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A Really Weird Blu-ray Double Bill: SMILES OF A SUMMER'S NIGHT +A BUCKET OF BLOOD (1 Viewer)

lark144

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mark gross
So this is basically a review of these two films/Blu-Rays; more aesthetic than PQ oriented. I ended up watching both together kind of by accident--they were both on sale at Amazon last week--and they were shipped out together, and I discovered the two films have a lot more in common than I thought.

I watched SMILES OF A SUMMER'S NIGHT first. Why didn't Bergman ever make anything similar? Apparently, his early slices of gloom weren't successful, so his film company, Svensk, was terminating their contract with him unless he came up with something that made money. Well, SMILES OF A SUMMER'S NIGHT made so much money that Bergman was able to lay on the gloom and doom forever after; though of course I love PERSONA, though it's not what I would call warm and fuzzy, and underneath the warm, romantic surfaces of SMILES OF A SUMMER'S NIGHT, there's a great deal of tragedy lurking. But of course that's it's genius: to combine the good with the bad and the sweet with the sad. And what seems to be the magic elixir that turns the trick is laughter.

And that is what SMILES OF A SUMMER'S NIGHT has in common with A BUCKET OF BLOOD. Both films deal with tragic, dark, even horrible occurrences that are magically transformed through laughter. Both films are lighter than air, and secure in their touch of the worlds they create; both filled with artists, the rich people that fund them, and the various hanger-ons, especially women. Both films are about that difficult to find interface between creativity and love. And both films feature a main character who is utterly, magnificently un-creative no matter how hard he tries. The manner in which those two characters find love is a little different: the inept waiter in BUCKET OF BLOOD accidentally killing living things and passing it off as art; and the pompous lawyer in SMILES OF A SUMMER'S NIGHT by losing everything and going through a kind of death and rebirth.

Now, I didn't know this when I initially ordered them together. They just happened to be on sale and I wanted to watch them. I wasn't even planning on watching both of them that night. I was just checking out how they looked visually (in a word, magnificent, so I was able to see a lot more in them than I had before) and got caught up in both and watched them all the way through. Also, both films are stone-cold masterpieces. A BUCKET OF BLOOD is finally in a 4K version taken from the originally negative, and while I thought this would simply reveal the tawdriness of its low budget, in fact, within that context, the film is as beautifully lit and inventively composed in black and white as SMILES AS A SUMMER'S NIGHT. I always thought BUCKET OF BLOOD was an excellent film, I just didn't realize how good it really is. So, while that double bill was more or less accidental, it turned out to be an inspired choice, as both films illuminate each other, both are masterpieces, and both use the same basic situation and characters to explore similar themes.
 
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