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An informative look into Bergman's filmmaking process, but t
Christopher Culver | 12/03/2008
(3 out of 5 stars)
"In 1962, as the director Ingmar Bergman was making his cinematic masterpiece NATTVARDSGAESTERNA (Winter Light), he allowed the budding filmmaker Vilgot Sjoman to chart the entire course of production, from the writing of the script to the final cuts, and to interview Bergman after the critics responded to the work's premiere. The result is an interesting documentary for anyone who loves NATTVARDSGAESTERNA. Note that you'd do best to get both the film and the documentary about it together in the Criterion Collection box set of Bergman's "chamber trilogy".
It's very fascinating to meet Bergman's collaborators such as cinematographer Sven Nykvist and hearing them talk about their way of approaching Bergman's script. We see exactly how Bergman created a number of scenes. For example, when Tomas says to the couple "We must trust in God", we are presented with each of the several shots from which Bergman composed the dramatic awkward silence which follows (all three, Jonas and his wife, Jonas alone). My appreciation for the actors only grew, and it's impressive to see the dedication of Gunnar Bjornstrand, for example, to his part.
The documentary is particulary important as one of the few complete chronicles of the auteur process at the height of that filmmaking approach in the early 1960s. The downside of the film is that the interviews between Sjoman and Bergman charting Bergman's thought process can be very dull and tiresome. Bergman's comments are interesting, but his delivery of them is generally hesitant and uncertain. I would have enjoyed much more simply reading a text of the interviews. Nonetheless, we cannot get that, and Sjoman's film will have to do to chart the creation of such a beautiful and, for me, life-changing film."