Sawdust and Tinsel
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This early film by Ingmar Bergman, made before his international hits Smiles of a Summer Night and The Seventh Seal, was vilified by critics when it first came out (one referring to it as "a piece of vomit"), but with time has earned a reputation as one of the master filmmaker's first important works. Sawdust and Tinsel touches on many of Bergman's standard themes--vanishing love, godless existences, the redemptive power of theater--in its telling of a disillusioned circus owner (Åke Grönberg) and his young mistress (Harriet Andersson of Bergman's Through a Glass Darkly) as they set up for yet another performance in a small town. Both contemplate leaving the circus and each other, as Grönberg pays a visit to his now-independent wife (an exceptional Annika Tretow), and Andersson allows herself to be seduced by a local actor (Hasse Ekman), only to find herself used and humiliated. One can see traces of the melancholy Smiles of a Summer Night in the romantic roundelays that start out bright and end up bitter--the constructs may be farcical at times, but the emotions are raw and heartfelt. And stylistically, from the first frame the film evokes strong similarities to The Seventh Seal; in fact, this film marks the first collaboration of Bergman and his legendary cinematographer Sven Nykvist. Despite some awkward dialogue and a static pace, Sawdust and Tinsel shows a young, assured Bergman finding his way to the themes and techniques that would define his later films. A must-see for Bergman aficionados. --Mark Englehart --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top Customer Reviews
I can understand why. The overly melodramatic main story of love and
betrayal in a small-time circus is pretty banal stuff.
But for me the film was saved by the beautiful images of the first
Bergman/Sven Nyqvist teaming, and the short prologue piece - far braver
and more experimental than the main body of the film itself - of a
clown from the same circus and his humiliating love for an aging diva,
It's so much more interesting than the very similarly themed main story
that the device sort of backfires.
Still, this is full enough with bravery, images and ideas, that it can
compensate for its heavy- handed or over-the-top moments.
A circus owner (Gronberg) arrives in his former hometown after an absence of seven years, when he left behind his wife and his two little boys. He hasn't seen them since, and has taken up a new lover: a young, coquettish, simple-minded girl who performs in his circus (Anderson). When the the circus owner decides to pay a visit to his former family, Anderson becomes intensely jealous, thinking that he is leaving her to return to his family. "Fear becomes what is feared" when, sensing abandonment, Anderson allows herself to be seduced by a young actor. Likewise, thinking that his new lover has run off, Gronberg makes a desperate attempt to reconcile with his family. A morbid and most pathetically depressing emotional climax is reached when all the cards are laid on the table at the circus's performance.
The acting/directing in this movie is Bergman at his finest; a 'spontaneous' (thoroughly coordinated) guttoral instinctiveness is pounded on like an out-of-tune piano chord: the emotional progress of the characters in the film is at once difficult to watch, for its ugliness, and strangely attractive.Read more ›
Most recent customer reviews
A new generation of Bergman viewers has begun to discover that many of the lesser-known films by the great Swedish director are among his very best, or, one should say, they speak... Read morePublished on Dec 16 2000
Sawdust and Tinsel is not an exceptional work by Ingmar Bergman. But still it is highly praised by many fans who love his specific cinematic expression. Read morePublished on April 29 2000
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