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After The Rehearsal Drama 5 (2m, 3f) View Details Compare
Short
Synopsis

The simple setting is an old stage theatre following an afternoon rehearsal. The actors have left and the aging director, Henrik Vogler, sits alone surrounded by old props from productions of Ibsen and Strindberg.  Anna Egerman, cast as Agnes in Vogler’s current production of Strindberg’s “Dream Play” enters, surprising him.  Anna’s mother Rakel was an attractive actress who left the theatre to raise a family. Rakel and Vogler were occasional lovers.  Anna’s mother is dead and her father gone.  Vogler expresses his views on actors, artistic morality and scenography, echoes of Bergman’s statements over the years.  He also talks about the thin line between fantasy and reality, past and present.

In a flashback Rakel enters searching for her shoes. She is 46, drunk and voluptuous. At the time Anna was 12. Vogler has asked Rakel to play a small part in a new production.  The alcoholic Rakel is in and out of institutions. Their conversation is bitter, ironic and tense. Rakel leaves and Vogler promises to visit her.  We return to the present. Anna tells Vogler she is pregnant, later that she has had an abortion and will divorce her husband.  Vogler contrives a fantasy love affair with Anna and she falls into her role. The make-believe affair ends with them parting as friends.  Vogler stays behind, left alone.  The church bells, which have been chiming, fall silent or perhaps it is just that the Director can no longer hear them.

All These Women Drama 11 (5m, 6f) View Details Compare
Short
Synopsis

The plot catalyst is the death of a famous musician, Felix. Filing past his bier are all the women of importance in his life and his manager Jillker. His biographer, Cornelius, places a manuscript on the body.  In flashback, Cornelius arrives at Felix’s house to collect material for the biography.  He meets Cecilia, the musician’s young cousin, Felix’s wife, Adelaide and Bumblebee, who shows him the master bedroom. This leads to an amorous encounter, depicted as a dance to tango music.

The following morning Cornelius wakes in Bumblebee’s bed and finds a woman who is about to murder him, mistaking him for Felix.  He escapes to warn Felix of her murderous attempt but is barred from the music room by the chamber maid. In desperation he leaps from a window to find Adelaide firing shots at busts that resemble Felix. Later that night, he gets lost searching for Bumblebee and ends up kissing Felix’s accompanist, Beatrice. Jillker photographs the scene. Cornelius, apprehensive, flees again and drops his cigar, which sets off a firework display.

The next day Jillker persuades Cornelius to dress as a woman to get closer to Felix. He succeeds but at no point do we actually see Felix.  Cornelius then learns Felix is to play his composition, “Song of the Fish” or “Abstraction No. 14”. Jillker threatens to resign but before he does Felix dies.  After the death Cornelius peruses his manuscript and admits he has not captured Felix’s personality. He is accosted by Felix’s “widows” and part of the manuscript disappears. A young man enters.  The women flock round him. Felix is already forgotten together with the biographer.

Autumn Sonata Drama 11 (5m, 6f) View Details Compare
Short
Synopsis

The first Bergman film to star Ingrid Bergman, playing Charlotte, a successful concert pianist. The film concerns Charlotte’s relationship with her dowdy daughter Eva, married to a parson and living in rural Norway. The film opens with a narration from Eva’s husband, about his wife who had a career as a journalist, which she abandoned when she married. After a number of years they had a son, Erik, who drowned when he was 4 years old.

Charlotte’s longtime friend, Leonardo, has died and Eva invites her mother to the parsonage for a visit. It is seven years since mother and daughter have seen each other. Charlotte learns that her mentally handicapped child, Helena, is now living with and being taken care of by Eva. A distraught Charlotte talks about Leonardo’s death and then visits Helena. During dinner, where she appears in an elegant red dress, Charlotte gets a call from her agent offering her a lucrative concert engagement. Always unable to resist the lure of a large fee she accepts. She persuades Eva to play Chopin and then proceeds to humiliate her by playing the same piece and explaining how it should be interpreted. Eva is a picture of misery. Later when she leaves the room she overhears her husband revealing intimate details about her to Charlotte. Having finished her accounts in bed, Charlotte falls asleep but wakes screaming from a nightmare in which Helena touched her. She spends the rest of the night in the living room with Eva who accuses her mother of neglecting her family in pursuit of her concert career.

