The Magician (Ansiktet) (1958)

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Movie Info

A magician of dubious talents, Vogler (Max Von Sydow) and his traveling show are called to entertain at the home of the local police commissioner. Set in Stockholm in the 1840's, Vogler's powers are put on display for the commissioner, a doctor, and a civil servant. Despite the magicians questionable abilities, many strange and mysterious events transpire to illustrate man's fascination with the murky world of the unexplainable answers to love, life and death.

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Cast

Max von Sydow
as Albert Emanuel Vogler
Ingrid Thulin
as Manda Vogler/Mr. Aman
Bibi Andersson
as Sara Lindqvist
Gunnar Bjornstrand
as Dr. Vergerus
Toivo Pawlo
as Starbeck
Sif Ruud
as Sofia
Oscar Ljung
as Antonsson
Ulla Sjöblom
as Henrietta
Naima Wifstrand
as Grandmother
Tor Borong
as Customs officer
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Critic Reviews for The Magician (Ansiktet)

All Critics (10) | Top Critics (2)

The movie has elements of Gothic horror and philosophy, along with lusty, low comedy rolls.

Dec 7, 2007 | Rating: 3/4 | Full Review…

It is one of Bergman's most tightly structured and frightening films.

Jul 30, 2007 | Full Review…

Like the subject it portrays, it is a movie that genuinely seems to sense the guilty delight of life's unending irony.

Nov 15, 2015 | Full Review…

Tremendously important Bergman, even it it doesn't have the instant cachet of his more famous and direct movies.

Jun 3, 2013 | Rating: 8/10 | Full Review…

Both a rebuke to critics and a confession of charlatanism, The Magician puts forward a one-of-a-kind examination of the problem of truth in life and in art. [Blu-ray]

Nov 3, 2010 | Rating: 3.5/4 | Full Review…

reflects Bergman's fundamental understanding of the cinema as an illusionistic play of light and shadow that can nonetheless reveal some of the deepest recesses of the human experience

Oct 17, 2010 | Rating: 3/4 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for The Magician (Ansiktet)

every time i watch a bergman film for the first time, the thing i'm most excited for is encountering new, interesting characters. i think the characters in this film are among his absolute best and most interesting. in fact, i loved everything about this film until the very end, when the last ten minutes sort of fell a part for me, but the entirety of the film is still quite good, and the tension of the overall concept of empirical reality vs. the supernatural is one that needs to be explored in film more often.

danny d
danny d

Super Reviewer

½

In "The Magician," Albert Vogler(Max Von Sydow), magician, is traveling through the countryside with his protege, Aman(Ingrid Thulin), grandmother(Naima Wifstrand) and manager, Tubal(Ake Fridell), when they come upon Johan(Bengt Ekerot), an actor who is very ill. Their new passenger dies but it is not his body that the authorities are curious about. Rather, Dr. Vergerus(Gunnar Bjornstrand), Police Superintendant Starbeck(Toivo Pawlo) and Consul Egerman(Erland Josephson) have some very pointed questions about the act and wish to see him perform on the following day. "The Magician" is a darkly engaging movie from Ingmar Bergman that does a neat job of keeping the audience off balance. By that I mean, both the audience in the movie and the one watching the movie. The movie is set in 1846 when reason was starting to take hold but superstition was still ingrained enough in the consciousness to give power to what Vogler is trying to do. On another level, it is about the fine line between performance and reality for an artist. As Kurt Vonnegut put it in the preface for his novel "Mother Night," we are what we pretend to be.(That sound you hear is Stephen Colbert having the mother of all existential crises.) By the way, this is probably also the first time a law enforcement officer is referred to as a pig.

Walter M.
Walter M.

Super Reviewer

Sort've a similar set-up to The Seventh Seal. There's another great ensemble cast led by the towering Scandinavian known as Max Von Sydow. This isn't so much a historical commentary, but rather a specific look at the effects of science on professions like magicians. The doubt and suspense concerning the legitimacy of Vogler's act is really such a nice aspect. It?M)s been later used in movies like The Illusionist and The Prestige, but nothing since has quite the same authenticity of mysticism and rich storytelling. Ingmar Bergman's vision is so unbelievably present in this and I feel that it's one of his more overlooked works. I think that it's not so filled with subjective imagery is probably what makes it so unique. This manages to have the same feeling, but at the same time a completely different way of achieving it. It's not really part of any genre, which is what is my favorite thing. Bergman kind've is a genre in itself and a great one at that.

Conner Rainwater
Conner Rainwater

Super Reviewer

½

Max von Sydow, Gunner Bjornstrand and Ingrid Thulin are three of Bergman's most consistent quality performers and all three have major roles in this film. There are a fair number of stereotypical character parts, mostly performed by ensemble quality character actors. Bibi Andersson is capable of far more than her giggly girl part enables her to show in this film. Indeed, there is some comedic material in this film reminiscent of Smiles of a Summer Night, but don't mistake this movie for one of Bergman's less masterful light pieces, this has real depth and substance. There are some amazing bits of cinematography, especially the early scenes. The pacing of the movie is masterful, as is the clever use of parallels in the story - the failed actor "dying" and then reviving is a prelude to the pivotal incident around Vogler's "demise". Top notch scenes include Mrs Egerman opening up to Vogler - she seems so lost - also both scenes in which Bjornstrand's character (Vergerus) insists that he was not taken in by the "magic".

Cassandra Maples
Cassandra Maples

Super Reviewer

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