Ingmar Bergman’s The Magician (Ansiktet) is an engaging, brilliantly conceived tale of deceit from one of cinema’s premier illusionists, a diabolically clever battle of wits that’s both frightening and funny.
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The artist: naked, terribly exposed con-artist fueled by shame and hellbent on revenge. Exactement. Often considered a companion piece to the decade-later Riten, which is admittedly far more streamlined, exact, and devastating. Riten is also a good measure less whacky.
Not quite among Bergman's masterpieces, but an incredibly interesting film that achieves some striking moments of almost gothic intensity (it would be interesting to see an argument on Bergman as a horror film director). It's not without its flaws, including some awkward tonal shifts into surprisingly broad humor - but with its searing performances and palpable black and white atmosphere, a fascinating classic.
Criminally underrated Bergman film, and one of his best from his early period. First off, it's a visually luminous film, and the first of Bergman's films to be visually perfect. Second, the script is amazing, jumping from farce to drama and a little dash of fantasy, and third all actors are excellent. Of course all the usual Bergman themes are here, but done without any pretension. A masterpiece.
It's really quite a shame that this movie didn't work. It's so Shakespearean! The first 4/5ths is quite good. The ending seems tacked on later as almost an afterthought. Seems like someone from Hollywood came in and threw together a happy ending. Of course he made another run at similar material with 'The Rite', which is surprisingly daring and good for a TV movie.
***1/2, at least; there's a slight tone-shift problem, and a higher creakiness-to-exhilaration ratio than in his very best, but it's Bergman's STARDUST MEMORIES, for better or worse (and for the record -- I love STARDUST MEMORIES).
Bergman lends to film a somewhat abstract visual reproduction of classical theatre. His consistent retelling of quiet female suffering, and a deep-seated fear of the fool [whether due to his classical style or autobiography] might fall short if it weren't for his excellent directing skills. Overall, in the context of the rest of his work, I'd say this is the best.