It's funny, so to speak, that Bergman's most touted dark drama has its wealth of light and even comedic moments, and vice-versa in the case of Devil's Eye. For the much-touted movie I mean The Seventh Seal, where we get much ado about the existence of God or lack thereof and Death looming large, but it's also got its share of laughs and unintentional witty dialog. It's a major work and without much argument the quintessential work of the filmmaker.
On the other hand, we get The Devil's Eye, which is more of a minor work, done by Bergman, admittedly, as a work-for-hire project in order to direct the Virgin Spring that same year. It's a comedy, as we're told right from the get-go by the 'narrator' of the story Gunnar Bjornstrand about the old 'sty in the eye' proverb where Satan will deflower a virgin to get rid of it (in this case he sends Don Juan, whose been spending 300 years in a loop of the same failed courtship in hell with his compadre Pablo, to do it for him on a Nordic girl about to get married). And yet this comedy of sorts, which is filled with sly moments and turns of performances that are uncharacteristically campy for a Bergman film, also has some dark connotations about infidelity and desire and love in the face of evil. It might be a minor work, but it's probably one of the director's strongest and most underrated.
In fact, I'd wager that Bergman put more work into this than he'd even care to cop to: the design of hell itself is ingenious, akin to the No Exit set with Satan in a suit and cool but firm demeanor played by Stig Jarrel, and a constant flame burning behind his quaint book-room setting, and his servants being prissy-looking chaps out of some French royal palace. Bergman also casts this really wonderfully, with Don Juan played by Daniel Craig-look-alike Jarl Kulle with his suave demeanor but sad interior coming out some of the time, and Nils Poppe (who also played the cheery Virgin-Mary hallucinator Jof in Seventh Seal) as the aloof Parson whose daughter is to marry/possibly be seduced.
Bergman also gets some laughs and some surprisingly tender scenes between the Parson's wife Renata and Pablo and the Demon put on assignment by Satan to keep watch on Pablo only to end up in 'Satan's Closet' that the Parson has set up for just such an occasion. It's clever on top of this that the intended goals are reversed in the scope of Britt-Marie (Bibi Andersson) and his mother Renata in terms of their seductions and falling from graces. There's a lot of devilish (some pun intended) fun to be had I wouldn't want to reveal, but suffice to say that Bergman has his cake and eats it too: he crafts a pleasurably stylish picture loaded with his intriguing and occasionally deep conversations about love and the nature of Heaven and Hell and Satan and God. It may be 'light' material, but in its own limitations it's a more satisfying effort than the good but overrated Wild Strawberries.