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A Few Words About A few words about...™ Ingmar Bergman's Cinema -- in Blu-ray

Discussion in 'Blu-ray and UHD' started by Robert Harris, Dec 5, 2018.

  1. Message #1 of 42 Dec 5, 2018
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 8, 2018
    Robert Harris

    Robert Harris Archivist
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    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.


    Never again.

    Nope.

    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.


    Seriously?

    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

    RAH

     
  2. ahollis

    ahollis Lead Actor
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    I’m going through this set film by film two each week so I have time to reflect on each film.
     
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  3. Robert Harris

    Robert Harris Archivist
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    Hopefully, you find the package, as amazing as I.
     
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  4. Patrick McCart

    Patrick McCart Lead Actor

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    I pre-ordered this as soon as the Barnes & Noble sale started, but even Criterion's online store price of $240 or even the full MSRP are bargains considering you're getting 39 feature films in HD plus extras and a book. I've only seen four Bergman films prior to receiving the set - The Seventh Seal, Wild Strawberries, Persona, and Fanny and Alexander (theatrical cut). All four are essential. I watched my first new film, Smiles of a Summer Night, a few nights ago.

    The box set is quite a sight - it's actually taller than the laserdisc-sized Lawrence of Arabia and Sgt. Pepper deluxe sets.

    While a set like this is largely possible thanks to Bergman's films being mostly centralized - of the 39 films, only five aren't owned by Svensk Filmindustri - I hope the success of this leads to Criterion issuing similar collections for other filmmakers.
     
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  5. Robert Harris

    Robert Harris Archivist
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    From your lips, Patrick!
     
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  6. Mark-P

    Mark-P Producer

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    It really is an incredible package. I'm relishing every bit of it. Fanny & Alexander is the perfect choice for the holiday season.
     
  7. atcolomb

    atcolomb Screenwriter

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    I put Wild Strawberries on my top 20 favorite films of all time. The Seventh Seal my second favorite from Bergman. Will get the set very soon.
     
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  8. bgart13

    bgart13 Screenwriter

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    I imagine the only other set that this might come close to would be the Herschell Gordon Lewis boxset from Arrow. I bet HG never would’ve dreamt some Swede would dare try to have his cinematic output held up to his...
     
  9. Message #9 of 42 Dec 6, 2018
    Last edited: Dec 6, 2018
    PMF

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    The only thing more thrilling than this Bergman offering is the fact that each and every boxed-set had rapidly sold-out. Did I want one? You bet. Did I get one? Nope. But this is the very first time that my being left out in the cold has warmed me inside and out. The undertaking of this epic project must have been exhaustive; but its end results have proven to be wildly successful. Such good news for Criterion and all involved; as well as for physical media. Looking forward to February and its second pressing.:)
     
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  10. JoeDoakes

    JoeDoakes Cinematographer

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    Great review. When will you be discussing Mole People?
     
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  11. bujaki

    bujaki Cinematographer

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    Our government-owned TV station in Puerto Rico showed most of the early Bergman films so I was weaned on them from an early age. I was thunderstruck by Torment (written by Bergman) as a pre-adolescent, and was amused when the channel showed Winter Light during Holy Week. I saw The Virgin Spring when it premiered (I was 11-12) because the priests in our boarding school asked us not to see it. I thought it extraordinary. And thus I began to follow Bergman throughout my life.
    I welcomed this set in my house and so should anyone who has any regard for great films. The masterpieces far outweigh the duds.
     
  12. Message #12 of 42 Dec 6, 2018
    Last edited: Dec 6, 2018
    theonemacduff

    theonemacduff Second Unit

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    Like Bujaki (#11), I watched a lot of Bergman on one of our local TV stations, which showed almost all the films available to that point (1970) on something that was called "International Theatre," and which aired long after I was supposed to already be in bed. It included Seventh Seal, Virgin Spring, Monika and Wild Strawberries. The latter I had for a long time on VHS, and watched it multiple times. I also remember seeing, and have kept it in mind ever since, a scene in To Joy, where the envious husband is finally given his chance to solo with the orchestra – and he blows it. The playing for that scene was very good, but you can hear, and see on his face, that he knows he hasn't quite nailed it. Brilliant acting and direction. Having the boxed set means I can now gift my son with some of my old discs. I'm going to start him off on Fanny & Alexander for Christmas.
     
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  13. Michael Osadciw

    Michael Osadciw Screenwriter

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    Looks like I'll need to wait for the repress.
     
  14. B-ROLL

    B-ROLL Screenwriter

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    I believe Criterion has a half-price sale on their website around February ... But I pre-ordered this and Ambersons pretty much on day one of the B&N sale ...Now to find the time to watch the Bergman set ...
     
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  15. ShellOilJunior

    ShellOilJunior Stunt Coordinator

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    The best praise I can give for The Virgin Spring is that if I told someone who has not seen the film exactly how the story will unfold it would not lessen the film's power at all. I think what Bergman accomplished is a film that's a parable. Timeless. I'll be getting around to it in my viewing schedule this weekend.
     
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  16. Dave B Ferris

    Dave B Ferris Screenwriter

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    Going quite a few years back, the Murnau/Borzage DVD box set from Fox might have actually set the template. That one, though, supposedly sold poorly, and was (also supposedly) one of the reasons Fox reduced their output.
     
  17. PMF

    PMF Producer

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    BTW, I wonder how long it took for Criterion and all to achieve this entire project?

    39 films just don't happen over night.
    Such a colossal undertaking.:cheers:
     
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  18. Felix Martinez

    Felix Martinez Screenwriter

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    I was very fortunate to get this thru Amazon, before stock ran out. It is an exquisite set, with so much effort and thought into the presentation, sequence, etc that it is mind-boggling. Taking my time going thru the films (in the order presented), and then after each film reading the respective section of the book.
     
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  19. Message #19 of 42 Dec 8, 2018
    Last edited: Dec 9, 2018
    PMF

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    I guess we'd need a Bergman expert for the answer, but what is to come of those few remaining films not found within this collection? Make no mistake, Svensk Filmindustri, The Swedish Film Institute and Criterion pulled out all the stops, held nothing back and generously gifted us with each and every existing title to be found within their houses to produce this magnificent boxed-set known as Ingmar Bergman's Cinema; which has sold-out quicker than anything I have ever known. But, as I eagerly await to make purchase of the projected second pressing in February, I find myself envisioning a junior collection to compliment this milestone of physical media and home viewing. Could Criterion actually capture such isolated contracts in conjunction with those who maintain the rights to those few remaining titles? IMHO, if Criterion were to pursue and package, it may very well prove itself to being a coup de gras of completion and uniformity.
     
  20. Patrick McCart

    Patrick McCart Lead Actor

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    There's four 1946-1950 films omitted (all seeming to be SI or Folkets properties), the 1976 film Face to Face (currently licensed from Paramount to Olive Films), and two TV movies (both owned by SVT, it seems).
     
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