In flashbacks we see Eva waiting, longing for her mother’s return. One of her memories is of one Easter where Leonardo and Charlotte joined Helena on a visit to the island of Bornholm. A rapport develops between Leonardo and Helena that seems to have a beneficial affect on Helena’s condition. A transcendent moment is created when Leonardo plays the cello to the assembled company and the scene is bathed in a soft, warm light. The following day Charlotte decides to leave early. Leonardo stays behind but grows restless and soon follows the feckless Charlotte to Vienna. Helena suffers a relapse. Charlotte defends her behaviour to her daughter by citing one summer when she gave up practice to spend time with the family. Eva confesses her unhappiness about that summer when she was 14 and unable to cope with her mother’s dominant personality. She breaks down. Charlotte leaves and shots of her on a train with her agent alternate with glimpses of Eva walking to the cemetery to visit her son’s grave.

The film concludes with Eva writing to her mother begging for her forgiveness. She shows the letter to her husband and speculates that Charlotte will probably never even read it.  As he peruses it we see Eva and Charlotte’s faces in turn on the screen. Eva’s husband replaces the letter in the envelope ready to take to the post office. 

Best Intentions, The Comedy/Satire 16 (9m, 7f) View Details Compare
Short
Synopsis

The story covers the ten-year period from 1909-19 and concerns the Lutheran minister Henrik Bergman and his wife Anna Akerblom.  We see Henrik as a theology student, asked to visit his ailing grandmother with whom he has fallen out. In return his studies will be paid for.  He sees this offer as emotional blackmail and storms out.  This hot-headed behaviour sets a pattern for his character throughout the whole film.  After failing an exam, Henrik is consoled by his girl friend.  Henrik is the invited to the Akerblom family home by the son of the family and encounters Anna for the first time.  Henrik returns home at the end of the academic year. His mother has decided to seek financial support from three unmarried sisters of Henrik’s grandfather. The request is granted after Henrik tells a white lie about his studies.  Anna’s aging father dies and soon after she and Henrik become engaged. They visit rural Forsboda, which will become their first home. This trip marks their first major argument when Anna holds out for a huge wedding in the Cathedral at Uppsala while Henrik wants a small affair in the chapel at Forsboda.  Anna wins this battle of wills but their honeymoon in Italy is cancelled and they travel immediately to Forsboda. Tension increases between Henrik and his mother-in-law. Karin, when Anna gives birth to their first son in Uppsala rather than Forsboda.  A foster child comes to live with the Bergman’s and Henrik falls out with the local mill owner Nordenson after which Nordenson removes his two daughters from Henrik’s confirmation class.  Henrik is invited to become priest at the prestigious Sophia Hospital in Stockholm.  He hesitates and is given time to consider his decision.  Henrik’s sick mother comes to visit her son in Forsboda and dies. Anna is expecting their second child. People in the local community have stopped attending Henrik’s and Anna’s reading and sewing classes fearing they will be blacklisted by Nordenson on whom they rely for work at his mill. There is also gossip about the Pastor and Mrs. Nordenson.  The mill is declared bankrupt and Nordenson commits suicide.  Cold, food-rationing, illness and marital tension move Anna to return to her mother and Henrik lashes out at her twice. Anna remains in Uppsala over Christmas while Henrik dismisses the maids and lives alone. Finally he travels to Uppsala and informs Anna he has accepted the post in Stockholm. In July their second son, Ingmar, will be born.  

Cries And Whispers Drama 9 (4m, 5f) View Details Compare
Short
Synopsis

The setting is an old manor house in Central Sweden in the early 1900s. The characters are three sisters and a maid. Two of the sisters, Karin and Maria have come to visit their sick sister who is dying of cancer at the age of 37. She is cared for by her maid, Anna, with whom she has lived alone for many years.

