Winter Movies - I
Summer Interlude, 1951
A film by Ingmar Bergman
Long, cold winter nights usually bring out the Melancholy Scandinavian in me. In order to appease the dark gods I watch an Ingmar Bergman film. I've seen many of them but the earlier releases are hard to come by so I was intrigued when I saw a DVD of this title in my library.
The film takes place in two time frames, set twenty years apart. Marie (Maj-Britt Nilsson) is a aging ballerina who knows her days as a performer are numbered. She is romantically pursued by a reporter but shuts him off when there is a chance of intimacy. She takes a ferry to a summer home in the Stockholm archipelago where she remembers a youthful affair. The The affair is ended by tragedy, and Marie ends up under the spell of her creepy "uncle" who encourages her to build an emotional wall to prevent her from being overcome with grief. Many of Bergman's standard tropes are on view here: shots with mirrors, corrupt clergy, chess matches, grotesque characters. The scenes of the young people in love are sometimes naive and quaint yet at time passionate, possessing a subtle beauty, revealed by the cinematography by Gunnar Fischer (The Seventh Seal, Wild Strawberries, Smiles of a Summer Night). The images are worth watching for their own sake.
The Saddest Music in the World, 2003
A film by Guy Maddin
Set in Winnipeg in the winter of 1933 (where the snow is eight feet deep), this strange, dream-like fantasy has to be seen to be appreciated—a description can hardly do it justice. It was very loosely based on a screenplay by Kazuo Ishiguro. Baroness Helen Port-Huntley (Isabella Rossellini) announces a competition to find the saddest music in the world—a publicity stunt to promote her brewery. What follows is an inspired sequence of performances, coupled with a back story involving Helen, an "American" producer, his alcoholic father (who had amputated Helen's legs in error) and a pair of prosthetic glass legs filled with beer! A perfect winter's film, mostly black and white, with portions shot on super-8!
Monday: Inside Llewyn Davis, The Secret Life of Walter Mitty