As full disclosure I’d seen enough of Mr. Bergman’s work by 1968.
My professor, Haig Manoogian, continued running them – again, and again, and again – Seventh Seal, The Magician, Wild Strawberries, along with the work of other Swedish filmmakers, the enchanting 8 1/2, and the ever confusing L’Avventura – until we were able to discuss them shot by shot.
And by the end of my tenure with him, I’d had enough.
It was time for Blow-up, and a sci-fi flick, 2001, and The Wild Bunch, and others.
But no more Bergman.
And then I’d begin to think about them, and miss them.
Even to a point of collecting the Criterion discs as they were released, along with DVDs of the titles controlled by M-G-M.
But now the world is a different place, and one might consider the new Collection from Criterion as a bit of respite from the world around us. Taking us to better places and different times, in Sweden.
As I was viewing part of Wild Strawberries, one of my favorites, I was amazed at the clarity of the images spawned by these new restoration – whether derived from OCN’s, or fine grains, or whatever.
Seeing the new disc of Wild Strawberries had me thinking how nice it might be to sit back and sip from a glass of ’82 Marguax or a nice domestic Caymus.
These films, and this set are the special.
I was trying to equate the set with something else that sits on my shelves, almost anything of it’s import and quality.
Closest that I could muster was Fox’s beautiful DVD set of the Ford films, but even that isn’t close.
This set is a monumental undertaking, and as the physical media entities contract, and production slows, a huge risk.
But, apparently, the first run is gone, and more will be struck.
The set, which weighs in at around seven pounds, comes with a gorgeous perfect bound book on the subject.
And it’s worth its weight in gold.
Sampling ten or so films, I realized that I’d never seen any of them looking or sounding as they do via this Collection.
I was seeing details in Wild Strawberries, blacks, grays, shadow detail, and overall resolution, that was amazing to behold.
And it should be, as by chance, WS survived as an original camera negative.
Svensk Filmindustri, along with The Swedish Film Institute has stepped up to the plate on these films, doing the necessary restoration work. And I’m certain there was a mountain of it, as these films have been over-loved throughout the decades.
I’ll occasionally chide Criterion for calling everything a “restoration.”
Not here, as this is the real thing.
The set has an MSRP of $300 but can currently (I believe) still be had for half that because of the Barnes & Noble sale, being matched by Amazon.
39 feature films, magnificently reproduced on Blu-ray representing the legacy of one of the great filmmakers.
Take a mortgage, sell a kidney, do what’s necessary, but get a copy of this release, while its in print, in its original form.
Even at list price, that works out to less than $8 a film, and discounted less than $4.
The gorgeous book, the steak knives, and toaster oven are free.
As Mssrs. Ebert & Siskel rarely said…
“Two thumbs up, and they couldn’t possibly be held higher!”
Image – 5
Audio – 5
Pass / Fail – Pass
Upgrade from earlier DVDs and Blu-ray – Without a doubt!
Very Highly Recommended