At the opening it is dawn and inside the house the clocks tick loudly while voices are heard whispering. The rooms are all decorated in red. Maria, dressed all in white, has fallen asleep in a chair. In the next room Agnes awakes to a new day of pain. The story is made up of scenes of the gradual decline and death of Agnes and its aftermath interspersed by flashbacks of the women’s reveries or memories. Each flashback is signalled by a dissolve to red. In one, Maria discovers her husband has tried to stab himself; she makes little attempt to help him. This scene is preceded by Maria in conversation with the doctor who attends Agnes. The second flashback is of Karin at dinner with her husband. At the meal, which is conducted in silence, she fumbles with a wineglass and breaks it. In the bedroom she uses a splinter of the glass to mutilate herself by cutting her vagina. When her husband comes into the room she smears her face with her blood. Other scenes show Agnes’ frustrated love for her mother and Anna’s memories of her dead daughter. The death is slow and painful. When she is conscious and relatively comfortable the sisters help to comb her hair and read to her. When she is ravaged with pain the two sisters shun her and only Anna comforts her.

Agnes is laid to rest by two old women. The minister prays at her bedside for her to intercede with God for the living by asking for his grace and a meaning to life. Following the death Karin tries to focus on practical matters. Maria seeks her out and for a brief moment the sisters embrace. Karin tries later to rekindle this feeling but Maria excuses herself, saying her husband is waiting. In the night following Agnes’ death, Anna hears faint sounds coming from Agnes’ room. When she enters she finds the dead woman has been crying. She summons both sisters who turn away in disgust and fear. Anna climbs into the bed and takes the body in her arms creating a pieta pose. Agnes’ fears are soothed and she finally goes to her rest. After the funeral, the sisters are ready to leave. They discuss what to do about Anna and tell her she can pick a memento from Agnes’ belongings. She wants nothing but Maria presses some money into her hand. She curtsies. The end is a flashback with Anna reading from Agnes’ diary. The passage is visualised with Agnes speaking. All four women are walking together in the park. The three sisters sit in a rocker and Anna swings them gently. In a moment of epiphany Agnes declares how grateful she is life has given her so much.

Devil's Eye, The Drama 4 (3m, 1f) View Details Compare
Short
Synopsis

The story revolves around a mythic motto invented by Bergman: “A young woman’s chastity is a stye in the eye of the Devil”. Cast in four acts there is an introduction by a speaker in formal attire, who provides Brechtian commentary in the interludes.  The action is set in Hell and in a vicarage in the Swedish countryside. The plot involves Don Juan, who has spent 300 years in Hell.  The Prince of Darkness gets a stye in his eye. The cause is a young girl, Britt-Marie, who, although engaged, steadfastly remains a virgin. The Don, whose punishment in hell is to be eternally sexually aroused and never fulfilled, is ordered by Satan to return to earth, accompanied by his servant, Pablo to cure the problem.  The men emerge from the underworld into an earthly paradise. The pastoral beauty intensifies their agony as they realise the temporary nature of their visit and remember once again what they have forfeited through lecherous living. Arriving at the vicarage they meet Britt-Marie who is the daughter of the parson, a naïve and innocent man, and his frustrated wife Renata.  During a stormy night the Don seduces Britt-Marie and Pablo the mother.  Mission accomplished, he must return to hell. However this time, unlike his earlier escapades, he has fallen in love with the object of his desire, which causes consternation among the hosts of hell as it spells defeat for the infernal principles which govern the abyss.  Another set back for the Devil happens when the parson, contrary to infernal calculations, forgives his wife her infidelity.  However in a final flashback at the wedding of Britt-Marie, Satan learns that the young girl will lie to her husband on their wedding night.  With this minor victory, the stye disappears from the Devil’s eye. 

