Close Up

2 November 2018 - 14 January 2019: Close-Up on Ingmar Bergman


One of the most revelatory voices to emerge from the postwar explosion of art-house cinema, Ingmar 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.

Summer with Monika
Ingmar Bergman
1953 | 97 min | B/W | Digital
Swedish with English subtitles

Inspired by the earthy eroticism of Harriet Andersson, in the first of her many roles for him, Ingmar Bergman had a major international breakthrough with this sensual and ultimately ravaging tale of young love. A girl (Andersson) and boy (Lars Ekborg) from working-class families in Stockholm run away from home to spend a secluded, romantic summer at the beach, far from parents and responsibilities. Inevitably, it is not long before the pair are forced to return to reality. Summer with Monika is a work of stunning maturity and one of Bergman’s most important films. read more

Smiles of a Summer Night
Ingmar Bergman
1955 | 108 min | B/W | Digital
Swedish with English subtitles

After fifteen films that received mostly local acclaim, the comedy Smiles of a Summer Night at last ushered in an international audience for Ingmar Bergman. In turn-of-the-century Sweden, four men and four women attempt to navigate the laws of attraction. During a weekend in the country, the women collude to force the men’s hands in matters of the heart, exposing their pretensions and insecurities along the way. read more

The Seventh Seal
Ingmar Bergman
1957 | 96 min | B/W | Digital
Swedish with English subtitles

It may be folly to think that life and thus death could hold any secrets. With The Seventh Seal Bergman spoke to this modern query in a medieval setting rendered at once awesome and intimate in chiaroscuro. A knight, Antonius Block (Max von Sydow), and his squire Jöns return disillusioned from the Crusades to the hysteria of plague-infested fourteenth-century Sweden. On the shore Block encounters Death and challenges him to a game of chess, playing for time to perform one significant act in life. read more

Wild Strawberries
Ingmar Bergman
1957 | 92 min | B/W | Digital
Swedish & Latin with English subtitles

Traveling to accept an honorary degree, Professor Isak Borg – masterfully played by veteran director Victor Sjöström – is forced to face his past, come to terms with his faults, and make peace with the inevitability of his approaching death. Through flashbacks and fantasies, dreams and nightmares, Wild Strawberries dramatizes one man’s remarkable voyage of self-discovery. This richly humane masterpiece, full of iconic imagery, is a treasure from the golden age of art-house cinema and one of the films that catapulted Ingmar Bergman to international acclaim. read more

The Virgin Spring
Ingmar Bergman
1960 | 87 min | B/W | Digital
Swedish & German with English subtitles

When Max von Sydow's young daughter is raped and gruesomely murdered, fate delivers the killers into his hands. The plot of The Virgin Spring is as simple and as clear as a parable, but the power of the film comes from Bergman's ability to give all the blood-letting a real impact. The Virgin Spring remains a shocking film, and sadly, its ambivalence about retaliatory violence has also retained its timeliness. read more

Through a Glass Darkly
Ingmar Bergman
1961 | 91 min | B/W | Digital
Swedish with English subtitles

Perhaps Bergman’s greatest film, Through a Glass Darkly renders a fragile woman’s descent into insanity as a cruel and beautiful poem. Harriet Andersson brings a dangerous incandescence to Karin, whose mental disintegration unleashes long buried incestuous passion and transforms her fits of religious ecstasy into harrowing visions of an uncaring, punishing god. read more

Winter Light
Ingmar Bergman
1962 | 80 min | B/W | Digital
Swedish with English subtitles

With Winter Light, Ingmar Bergman explores the search for redemption in a meaningless existence. Small-town pastor Tomas Ericsson (Gunnar Björnstrand) performs his duties mechanically before a dwindling congregation, including his stubbornly devoted lover, Märta (Ingrid Thulin). When he is asked to assuage a troubled parishioner’s (Max von Sydow) debilitating fear of nuclear annihilation, Tomas is terrified to find that he can provide nothing but his own doubt. read more

The Silence
Ingmar Bergman
1963 | 95 min | B/W | Digital
Swedish and Latin with English subtitles

