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Ingmar Bergman's Cinema, 2: Crisis / A Ship to India
SPECIFICATIONS
  • 1.37:1 Standard
  • Swedish PCM Mono
  • English subtitles
  • 1 Disc
FEATURES
  • None

Ingmar Bergman's Cinema, 2: Crisis / A Ship to India

Blu-ray
Reviewed by: Chris Galloway

Directed By: Ingmar Bergman
2018 | 188 Minutes | Licensor: Svensk Filmindustri

Release Information
Blu-ray | MSRP: $299.95 | Series: The Criterion Collection
Sony Pictures Home Entertainment

Release Date: November 20, 2018
Review Date: July 15, 2019

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SYNOPSIS

In honor of Ingmar Bergman’s one hundredth birthday, the Criterion Collection is proud to present the most comprehensive collection of his films ever released on home video. One of the most revelatory voices to emerge from the postwar explosion of international art-house cinema, Bergman was a master storyteller who startled the world with his stark intensity and naked pursuit of the most profound metaphysical and spiritual questions. The struggles of faith and morality, the nature of dreams, and the agonies and ecstasies of human relationships—Bergman explored these subjects in films ranging from comedies whose lightness and complexity belie their brooding hearts to groundbreaking formal experiments and excruciatingly intimate explorations of family life.

Arranged as a film festival with opening and closing nights bookending double features and centerpieces, this selection spans six decades and thirty-nine films—including such celebrated classics as The Seventh Seal, Persona, and Fanny and Alexander alongside previously unavailable works like Dreams, The Rite, and Brink of Life. Accompanied by a 248-page book with essays on each program, as well as by more than thirty hours of supplemental features, Ingmar Bergman’s Cinema traces themes and images across Bergman’s career, blazing trails through the master’s unequaled body of work for longtime fans and newcomers alike.


PICTURE

The second disc from Criterion’s 30-disc box set Ingmar Bergman’s Cinema presents two early films from the director (including his directorial debut), Crisis and A Ship to India, both presented on this dual-layer disc in the aspect ratio of 1.37:1. Both films have received new 2K restorations, with Crisis sourced from a 35mm interpositive and A Ship to India sourced from a 35mm duplicate negative.

Of the two Crisis was previously released by Criterion on DVD through their Eclipse set Early Bergman, and though it was obvious minimal work had been done and the set was using an older master it was still impressive enough. Of the two presentations here it is the weaker one but the improvements over the previous DVD presentation are easily noticeable. The image is far sharper and more film-like in comparison, rendering grain perfectly, and the more severe flickering that was there appears to be gone. Much to my surprise, considering how clean the digital presentation is, damage is present, though it’s still minimal, limited to bits of dirt and faint tram lines. There are also times where the image can get softer going out to the outer edges of the frame, though this could be inherent to the original photography. Getting past that, the image does deliver the details. Grayscale is gorgeous, with smooth transitions, and black levels are pretty strong throughout.

This set marks A Ship to India’s debut and after Crisis I was expecting a similar presentation: good, but with source limitations. Yet much to my surprise it ends up being quite a bit better. The materials look to be in better shape, the image more stable and sharper, while also presenting less damage; just a stray mark here and there. Grain is also rendered perfectly, never looking like noise, and like the previous film contrast and grayscale are both excellent, with sharp blacks to match.

Both have been encoded perfectly, and since both films run about 90-minutes each (with no supplements on the disc) they receive plenty of room on the disc. I was a bit surprised at the damage that remained on Crisis (I’m guessing Criterion just took the master they were given and didn’t do any further work) but both films do look lovely in the end, and much better than I was expecting since I figured the same love wouldn’t be given to them that has been awarded to Bergman’s more highly regarded works.

8/10

All Blu-ray screen captures come from the source disc and have been shrunk from 1920x1080 to 900x506 and slightly compressed to conserve space. While they are not exact representations they should offer a general idea of overall video quality.

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Crisis

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Crisis

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A Ship to India

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A Ship to India

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A Ship to India

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A Ship to India

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A Ship to India

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A Ship to India

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A Ship to India

AUDIO

Both tracks present mono Swedish presentations presented in lossless PCM 1.0. I was also surprised with how well these have turned out. There can be some background noise, but this is to be expected, and there are no large issues like cracks or pops. Fidelity and range are non-existent, but distortion isn’t an issue, even when the music attempts some higher ranges. They both sound good.

6/10

SUPPLEMENTS

Though Criterion has seen fit to include supplementary material in this box set (unlike what they did with their Olympics box set) it’s unfortunate that not every film receives something, and these two films end up getting shafted. Neither are highly regarded (even Bergman hated them) but they were a starting point for him and they show him developing as a filmmaker. The two films are also rooted in Bergman’s theatre work so maybe something about this transition for him, or even about his work as screenwriter/script doctor would have been worthwhile.

At the very least the 247-page book that is included with the set does feature an essay covering the two films, written by Christine Smallwood. She doesn’t offer much of a defense for both films (even going over their less than stellar receptions) but points out the more Bergman-like elements and the theatre influences.

1/10

CLOSING

Though this ends up being one of the discs in the set without supplementary material it’s great to see that it was seen fit two of Bergman’s lesser known films would still receive sharp looking transfers and restorations. Both films, despite some lingering source issues, offer excellent presentations.




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