Faithless Drama 6 (3m, 3f) View Details Compare
Short
Synopsis

A writer, Bergman, at his work desk, creates in his imagination the story of Marianne; a woman who is unfaithful to her husband Markus, a conductor, and their 9-year-old child Isabelle, with a theatre director David. The affair unfolds in flashbacks, starting casually in Paris and growing in intensity to a disastrous denouement. David is violent and irrationally jealous. Markus discovers the lovers in bed and files for divorce. In the ensuing custody battle for Isabelle, Markus offers to give up his rights to the child if she will sleep with him once more, which in desperation she does. Marianne is forced to confess her action to David and he, (taking up the narrative), confesses his guilt at not supporting her. She is gone, apparently drowned.  Markus fails in an attempt to stage a suicide pact with Isabelle but kills himself.  His body is found by Mrs. Danelius who, it turns out. has been having an affair with him through his entire married life.  Marianne bids farewell to the writer who picks up a music box given to her by David.  It plays an aria from The Magic Flute.     

Fanny And Alexander Drama 27 (15m, 12f) View Details Compare
Short
Synopsis

The time is 1907. The place, Uppsala.  Fanny and Alexander are two pre-teen siblings, their parents, Oscar Ekdahl, head of the local resident theatre and Emilie, one of the principal actresses of the company.  They live in one half of a town apartment, Oscar’s mother, Helena, a widow, the other half.  A connecting door, camouflaged by wallpaper, separates the two apartments.  The script consists of a prologue and five scenes: Christmas, Death and Funeral, Breaking Up, The Events of a Summer, The Demons and an epilogue.  The prologue describes the town and its inhabitants, but the film begins with 12-year-old Alexander exploring his grandmother’s apartment, sitting under the dining room table. He surveys the room; it’s ticking clocks, ornaments and a statue that seems to beckon to him.  The Christmas scene opens with a performance in the theatre of “The The time is 1907. The place, Uppsala.  Fanny and Alexander are two pre-teen siblings, their parents, Oscar Ekdahl, head of the local resident theatre and Emilie, one of the principal actresses of the company.  They live in one half of a town apartment, Oscar’s mother, Helena, a widow, the other half.  A connecting door, camouflaged by wallpaper, separates the two apartments. The script consists of a prologue and five scenes: Christmas, Death and Funeral, Breaking Up, The Events of a Summer, The Demons and an epilogue. The prologue describes the town and its inhabitants, but the film begins with 12-year-old Alexander exploring his grandmother’s apartment, sitting under the dining room table. He surveys the room; it’s ticking clocks, ornaments and a statue that seems to beckon to him. The Christmas scene opens with a performance in the theatre of “The Play About Christ’s Joyful Birth” followed by Christmas dinner at Helena’s apartment. Servants mingle with the family, the atmosphere joyous and warm. The evening ends for the children with a pillow fight with Maj, a servant girl. In the night Alexander sneaks out of bed to play with his “laterna magica”, a Christmas present. Fanny joins him. Helena and an old friend, Isak Jabbi talk through the night while Gustav Ekdahl, Oscar’s philandering brother, seduces Maj. Another brother, Carl, argues with his wife. In the early morning, the extended Ekdahl family meet for coffee at Helena’s and then travel to church in sleds lit by torches, a re-enactment of a Swedish Christmas custom from the past. The death and funeral section begins with a rehearsal of Hamlet’s first meeting with his father’s ghost. Oscar, directing, collapses and dies. During the funeral Alexander mutters obscenities in protest at his father’s death. Bishop Vergerus conducts the funeral. A year later he marries Emilie and she moves into his house with the two children. The house they share with the Bishop’s mother, sister and bed-ridden aunt is in stark contrast to the cluttered and boisterous Ekdahl home. The children hate their stepfather, especially Alexander, who is admonished for telling lies at school. The story moves to Helena’s summerhouse. Maj visits Helena and expresses her concern for Fanny and Alexander. The children are confined to their bare nursery. Alexander tells Justina, one of Vergerus’ servants, that Vergerus is responsible for the death, by drowning, of one of his children from a former marriage. Justina tells the bishop what Alexander has said and Vergerus beats him and locks him in the attic. Oscar’s ghost appears to Helena and talks to her about the family. This vision is interrupted by the arrival of Maj and the pregnant Emilie who tells her the bishop has refused her request for a divorce. Isak rescues Fanny and Alexander by hiding them in a chest he purchases from Vergerus. At his house he introduces them to Aron who has a puppet theatre and his brother Ishmael who is locked up because he is deranged and violent at times. At night Alexander, lost wandering through the disordered apartment, is scared by Aron, acting as God, and ends up visiting Ishmael. Meanwhile Emilie has drugged the bishop’s food and flees from the house leaving him in a semi-conscious state. A scene, in which Ishmael articulates Alexander’s wish to kill the bishop, is intercut with shots of Vergerus’ obese aunt catching fire from an overturned lamp. The fire spreads to the bishop’s bedroom. In the morning, Emilie is informed by the police of the death of her husband. The following winter, Emilie and Maj give birth to daughters. At a family celebration, Gustav pays homage to the world of family and friends. The film concludes with Helena reading to Emilie from the preface to Strindberg’s “Dreamplay”.     