Two sisters – the sickly, intellectual Ester (Ingrid Thulin) and the sensual, pragmatic Anna (Gunnel Lindblom) – travel by train with Anna’s young son Johan (Jorgen Lindstrom) to a foreign country seemingly on the brink of war. Attempting to cope with their alien surroundings, the sisters resort to their personal vices while vying for Johan’s affection, and in so doing sabotage any hope for a future together. Regarded as one of the most sexually provocative films of its day, Ingmar Bergman’s The Silence offers a brilliant, disturbing vision of emotional isolation in a suffocating spiritual void. read more

Ingmar Bergman
1966 | 83 min | B/W | Digital
Swedish & English with English subtitles

By the midsixties, Ingmar Bergman had already conjured many of the cinema’s most unforgettable images. But with the radical Persona, this supreme artist attained new levels of visual poetry. In the first of a series of legendary performances for Bergman, Liv Ullmann plays a stage actor who has inexplicably gone mute; an equally mesmerizing Bibi Andersson is the garrulous young nurse caring for her in a remote island cottage. While isolated together there, the women perform a mysterious spiritual and emotional transference that would prove to be one of cinema’s most influential creations. Acted with astonishing nuance and shot in stark contrast and soft light by the great Sven Nykvist, Persona is a penetrating, dreamlike work of profound psychological depth. read more

Hour of the Wolf
Ingmar Bergman
1968 | 88 min | B/W | Digital
Swedish & Norwegian with English subtitles

The strangest and most disturbing of the films Ingmar Bergman shot on the island of Fårö, Hour of the Wolf stars Max von Sydow as a haunted painter living in voluntary exile with his wife (Liv Ullmann). When the couple are invited to a nearby castle for dinner, things start to go wrong with a vengeance, as a coven of sinister aristocrats hastens the artist’s psychological deterioration. This gripping film is charged with a nightmarish power rare in the Bergman canon, and contains dreamlike effects that brilliantly underscore the tale’s horrific elements. read more

Ingmar Bergman
1968 | 103 min | B/W | Digital
Swedish with English subtitles

Shame was both Ingmar Bergman’s examination of the violent legacy of World War II and his scathing response to the escalation of the conflict in Vietnam. Max von Sydow and Liv Ullmann star as musicians living in quiet retreat on a remote island farm, until the civil war that drove them from the city catches up with them there. Amid the chaos of the military struggle, vividly evoked by pyrotechnics and by Sven Nykvist’s handheld camera work, the two are faced with uncomfortable moral choices. This film, which contains some of the greatest scenes in Bergman’s oeuvre, shows the devastating impact of war on individual lives. read more

The Passion of Anna
Ingmar Bergman
1969 | 101 min | Colour & B/W | Digital
Swedish with English subtitles

This drama shot on Ingmar Bergman’s beloved Fårö island describes a mood of fear, isolation, and the longing for connection. Not long after the dissolution of his marriage and a fleeting liaison with a neighbour (Bibi Andersson), the reclusive Andreas (Max von Sydow) begins an ill-fated affair with the mysterious, beguiling Anna (Liv Ullmann), who has recently lost her own husband and son. Bergman’s first colour film since All These Women, The Passion of Anna is a sequel of sorts to Shame. It incorporates documentary-style interviews with the actors, blurring the boundaries between fiction and nonfiction, lies and truth, dreams and reality, identity and anonymity. read more

The Rite
Ingmar Bergman
1969 | 72 min | B/W | Digital
Swedish with English subtitles

The Rite is one of Bergman’s most stylised and political films. A Kafkaesque chamber drama originally written for the stage, this production was made for TV so that Bergman and his crew could utilise extensive closeups of the performers’ faces against minimalist set decor. Three itinerant actors, played by Bergman regulars Ingrid Thulin, Gunnar Björnstrand, and Anders Ek, are accused of taking part in a performance deemed pornographic by the state’s authorities. Taut, bold, and dark, The Rite confronts artistic censorship while also investigating central Bergman themes such as sexual violence and the nature of performance. read more

Cries and Whispers
Ingmar Bergman
1973 | 91 min | Colour | Digital
Swedish, German & Danish with English subtitles

