Archive | May, 2012

A Film Trilogy by Ingmar Bergman

3 May

Synopsis: The Criterion Collection based on Bergman’s own spiritual crisis, brings you fully restored, his trilogy of films produced between 1961 and 1963. Bergman stories concern themselves with dysfunctional family relations, loss of spirituality and abandonment by God. The three challenging films in the trilogy or chamber pieces are as follows: Through a Glass Darkly, Winter Light and The Silence. Bergman and his new cameraman the brilliant Sven Nykvist gave the cinema going public three stories in rapid succession of release that threw out Bergman’s images of dreamy landscapes and chess games with death in exchange for a darker reality of angst and despair.

Reviews: Through a Glass Darkly centers around Karin played with a terrifying realism by Harriet Andersson. She is  a psychologically fragile woman,who seeks recovery from a nervous breakdown while on a remote-island vacation with her family. Her father portrayed by Gunnar Björnstrand, is a successful writer who regards her with clinical detachment. Karin’s husband , a doctor portrayed by Bergman regular Max Von Sydow,  feels unavailing in the effort to treat her. Karin’s brother portrayed brutally by Lars Passgard, is wrapped up in his narcissistic quest for sexual fulfillment. Karin’s descent into further loneliness and delusion exacerbates the heretofore unspoken alienation at the heart of this entire family, and drives the characters to brood over the existence of God, in Karin’s case, imagine that God is the chilling spider hidden behind an attic door. Through a Glass Darkly is heartbreaking, and a powerful work of art.

Winter Light stars Gunnar Björnstrand, this time playing a pastor suffering a crisis of faith while ministering to a shrinking congregation, he wrestles with the question does God exist?   Has God Abandoned me? He has no answers and he a man of the cloth feels empty and powerless. Max Von Sydow plays a parishioner lost to acute anxiety over the possibility of a nuclear holocaust. Neither man can help or heal the other, or even inspire renewed confidence in practiced rituals and older, more certain views of the world. Set on a chilly, Sunday afternoon, Winter Light‘s heavy stillness, lack of music, preference for intense close-ups and distancing long shots, and barren setting all lead us inescapably into the core of a profound silence, an echo chamber in which love can’t grow and religion rings hollow.

The Silence, The last chamber story in the trilogy is a nightmarish story of two sisters, Esther portrayed by Ingrid Thulin and Anna portrayed by Gunnel Lindblom, and the latter’s son played by Jörgen Lindström, all traveling by train to Sweden but forced to stay in a foreign country when Esther’s chronic bronchial problems require her to rest. A stifling atmosphere, a desolate hotel, encounters with a troupe of carnival dwarves, Anna’s anchoring illness, and an empty sexual encounter for Esther underscore the unnerving feeling that God has abandoned these characters to dubious salvation in their own connection. A highly memorable film.

These are perhaps Bergman’s most thought provoking films and are considered masterworks by this cinema giant. The mood set by the language of the images through-out each film rivet you and challenge your spirituality and religious beliefs.  The drama and intensity each film captures draws you into each story, kudos to the actors who were so true to the emotions, to Sven Nykvist’s stark and moody cinematography and to Bergman whose deeply layered story telling brings these masterworks to level of cinematic art rarely seen.

Available on Netflix, DVD, and for purchase at


Flipper (1963)

3 May

“They call him Flipper, Flipper, faster than lightning, No-one you see, is smarter than he, And we know Flipper, lives in a world full of wonder, Flying there-under, under the sea!”

Synopsis: Filmed in the Florida Keys this family friendly story centers around Sandy Ricks, played by Luke Halpin, who played Sandy in the popular TV show of the same name, is a young boy living in the Florida Keys who befriends a dolphin injured by a harpoon. His father, fisherman Porter Ricks , played by Chuck Connors, TV’s Rifleman, is upset, as dolphins compete for fish, which jeopardizes the family income and is upset Sandy neglects his chores.

Sandy names his new friend Flipper, after Flipper recovers from the wound, the dolphin puts on a show to entertain the neighborhood children. Later, however, the animal devours Porter’s entire catch of pompano fish, Porter harshly berates Sandy for allowing Flipper to jump into the holding pen of valuable fish waiting to go to market, “What’s wrong with you boy? How old are you, 12, — almost in your teens, or are you five, — a child who doesn’t have the sense to know what his next meal depends on?” Reduced to tears, Sandy retreats to his bedroom as Porter’s wife Martha, played by Kathleen MaGuire defends Sandy by reminding Porter, “He is only a boy!”

Determined to make up for the loss, Sandy sets off to find more fish, and is led by Flipper to a large school of fish near a reef. Later, Sandy is rescued from a threatening shark by Flipper, and the grateful father draws closer to his son. Porter Ricks is finally convinced there are enough fish for both the local residents of the area and the dolphins.

The story was written by Richard Browning, known for his underwater work as “The Creature From The Black Lagoon.” Browning noting the success of Lassie decided to bring a story of a boy and his Dolphin to the big screen. No studio bit. He brought the idea producer Ivan Tors whom he worked for on Sea Hunt. The movie was a huge success and spawned (pardon the unintentional pun) a successful TV show with Halpin minus Connors and ran from 1964-67. Two movie sequels and a remake followed.  Flipper was portrayed by Mitzi a female trained at The Santini Training School. She lived for 13 years and died in 1972. Her grave is at the Dolphin Research Center in Grassy Key, Fla.  and it is the first stop on the tour.

This was filmed for family audiences and reminds us of a much simpler time.  Flipper is an icon of American culture and has been remembered fondly by us humans of a certain age.

The film is available on DVD and Netflix and can be seen once in a while on TCM. Recommended for family viewing.