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 Post subject: 60 Autumn Sonata
PostPosted: Sat Nov 06, 2004 6:44 pm 
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Autumn Sonata

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Autumn Sonata was the only collaboration between cinema’s two great Bergmans—Ingmar, the iconic director of The Seventh Seal, and Ingrid, the monumental star of Casablanca. The grand dame, playing an icy concert pianist, is matched beat for beat in ferocity by the filmmaker’s recurring lead Liv Ullmann as her eldest daughter. Over the course of a long, painful night that the two spend together after an extended separation, they finally confront the bitter discord of their relationship. This cathartic pas de deux, evocatively shot in burnished harvest colors by the great Sven Nykvist, ranks among Ingmar Bergman’s major dramatic works.

Disc Features

- New 2K digital film restoration, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray edition
- Introduction by director Ingmar Bergman from 2003
- Audio commentary featuring Bergman expert Peter Cowie
- The Making of “Autumn Sonata,” a three-and-a-half-hour program examining every aspect of the production
- New interview with actor Liv Ullmann
- A 1981 conversation between actor Ingrid Bergman and critic John Russell Taylor at the National Film Theatre in London
- Trailer
- English-dubbed track
- New English subtitle translation
- PLUS: A booklet featuring an essay by critic Farran Smith Nehme


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PostPosted: Sat Nov 06, 2004 11:07 pm 
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jorencain wrote:
I put off watching this because I read that Woody Allen thought it was fairly weak when compared to Bergman's other work. I just saw it recently, however, and really enjoyed it. The cinematography and acting were, of course, amazing, and I particularly love the scene where Ingrid Bergman urges Liv Ullman to play piano for her, and proceeds to criticize everything about it. It's a perfect encapsulation of a musician who can never stop being a teacher and perfectionist, and it shows how this interferes with a parent/child relationship.

Anyway, I hate to do it, but I have to completely disagree with Woody Allen on this one.

I'm not so sure. The piano scene is certainly one of the strongest scenes in Bergman's work, but the rest of the film is undermined by an excessively dense script. Many of Bergman's films involve characters expressing complex concepts in the dialogue, but here they are overboard.


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PostPosted: Sat Nov 06, 2004 11:33 pm 
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I will have to agree with Woody Allen on this one. It is certainly a lot weaker than most his works, but not a bad film. Ingrid Bergman herself had great trouble with Bergman on the script. I recommend listening to the commentary with Peter Cowie. But I also agree with both points stated, expecially the piano scene in which is the strongest of character depth in the film.


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PostPosted: Sun Nov 07, 2004 1:14 am 
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Autumn Sonata is probably my least favourite of the 8 Bergman films I have seen - it didn't leave me, uh, *ravished* in the way that Persona, the Virgin Spring and, especially, Cries and Whispers did when I first saw them.

But mediocre Bergman is still better than most, and Ingrid and Liv give brilliant performances.


Last edited by King of Kong on Sun Nov 07, 2004 5:07 am, edited 2 times in total.

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PostPosted: Sun Nov 07, 2004 3:14 am 
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Well, it looks like I'm the one who's going to come in here and call this film a masterpiece, as this is a film I really love. I haven't really heard anything negative against this one before (I wouldn't have guess that Woody Allen would be less-than floored by it). Someone I know felt that this was a little less 'complete' than many of Bergman's other films, but still quite great. However, I learned from this thread (and doing some research online) that the reactions to this film were quite mixed from audiences and critics. I can't imagine that, it seems to me to be a perfect film (definitely in my top ten, or so, favorite Bergman's).

For one thing, it's stunningly accomplished. Sven Nykvist's cinematography is as astonishing as he ever has been, Liv Ullman gives simply one of the most devastating, intense, and brilliant performances I've ever seen on film, Ingrid Bergman was brilliant, inspired casting as her mother (the piano scene is gorgeous), and the use of flashbacks interesting and beautiful (probably my favorite part about the film were the flashbacks, and how Bergman uses them to further express the agony of Liv Ullman's character and her mother's carelessness). Bergman does lean toward a more relaxed, traditionally structured narrative for this film than most of his others, which might be the problem people have with it.