This existential wail of a drama from Ingmar Bergman concerns two sisters, Karin (Ingrid Thulin) and Maria (Liv Ullmann), keeping vigil for a third, Agnes (Harriet Andersson), who is dying of cancer and can find solace only in the arms of a beatific servant (Kari Sylwan). An intensely felt film that is one of Bergman’s most striking formal experiments, Cries and Whispers (which won an Oscar for the extraordinary color photography of Sven Nykvist) is a powerful depiction of human behavior in the face of death, positioned on the borders between reality and nightmare, tranquillity and terror. read more

Scenes from a Marriage
Ingmar Bergman
1973 | 283 min | Colour | Digital
Swedish with English subtitles

Scenes from a Marriage chronicles the many years of love and turmoil that bind Marianne (Liv Ullmann) and Johan (Erland Josephson) through matrimony, infidelity, divorce, and subsequent partners. Shot in intense, intimate close-ups by master cinematographer Sven Nykvist and featuring flawless performances, Ingmar Bergman’s emotional X-ray reveals the intense joys and pains of a complex relationship. read more

Autumn Sonata
Ingmar Bergman
1978 | 93 min | Colour | Digital
Swedish & English with English subtitles

Autumn Sonata was the only collaboration between cinema’s two great Bergmans: Ingmar, the iconic director of The Seventh Seal, and Ingrid, the monumental star of Casablanca. The grand dame, playing an icy concert pianist, is matched beat for beat in ferocity by the filmmaker’s recurring lead Liv Ullmann, as her eldest daughter. Over the course of a day and a long, painful night that the two spend together after an extended separation, they finally confront the bitter discord of their relationship. This cathartic pas de deux, evocatively shot in burnished harvest colors by the great Sven Nykvist, ranks among Ingmar Bergman’s major dramatic works. read more

Fanny and Alexander
Ingmar Bergman
1982 | 312 min | Colour | Digital
Swedish, German, Yiddish, English & French with English subtitles

Through the eyes of ten-year-old Alexander, we witness the delights and conflicts of the Ekdahl family, a sprawling bourgeois clan in turn-of-the-twentieth-century Sweden. Ingmar Bergman intended Fanny and Alexander as his swan song, and it is the legendary director’s warmest and most autobiographical film, a four-time Academy Award–winning triumph that combines his trademark melancholy and emotional intensity with immense joy and sensuality. Ingmar Bergman described Fanny and Alexander as "the sum total of my life as a filmmaker." And in this, the full-length version of his triumphant valediction, his vision is expressed at its fullest. read more

Ingmar Bergman
2003 | 107 min | Colour | Digital
Swedish with English subtitles

A blistering sequel to Scenes from a Marriage, Bergman’s final work proved that his grasp of human foibles had only sharpened, not mellowed, with age. Still seething after all these years, ex-spouses Marianne and Johan (longtime collaborators Liv Ullmann and Erland Josephson) are reunited when Marianne visits the surly old contrarian on his isolated estate. Saraband aims for the heights of Strindberg, Ibsen, or Chekhov, and achieves them. read more

The Sacrifice
Andrei Tarkovsky
1986 | 149 min | Colour & B/W | Digital
Swedish with English subtitles

Tarkovsky’s final film is also one of his most overtly theatrical, a chamber drama drawn in characteristically virtuoso long takes. A philosopher celebrates his birthday by planting a tree with his young son on an otherwise barren landscape. Disgusted with modernity, he finds his calling after reports of an impending nuclear war, the reality of which remains occluded in dream. A yin-yang symbol emblazoned on the philosopher’s robe indicates the many structuring dualities of the film: personal crisis and public catastrophe, Christian atonement and pagan rites, redemption and madness, the hopefulness of a closing tribute to Tarkovsky’s son and the irrevocable vision of a life in flames. read more

The Piano Teacher
Michael Haneke
2001 | 129 min | Colour | Digital
French with English subtitles

Isabelle Huppert gives a performance of astounding intensity as Erika Kohut, a repressed woman in her late thirties who teaches piano at the Vienna Conservatory and lives with her tyrannical mother, with whom she has a volatile love-hate relationship. But when one of Erika's students, the handsome and assured Walter Klemmer, attempts to seduce her, the barriers that she has carefully erected around her claustrophobic world are shattered, unleashing a previously inhibited extreme and uncontrollable desire. read more