THE RITE
RITEN
1969, Janus Films, 72 min, Sweden, Dir: Ingmar Bergman

In one of Ingmar Bergman’s most stylized and political films, three traveling actors are accused of taking part in a performance deemed pornographic by the state’s authorities. Before an intractable judge, they are forced to defend themselves and their art, but their own personal flaws and scandals also are brought to the fore. Taking place in a shadowy bureaucratic netherworld, the film confronts artistic censorship while also investigating such Bergman-esque themes as sexual violence and the nature of performance.


WINTER LIGHT
NATTVARDSGÄSTERNA
1962, Janus Films, 80 min, Sweden, Dir: Ingmar Bergman

“God, why did you desert me?” Master craftsman Ingmar Bergman explores the search for redemption in a meaningless existence in this stark depiction of spiritual crisis. Small-town pastor Tomas Ericsson (Gunnar Björnstrand) performs his duties mechanically before a dwindling congregation; when he is asked to assist with a troubled parishioner’s (Max von Sydow) debilitating fear of nuclear annihilation, Tomas is terrified to find that he can provide nothing but his own uncertainty. Beautifully photographed by Sven Nykvist, WINTER LIGHT is an unsettling look at the human craving for personal validation in a world seemingly abandoned by God.


A LESSON IN LOVE
EN LEKTION I KÄRLEK
1954, Janus Films, 95 min, Sweden, Dir: Ingmar Bergman

One of Bergman’s most satisfying marital comedies stars the droll and sparkling duo of Eva Dahlbeck and Gunnar Björnstrand as a couple deep into their married years and seeking fresh pastures. A gynecologist (Björnstrand) falls for one of his patients (Yvonne Lombard), while his wife (Dahlbeck) flounces off to Copenhagen to renew her fling with a sculptor (Åke Grönberg). Deftly interspersing scenes of farce with interludes of tranquil reflection, A LESSON IN LOVE serves as a cocktail before the full-blown comic brilliance of SMILES OF A SUMMER NIGHT the following year.


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