The complicated relationships between a circus ringmaster, his estranged wife and his lover.
The complicated relationships between a circus ringmaster, his estranged wife and his lover.
Noche de circo, Η Nύχτα των Σαλτιμπάγκων, De Spullebaas, Gjøglernes aften
Pronounced in the opening credits as a broadside ballad on film, Sawdust and Tinsel explores the extent of human humiliation more so than in any other Bergman film (in fact it's the film's main theme). This also marks a turning point in Bergman's career featuring the first of many legendary collaborations between Bergman and cinematographer Sven Nykvist and also a staple for his creative freedom to come.
Sawdust and Tinsel is also one of Bergman's darkest films and the famous opening flashback sequence featuring Frost the Clown has been cited by film aficionados around the world as some of the most depressing material put on film. It is actually quite brilliant of a choice for Bergman to open the film…
Bergman's bleak circus tragedy seems to be about frustrated people unable to do what is best for them until they reach a breaking point (an apt metaphor, perhaps, for addiction, or so I have heard). Albert, the circus owner and ringleader, seeks release from a life of escape; the circus is, after all, a place of wonders and jovialities, a place where people go for entertainment. His goal is to leave this and return to the wife he left behind, to become domestic and lead a normal life. He wishes, perhaps, to finally face reality. Around him are similar figures: the bear trainer who cannot bear to bring mercy to her charge, the drunken clown with the dark relationship with…
☆"The lowest of us would spit on the best of you."☆
Another relatively early Bergman film which has achieved a rebirth of acclaim in the past decade, Gycklarnas afton ["Sawdust and Tinsel"] is also the first collaboration with celebrated cinematographer Sven Nykvist. The longest and most expensive production of his still-young career at that point, psychosexual twists and paranoid turns come forth in this wildly inventive battle of the sexes, a mash of tragedy and comedy in the blackest of ways.
In early 1900s Sweden, a traveling circus and entertainment show is the setting for this "broadside ballad." Strange events and odd characters populate the story, first…
Sawdust and Tinsel, an excellent early film by Ingmar Bergman, uses a carnival-esque aesthetic to explore issues regarding sex, loyalty, and aspiration. The movie is gorgeously shot by Sven Nykvist in what was the first of his many collaborations with Bergman. The movie centers on a turn-of-the-century circus owner (Ake Gronberg) and his young mistress (Harriet Andersson) who is a a daredevil horseback rider in the traveling show. Throughout this film, Bergman touches on the complexities of relationships by using a cast of colorful circus characters and their plight to survive. The acting in the movie is exceptional. There were several surreal, dreamlike and grotesque moments in the film that reminded me a lot of a Fellini film - maybe it…
An early work of powerful drama by Bergman that solidifies his reputation as a master of the art-form and refines his visual and thematic style, demonstrating a maturity in the understanding of the human condition that would continue to grow in later masterpieces.
The first in a long-standing collaboration with Sven Nykvist, the baroque setting is captured with striking compositions in atmospheric monochrome, the harshness of sunlight overexposed in a harrowing flashback sequence that might well be one of Bergman's most depressing moments. The central theme of humiliation is explored with fascinating insight as a circus ringleader and his lover both experience this emotion in increasingly brutal experiences that lead to a bittersweet, but rather touching climax.
He seems to…
[Originally written on my blog.]
Checking my records, I find this was the first "old" Bergman film I ever saw (preceded only by the initial theatrical run of 1984's After the Rehearsal—not the best introduction), and pending any future reassessments I still prefer it to most of his canonical masterworks. Everyone's miserable but they're not yet so floridly articulate about it, and there's a truly fascinating mix of performance styles, from Annika Tretow's pragmatic naturalism as Alma (a role model for independent women if there ever was one) to Hasse Ekman's nakedly expressionistic leering. That range befits a portrait of professional entertainers who yearn for escape from their dreary life of providing others with (meager) escape; Bergman lets the…
ThIs didn’t feel like a traditional Bergman film, and I loved it. An interesting and lively ensemble of characters with an engaging, thought provoking, and evenly paced story make Sawdust and Tinsel an enjoyable film. Besides an entertaining film however you’ll find a fascinating critique of monogamy, and high brow/low brow entertainment, as well as what seems to be Bergman’s assertion that life fulfillment is a paradoxical concept. So far most of Bergman’s film, while not bad whatsoever, tend to have a very sleepy atmosphere to them, which makes it difficult to really get into them. However I never once had that problem with Sawdust and Tinsel. Overall I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed this film.
9.0 / 10
So this is what happened to Monika after that summer ... she changed her name to Anne and ran away to join the circus! Well not quite, but there is a strong desire to pursue fantasy and be free from the rules of society that runs through both of Harriet Andersson’s characters.