Dylan


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PostPosted: Sun Nov 07, 2004 4:03 am 
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Quote:
Woody Allen thought it was fairly weak when compared to Bergman's other work

I don't think he or anyone else is saying that this film is bad, just because it is weaker than most of his work. But out of Bergman's great oeuvre of masterpieces, this is not his top notch piece. I'm a Bergman fan and all his pieces are important work in my opinion. I have no disagreements with the film. Great cinematography, performances, and definetely worth seeing as any other Bergman film.


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PostPosted: Sun Nov 07, 2004 6:18 pm 
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I do certainly agree that Sven Nykvist's work is gorgeous in this film, but then, I've not seen a film he shot that is anything less than stunning in that regard. It's definitely not a bad film.


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PostPosted: Mon Nov 08, 2004 5:04 am 
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Bergman has been quoted to say that he thought of this particular film as "Bergman doing Bergman", which is not a bad thing at all, IMO.

As for that Woody Allen quote, it's funny that he should say that about this one, because he has made at least two films that are very close in mood and theme to Autumn Sonata - they are Interiors and September. So, I guess it definitely had an impact on him somehow.

For my part, I view it as the best of his later years alongside Fanny and Alexander. It's compact, brutal, to the point, visceral as always and angry as hell - all the ingredients of a great matinee flick... :lol:

The thing that strikes me everytime I see one of his films is the rhythm and the structure - it's incredible how it's all tightly paced and you cannot see a single moment put to waste. That to me was one his greatest talents - to tell you an unnerving story and keep you riveted all the way.


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PostPosted: Tue Nov 16, 2004 9:44 am 

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Was this film released internationaly with English openning credits?

Höstsonaten (Autumn Sonata) I just wonder?


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PostPosted: Wed Feb 23, 2005 10:26 am 

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As an aside, when Death in Venice first came out, a close friend of mine who loved Mahler's music was upset because he thought Visconti was implying that this was the main character's own music that was described in the film as failures.

I pointed out to him that the composer's music so described was never heard and that Visconti was using Mahler to set moods as other film music does.

I also think that the music in Autumn Sonata was integrated into the plot very successfully..


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PostPosted: Wed Feb 23, 2005 4:51 pm 
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Leo Walsh wrote:
Autumn Sonata is, so far as I know, unique in one respect: it's the only Bergman film in which we hear an entire piece, uninterrupted (twice). In fact, this is the only film I can think of in which this happens, and in which the performance is not merely integral, but absolutely foundational, to the character development.

You make some interesting points about Bergman's use of music. His antecedent in presenting full, unexpurgated performances within a dramatic framework is Straub / Huillet's mesmerising Chronicle of Anna Magdalena Bach, a composer biopic in which the integrity of the music is paramount. All performances are complete, unedited takes, and Johann Sebastian (Gustav Leonhardt) was cast for his musicianship rather than his acting. The performances are the backbone of the entire 90 minute film, and thus of the biographical narrative.

I wonder when somebody's going to be brave enough to issue this and other Straub/Huillet films on DVD?


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PostPosted: Mon Jan 23, 2006 2:29 am 
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Pointless trivia question. That is Ingmar Bergman on the dust-jacket of the book Charlotte is reading in bed before her nightmare, is it not? I'm sure it is, and if so, is this the only 'Hitchcock' appearence Bergman made in his work?


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PostPosted: Mon Jan 23, 2006 4:23 am 
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devlinnn wrote:
...is this the only 'Hitchcock' appearence Bergman made in his work?

The only other cameo I can think of right off is in A Lesson in Love: on the train Gunnar Bjornstrand crowds by Bergman standing in the corridor, reading a newspaper, wearing a beard and beret -- peeved, he looks Gunnar straight in the eye. Hilarious!


