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INGMAR BERGMAN: FOUR MASTERWORKS

Review by Michael Jacobson

Director: Ingmar Bergman
Studio:  Criterion
Release Date:  December 4, 2007

Box Set ****

Trying to imagine cinema without Ingmar Bergman is like trying to imagine jazz without Charlie Parker, or rock music without The Beatles, or writing reviews without coming up with insipid weak analogies.  It just can't be done.

It was in the 1950s that Bergman truly stormed the world with a string of pictures that would be almost instantly unforgettable and influential.  The works were fantastic, yet intensely personal.  In fact, one could say that modern cinema history turned a page with the iconic offering of Max von Sydow playing chess with Death in The Seventh Seal.

It was an offering of pure fantasy, yet philosophically grounded.  What is the purpose of life?  What secrets lie beyond the grave?  Is there a silence of God, or is man simply too busy chattering away to hear Him?  What do we see when we look into our own coffins as in Wild Strawberries, or experience the ruination of faith as in The Virgin Spring?

Bergman's films don't necessary offer answers, because in most cases, there are no simple solutions.  But what his artwork continues to provide for audiences is the chance to ponder the questions in thoughtful, soul-searching ways.  The four films presented in Ingmar Bergman: Four Masterworks say a lot about how one man can use his medium to color and shape our very perceptions in his own image...and at the same time, how much room can be left in the margins to bring our own consciousness into the material mix.

All you need to know is here.

Smiles of a Summer Night

The Seventh Seal

Wild Strawberries

The Virgin Spring

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