In Sawdust and Tinsel she is the Spanish bareback horse rider of the Alberti Circus troupe, as well as the ringmaster’s young mistress. The older man, Albert (Åke Grönberg) is a tragicomic character, one moment committed to the freedom and fraternity of the travelling circus, the next drawn back to home by thoughts of his wife and young children and the possibility of a respectable life. He is…
Ingmar Bergman’s first collaboration with celebrated cinematographer, Sven Nykvist. The Swedish auteur’s thirteenth film, released in the same year as ‘Summer with Monika’ and two years before he reached international recognition with his comedy of manners - ‘Smiles of a Summer Night’.
Set in turn of the century Sweden, the main attraction is a young and sexually provocative Harriet Andersson. She plays Anne, mistress to Alberto, an ageing brutish owner/ringmaster of a shabby circus troupe. Feeling trapped in their tawdry relationship and worn-out with continuous failure, the embittered pair search unsuccessfully for emotional and financial security in others.
Not the best from Bergman but gives you a taste of the existential darkness that was to come in better works such…
Part of my 5 Directors x 5 Unseen Films (7) challenge.
This film could easily have been titled "Humiliation and Disrespect." The principle character is Albert Johansson (Åke Grönberg), the gypsy-like owner and ringmaster of the struggling "Cirkus Alberti." He shares his horse-drawn wagon with the troupe's pretty brunette bareback rider named Anne (Harriet Andersson), but after three continuous years on the road, both she and their impoverished nomadic life are beginning to grind on him.
As the circus caravan approaches the next town, we learn that Albert has a wife named Agda (Annika Tretow) living there with their two young sons. He left them behind when she inherited a retail tobacco shop and wanted to settle down against his…
BERGBOX WEEK 18/30 (9/27 to 10/3) : Sawdust and Tinsel
Bergman considered this "maybe the first good film" he made and while I don't agree with that it's not hard to see where he's coming from. The film follows a struggling circus troupe's arrival to a new town and the romantic complications that come with it. It does not take much critical thinking to see the surface-level contrast of a circus entertainer's comic presence in an act and the deep despair underneath. Thankfully that's not really the point here for Bergman, instead using their careers in the circus as you would any other demeaning job with low pay and no choice but to continue. The circus represents a prison for the protagonists who dream of using romance to escape their fate. Jealousy, infidelity, humiliation, and more are in play as they're guided towards an understanding of their fate and, ultimately, an acceptance of it.
Really saved by the last act
SAWDUST AND TINSEL grew on me a bit more during this rewatch. While I'm still not overly excited about the circus theme, I noticed some of Bergman's touches that you can't help but appreciate it. In particular, his use of light and shadow throughout the film, and the use of reflections (whether it be in puddles or mirrors).
This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.
"There follows, within an undivided time frame, a number of thematic variations of erotics and humiliation in ever changing combinations" - Bergman, images, 1990.
When Bergman isn't obsessing with God being cruel, he's obsessed with how cruel it is to be in love with someone who hates you.
These themes show up in just about all his work and they're so on the nose here. The stand in for Bergman, this time played by a carnival director, has a whole monologue about his love for humans, and yet all the humans near him are terrible to him: his kids don't like him, his ex wife wont take him back, he gets beat up by someone who rapes his girlfriend. I…
That Gycklarnas afton [Carnies' Twilight, 1953] is often taken as Bergman's first 'major' work, at the expense of Summer with Monika (at least off-continent), rankles a little. But if taken as his first major 'dreamwork,' the consideration becomes partially understandable. In previous Bergmans, the flashback acted as precursor to the liminal state; in Carnies' Twilight, the early flashback contains aspects of the anxiety dream, which seep into the main action that plays out in oneiric humiliations (stolen clothing; mocking laughter; sawdust kicked in the face; sexual leer at women on parade) and heightened grotesquerie.
Another symmetry exists nested in the main action: the trajectories of Anne (Harriet Andersson) and Albert ("Alberti," Åke Grönberg), who stray from each other…
Raw emotion is on full display across the face of each character and is highlighted during the Ring finale. The struggle of people, art, and desire are driven beautifully.
"You only risk your lives, we risk our pride."
Sawdust and Tinsel is a film that lacks the central structure that makes other Bergman films so great, but it does have many moments that are great. The first two acts of this film are somewhat typical fair for Bergman, as we are presented with wonderful cinematography and a series of solid performances; but the last act is where this film truly shines. The themes of despair and regret are accentuated through some darkly comedic sequences, and the performances really start to become great in this section. Anders Ek does an amazing job emulating a man who gets displays both goofy and depressing qualities. Those qualities being perfect timing when it comes to physical comedy and sad desperation when in…
Another sad film but so powerful. This one had a lot more than love to talk about and it focused on the insecurity that can break a relationship. As I've come to expect 9 films into this binge, beautifully crafted by Bergman.
Bergman’s best film pre-The Seventh Seal. And I cannot believe it’s taken me this long to watch this baroque masterwork!
Bergman manages to craft a subtle yet powerful film about a complex relationship between a ringmasters wife and his lover.
Åke Grönberg delivers a fantastic performance, with help from Bergmans intense close ups. Grönberg goes from a optimistic leader of the circus to a man who doesn’t know what he wants.
I really liked this. It’s in the 3 for £30 criterion deal in the UK, I wouldn’t pass it up!
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