Scenes From A Marriage Drama 10 (3m, 7f) View Details Compare
Short
Synopsis

First Scene: “Innocence and Panic”. The action opens with an at-home interview. The happy couple Johan and Marianne are interviewed as “the ideal couple” for a ladies magazine. At a dinner party for their friends, Peter and Katrina, the evening breaks up as the guests trade insults and Johan and Marianne congratulate themselves on their own happy marriage.

Second Scene: “The Art of Sweeping under the Carpet”. In a gentle but unsuccessful revolt, Marianne, decides to cancel the weekly Sunday dinner with her parents. Later in her office she talks with Mrs. Jacobi, who has wanted to divorce her husband for fifteen years on the grounds their marriage is loveless. In the meantime Johan receives a call from his mother at work. His colleague Eva comes in and takes part in an experiment; a TV monitor records her efforts to hit a point of light on a screen in a darkened room. She fails and is irritated by her failure. Later she criticises a collection of poems he has given her to read. Johan and Marianne have lunch together. They start a discussion about frankness and eroticism in marriage, which continues in the evening after a performance of Ibsen’s A Doll’s House at the theatre. Marianne suggests that their lack of sexual desire for each other is a result of talking about it too much.

Third Scene: “Paula”. The scene takes place in the couple’s summer house where Johan reveals he is having an affair with another woman, Paula. He plans to leave for Paris with her the next day. Marianne pleads with him to stay but he wishes to break away from the hum-drum existence of his middle-class marriage. They make love but in the morning he packs and leaves. Distraught, Marianne calls a friend for comfort only to learn that their circle of friends have known about Johan’s affair for some time.

Fourth Scene: “The Valley of Tears”. A year later, Johan visits Marianne for dinner. He tells Marianne that he has received a job offer from an American University and that Paula will not be accompanying him. He tries to make love to Marianne but she repulses him. She reads him a passage from her diary but he falls asleep. Later she shows him a letter to her from Paula predicting he will return to his family. Johan leaves saying that Paula’s letter is merely an hysterical outburst.

Fifth Scene: “The Illiterates”. In Johan’s office Marianne arrives with divorce papers for his signature. They drink. He has a cold but she, in a good mood, seduces him. He talks about his professional problems but she is indifferent, revelling in her sense of freedom. They argue and blame each other for the faults in their marriage. The verbal insults turn to physical violence when Johan attacks her. They sign the divorce papers and she leaves.

Sixth Scene: “In the Middle of the Night, in a Dark House Somewhere in the World”. Several years have passed. Both Johan and Marianne have remarried but meet on the twentieth anniversary of their own marriage. They drive to a friend’s cabin and talk about their lives. Johan is upset because his existence seems meaningless; Marianne claims to be liberated if not happy. In the night she wakes from a nightmare. A foghorn sounds outside. She talks to Johan about her sense of confusion and of not being loved. He tells her he loves her in his own unimaginative way. They go back to sleep holding hands.

Through a Glass Darkly Drama 4 (3m, 1f) View Details Compare
Short
Synopsis

Karin is a young wife, an older sister and an only daughter. In her kaleidoscopic internal world, the boundaries between different realities blur and shift. Karin's family goes on their annual holiday together, and on a bleak, beautiful island, her husband, father and brother struggle over the best way to help her. But as events spiral out of control, Karin realises that she must take command of her own destiny. This unique stage adaptation was personally approved by Bergman.

     

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