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Djävulens öga (The Devil's Eye) Reviews

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Cassandra M

Super Reviewer

December 13, 2009
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.
Rubia

Super Reviewer

May 3, 2009
An excentric comedy with all Bergman´s major subjects: religion, love and the nature of existence. His view of the hell and its punishements is great and the "devil in the closet" is just hilarious!
Eric B

Super Reviewer

March 28, 2012
Being one of Ingmar Bergman's rare comedies, "The Devil's Eye" doesn't get discussed much. But who could resist a Bergman film about Satan and his minions?

Adapted from a play, "The Devil's Eye" finds the Prince of Darkness (Stig Jarrel) tormented by a painfully infected eye. Why? Because the unthinkable is about to happen: Beautiful maiden Britt-Marie (Bibi Andersson) is set to marry her true love Jonas, and her virginity is still righteously intact. Such happy endings will not do. So, Satan pulls Don Juan (Kari Julle) out of his private Hell (his sentence is to charm woman after woman, only to have them vanish when sex is imminent) and assigns him a limited time back on Earth to seduce poor Britt-Marie. His attendant Pablo (Sture Lagerwall) tags along, plus a crotchety demon chaperone (Ragnar Arvedson). The latter spends most of his time on the surface disguised as an ordinary black cat.

Once Don Juan manipulates his way into the home of Britt-Marie and her parents, he quickly gets to work. As if the situation weren't tangled enough already, depraved Pablo soon falls for Britt-Marie's restless mother. The ineffectual father -- who also happens to be the town vicar -- is bewildered, but eventually strikes back against his wicked visitors.

There are no great truths revealed in this light tale, but it does benefit from a morally ambiguous ending with a tart aftertaste. If there's any significant problem, it's the casting of Lagerwall, who just seems too old and homely to play such a lusty, irresistible scoundrel.

Bergman favorite Gunnar Bjornstrand turns up in a puzzling Rod Serling guise, adding intermittent onscreen narration that doesn't seem particularly necessary.
Anthony V

Super Reviewer

June 27, 2008
Lesser Bergman is still fun.
December 6, 2012
Pleasant and witty, though too frivolous and superficial to be taken seriously as an esoteric drama or a supernatural farce.
Eric B

Super Reviewer

March 28, 2012
Being one of Ingmar Bergman's rare comedies, "The Devil's Eye" doesn't get discussed much. But who could resist a Bergman film about Satan and his minions?

Adapted from a play, "The Devil's Eye" finds the Prince of Darkness (Stig Jarrel) tormented by a painfully infected eye. Why? Because the unthinkable is about to happen: Beautiful maiden Britt-Marie (Bibi Andersson) is set to marry her true love Jonas, and her virginity is still righteously intact. Such happy endings will not do. So, Satan pulls Don Juan (Kari Julle) out of his private Hell (his sentence is to charm woman after woman, only to have them vanish when sex is imminent) and assigns him a limited time back on Earth to seduce poor Britt-Marie. His attendant Pablo (Sture Lagerwall) tags along, plus a crotchety demon chaperone (Ragnar Arvedson). The latter spends most of his time on the surface disguised as an ordinary black cat.

Once Don Juan manipulates his way into the home of Britt-Marie and her parents, he quickly gets to work. As if the situation weren't tangled enough already, depraved Pablo soon falls for Britt-Marie's restless mother. The ineffectual father -- who also happens to be the town vicar -- is bewildered, but eventually strikes back against his wicked visitors.

There are no great truths revealed in this light tale, but it does benefit from a morally ambiguous ending with a tart aftertaste. If there's any significant problem, it's the casting of Lagerwall, who just seems too old and homely to play such a lusty, irresistible scoundrel.

Bergman favorite Gunnar Bjornstrand turns up in a puzzling Rod Serling guise, adding intermittent onscreen narration that doesn't seem particularly necessary.
geojones
April 16, 2007
Directed by Ingmar Bergman
Starring Bibi Andersson, Gunnar Bjornstrand, Jarl Kulie

Don Juan is in hell and repeating the same amorous play over and over until Satan who has a sty in his eye orders him back to Earth to woo a girl whose virtues may be the cause. With his faithful consort Pablo, Don Juan reemerges in Sweden and discovers that a lot has changed in women since his time. BergmanÕs comedy has moments of allure and beautiful pages of lines but feels awkward at times. More times than what is necessary. The idea started out nicely but crumbles as it turns stale with over-execution and over-emphasis. As usual, cinematography is grand and acting inspired but not enough to make this a great one.

Best Scene: Don Juan introduces himself to the girl.
QUOTE: Don Juan: ÒVice is my virtue, debauchery my asceticism, impiety my religion.Ó
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