set of features.

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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
German 1.0 PCM Mono
Swedish 2.0 PCM Stereo
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