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Saturday, September 27, 2008

TO JOY (1949)

This early effort from Ingmar Bergman already shows his sure technical grasp, but what a conventional story it tells . . . or does it? An orchestra rehearsal is interrupted by an emergency phone call for one of the players. The news is grim and we flash back seven years, charting the marital ups & down of this husband & his wife, both violinists in the orchestra. He owns a difficult artistic personality, but not, alas, the talent to break past his modest success. The wife accepts it, but he can’t. But what makes this all proto-Bergmanesque is the sexual gamesmanship and casual acceptance of infidelity. You can almost feel the full Bergman persona (no pun intended) about to burst out. It’s also worth watching just to see Victor Sjöström make like Lionel Barrymore as the crusty, but benign conductor and for the stunningly fluid final shot which raises the beautifully realized musical sequences into a full-fledged emotional catharsis. Oh, and the leading actor, Stig Olin; he's Lena Olin’s dad.

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