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Djävulens öga (The Devil's Eye)

Djävulens öga (The Devil's Eye) (1961)


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Critic Reviews: 2
Fresh: 1 | Rotten: 1



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Movie Info

Acceding to the literal interpretation of the folk-saying "A virgin is a sty in the devil's eye," Satan employs a reincarnated Don Juan (Jarl Kulle) to seduce Britt-Marie, the young daughter (Bibi Andersson) of a country parson. Poor Don Juan falls in love with the girl, however, while his servant Pablo (Sture Lagerwall) attempts to do the same with her mother. One of Bergman's few direct comedies (he even reassures viewers of the fact in a note titled "Dear Frightened Audience"), Devil's Eye

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All Critics (6) | Top Critics (2) | Fresh (4) | Rotten (2)

A minor, clever, somewhat symbolixed comedy by Sweden's Ingmar Bergman.

July 22, 2013 Full Review Source: TIME Magazine
TIME Magazine
Top Critic IconTop Critic

The dominant impression, though, as in so many early Bergman movies, is of a deep pessimism that is imposed rather than felt as necessary or productive.

July 22, 2013 Full Review Source: Time Out
Time Out
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Further proof that Bergman had a lively sense of humour as well as an unusual ability to plumb the depths of the human psyche.

July 22, 2013 Full Review Source: Film4

Bergman with Mozart in one hand and Goethe in the other, out to prove that comedy is as desolating as tragedy

February 4, 2010 Full Review Source: CinePassion

Before the third act ended, I had a pain in the rear part of my anatomy.

September 18, 2007 Full Review Source: Ozus' World Movie Reviews
Ozus' World Movie Reviews

[A] fanciful comedy by Ingmar Bergman.

August 29, 2006 Full Review Source: TV Guide's Movie Guide
TV Guide's Movie Guide

Audience Reviews for Djävulens öga (The Devil's Eye)

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.
December 13, 2009

Super Reviewer

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!
May 8, 2009

Super Reviewer

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.
April 4, 2012
Eric Broome

Super Reviewer

Lesser Bergman is still fun.
June 27, 2008

Super Reviewer

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Foreign Titles

  • The Devil's Eye (Djavulens oga) (DE)
  • The Devil's Eye (Djavulens oga) (UK)
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