The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part
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Don't just take our word for it. 'A bona fide fiasco,' was Bergman's own assessment of his directorial debut.
Thanks to four great performances, Crisis largely works, despite its uneven screenplay.
This seems to be a film best suited for Bergman completists.
Crude by the director's later standards but still an interesting melodrama into which he poured many of his early ideas.
Bookended with unnecessary off screen narrative descriptions of the idyllic village, Crisis unfolds as a simplistic morality play with one dimensional cardboard cutout characters.
In "Crisis," Ingeborg(Dagny Lind), a piano teacher in a small town who suffers from poor health and finances, has raised Nelly(Inga Landgre), now 18, as if she was her own daughter. Arriving from the city via bus is Jenny(Marianne Lofgren), Nelly's birth mother, with a beautiful dress for her, and her half-nephew Jack(Stig Olin) one step behind her. At the ball that night, it is boring until Jack takes charge of things. Afterwards, Ulf(Allan Bohlin) who rents a room from Ingeborg takes offense at Jack's advances towards Nelly who he intends to propose to.
"Crisis" is the debut film from Ingmar Bergman and already we can see some of the trademarks and flourishes(namely the ball scene and a later dream sequence) that would become emblematic of his great career. That is even with the cliched story he has been saddled with(based on a play) that is pure soap opera about two mothers(although not in a 'Heather Has Two Mommies' sort of way), both epitomizing the generally accepted traits of their residences, the stifling comfort of the country and gilded beauty of the city. So in a movie that is so much about three women, it might seem odd that Stig Olin runs away with the movie.
bergmans writing makes interesting a film that had an otherwise simple plot. a film about mothers and daughters and the loss of innocence, which also compares city life to life in a small town. the film was shot well and its characters were interesting. very good film.
What a thrill to finally see Ingmar Bergman's directorial debut, "Crisis." Why did it take me so many years to track it down? Bergman is considered by most cinephiles (myself included) to be one of the best filmmakers of all time. And he would probably win the most votes for absolute best of all time. Yet I've never even heard of his early films, much less seen them! Boggles the mind.
"Crisis" isn't hard to find in the US, thanks to the Criterion Collection, which has done an incredible job in the last 25 years of rescuing the world's greatest films from celluloid disintegration. Someone please give the Criterion founders a Nobel Prize. And thanks to Netflix for making Criterion DVDs available for rent. I hear that the entire Criterion Collection is also now available for streaming on Hulu's subscription service. Life is so good sometimes that I feel like I'm going to burst.
"Crisis," I have to say, is more a feat of screenwriting than of direction. Bergman is known as a director, but he should also be known as a screenwriter. He wrote most of his films, perhaps even all of them, including "Crisis." It has the look and feel of a standard 1940s melodrama, complete with cheap movie music that swells up at emotional moments the way it does in classics of the era such as "Stella Dallas" or "Mildred Pierce."
But oh how the script breaks with the 1940s mold. It starts off in a fairly ordinary fashion, with a charming girl being raised in a charming small town and being courted by a charming doctor. Then a couple of odd plot turns brings the girl to the big city (presumably Stockholm), and slowly but surely the story gets darker.
I replayed several scenes to drink in the rich, oblique dialogue that hinted at deep icebergs of desire and confusion inside each of the characters. How many times is dialogue so packed with poetry and meaning that you have to play it again and again just to wrap your mind around it? I haven't done that in years.
Rather than melodrama, I'd describe "Crisis" as psychodrama. It's not a masterpiece, but it shows the young Bergman (he wasn't even 30 when he made the film!) bursting out of the gate and already galloping in the directions that would make him a worldwide legend a dozen years later. I cannot wait to explore more of his early films.
Bergman's adaptation of Leck Fischer's play behaves like a stage play that has been slightly adapted for the screen. It is essentially a chamber melodrama and it makes little use of the cinema's expanded scope. The film is watchable and the cast is competent. Almost everything about it is competent. It was Bergman's first go at directing a film. He was 27/28 years old at the time.
Bergman is clearly influenced by Ibsen - I say "is", because the old master (nearly 85 years old now) is still at it on the stage - I have the privilege to hold tickets to see his adaptation of Ibsen's Ghosts in London May 2003 - can't wait. Kris is clearly influenced by Ibsen, but while the piece has borrowed Ibsen's mastery of structure and development, Kris lacks depth. If Ibsen is grand opera, Kris is operetta. Bergman had not yet acquired the skill to turn a minor play into a major film.
There is the odd hint of greatness to come, in particular the railway scene between Jack and Ingeborg. There is also the odd interesting camera angle. But some of the cutting is amateurish and the music is ghastly.
If the weatherman tells you that there is going to be a tremendous storm, you do not need to be a genius to recognise that the wispy breeze is a prelude to that storm. In the absence of that weather forecast, you could be forgiven for not recognising the breeze as an early hint at the big one. So it is with this film. Because we know it is Bergman, we see hints of greatness to come. Otherwise this would seem like an (admittedly above average) ordinary 1940's film.
Bergman aficionados will enjoy it, but it should be quite a way down the list for people who want to start discovering the greatness of Bergman's work.
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