When I write about movies, I try to explain them in the simplest manner. Neither do I understand much about cinematography nor anything about direction; I only focus on the story. There are so many movies that are considered art and yet barely comprehensible. And then there are films that are art and yet you can understand as well and feel connected to them. There are just some movies that manage to sink deep within you. Ansiktet (1958) The Magician is a visual story that I believe you'll be able to connect with.
Ansiktet (1958) - Ingmar Bergman
Ansiktet (1958) - Ingmar Bergman
The poster isn't Swedish, hence the name appears to be different. The moment I saw this one, I knew I had to use it.
This is perhaps the third film by Ingmar Bergman that I'm writing and yet another psychological drama written and directed by Bergman himself. The cast I would describe while I give the characters an overview.
The lead character is Albert Emanuel Vogler played by Max von Sydow is the charismatic leader of the troupe of performers. What's interesting about Albert is that he appears to be a clairvoyant and an apt hypnotist but throughout the movie, he had only a few dialogues. And even then he didn't say a word till almost half of the film; Sydow's presence, expressions, and the transition from magnanimity to fraudulence to glory, a character that was more human-like than any other. Ingrid Thulin is cast as Mr. Aman aka Manda Vogler who initially played the role of Albert's prodigy as Mr. Aman which was a masked character of Manda who in reality was Albert's wife. The couple had a rather rocky relationship but Manda's devotion and commitment towards her husband was quite infallible.
Tubal is a charmer and marvelous theatre performer, played by Åke Fridell, but as charming a personality as he was, he somehow came off as a sycophant. Granny Vogler (Naima Wifstrand) appeared to be just as a granny should be; a woman wise beyond her years, a home remedy for diseases, and full of scary stories but this granny has a few parlor tricks up her sleeves too. Bengt Ekerot was portrayed as Johan Spegel, an almost dying man to whom Albert took pity on and tagged him along with them; later on, he was proven to be a useful tool. This little group of performers was the guest of Consul Egerman (Erland Josephson) his wife Ottilia (Gertrud Fridh) and they have troubles of their own and they drifted furthermore after the death of their child. Ottilia was fascinated by the stories of Albert's performances and even took a fancy toward him when she met him personally which only created more troubles for the Egermans'. And then there is Dr. Vergerus (Gunnar Björnstrand) who is hypocritical, to say the least. It's a character that isn't going to entice you, might do the opposite, but it's a necessary character; Vergerus had proven himself to be a challenge to Vogler and throughout the movie he first tried to prove Albert as a phony and later on was successful at that.
I think the character descriptions were enough to skip the plot altogether. You may find the climax of the movie a tad ambiguous and safe to say it's hard to digest and yet I find it way different than any other Bergman's films; he surely was very fond of theatre.
It was quite difficult to write about The Magician and to form my own opinion is proving to be tougher than other times.
I have finally realized that I have developed a sort of favoritism regarding directors. And you have guessed it right, Ingmar Bergman is one among a few others. If you look at the stories, they're simple (except Persona) and yet there's a certain ambiance. Maybe I'm seeing it differently and maybe the tale of a magician was opposite to what the films were about in the late 50s. But there are two things about Bergman's films; one, they don't disappoint, and two they don't make you feel stupid. Yes, I said that because at times I have felt with other directors that they're somewhat mocking my own understanding or being political which I never felt that with Bergman's movies.
The Magician isn't one of the top production and you can say it was somewhat ignored. The story is wrapped around a fake conjurer hiding behind a masked personality he created himself and the troubles he and his merry (not really) band of vaudevillians were facing. The entertainers were once lauded for their outstanding and engaging stage acts but as luck went downhill so had their fame and money.
In every step, the counselors brought up how much of a charlatan these artists were even humiliating a great deal along with sexual advances and they found themselves knee-deep in troubles, completely overlooking the fact that they are indeed great performers and it was their job to entertained but not be ridiculed. Each of the characters has its own bothersome story and its own limitations (not the portrayal). From the gloomy atmosphere at the beginning to the thunderous night and the masquerade and the trepidation, it was rather fanatical and mystifying.
I'm peaking. 🙃
Back after a break with a bam. Just kidding.