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PostPosted: Mon Jan 23, 2006 4:35 am 
"Without obsession, life is nothing"
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He also plays a priest on The Rite.


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PostPosted: Mon Jan 23, 2006 6:02 am 

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zedz wrote:
His antecedent in presenting full, unexpurgated performances within a dramatic framework is Straub / Huillet's mesmerising Chronicle of Anna Magdalena Bach, a composer biopic in which the integrity of the music is paramount. All performances are complete, unedited takes, and Johann Sebastian (Gustav Leonhardt) was cast for his musicianship rather than his acting. The performances are the backbone of the entire 90 minute film, and thus of the biographical narrative.

I wonder when somebody's going to be brave enough to issue this and other Straub/Huillet films on DVD?

Chronicle of Anna Magdalena Bach was released recently by New Yorker. For reviews, see here


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PostPosted: Mon Jan 23, 2006 6:59 am 
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Annie Mall wrote:
He also plays a priest on The Rite.

This, I think, is the full list of Bergman's 'Hitchcocks':

Frenzy (1944) - Voice on radio
A Ship to India - Man wearing beret at funfair
Thirst (aka Three Strange Loves) - Passenger on a train
To Joy - Expectant father at maternity ward
Waiting Women - Man on stairs at the gynaecologist's (!)
A Lesson in Love - uncredited
Dreams - Man with poodle
The Rite - Priest
The Passion of Anna - Narrator
The Magic Flute -member of the audience
In the Presence of a Clown - Mental patient (!)


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PostPosted: Mon Jan 23, 2006 8:03 am 
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He also provides the brief narration in Persona.


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PostPosted: Mon Jan 23, 2006 8:07 am 
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After Oskar collapses on the stage in Fanny and Alexander, and when someone rushes to the street for help, I swear the coach that zooms past has Bergman at the reins. Maybe it's just me.


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PostPosted: Thu Jun 01, 2006 6:24 am 
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Hi there,

I have watched "Autumn Sonata" yesterday for the first time. I loved the film, but was somewhat irritated about the DVD itself. I know it's an early Criterion, but I felt that sharpness was way below their usual standards, and more importantly, that colours were seriously wrong. The whole print has an unnatural 'reddish' tinge, especially visible in skin colours. Although Mr. Cowie's excellent commentary informs us that red was actually Bergman's favourite colour, I doubt that the colours are correct. "Cries and whispers" also has a lot of red, but looks much more natural by comparison (actually, it looks gorgeous).
I have the feeling that Criterion's version of "Autumn Sonata" seriously compromises Nyquist's work, but would like to make sure before I cry out and demand they re-do it like the Kurosawa films...
So, has anyone seen the film in the cinema, or has the Tartan DVD for comparison?


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PostPosted: Thu Jun 01, 2006 7:49 am 
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The same question is asked here. I have looked all over the net and I don't think a comparison exists... I own the Tartan. Looking at this. you've got a good point...the whole thing (the priests face, the sky, bedroom scene) looks overcooked. I believe there is meant to be an 'autumnal' quality to the photography but the priest looks as if his face is about to explode... maybe Criterion messed up the way they did with Taste of Cherry.


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PostPosted: Thu Jun 01, 2006 10:08 am 
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Don Lope de Aguirre wrote:
I believe there is meant to be an 'autumnal' quality to the photography but the priest looks as if his face is about to explode ...

Exactly my impression... I really wonder why all the reviews I readof Criterion's "Autumn sonata" raved so much about it and did not mention the colour issue. A matter of blind faith, obviously.

I don't know the Kiarostami film, but it seems that there the Criterion version has exactly the same problem. Strangely enough, I really love the reddish tinge on Criterion's "The Red Shoes" (whereas the Beaver comparison seems to favour the Carlton release), but in this case it's far less intrusive than on "Autumn sonata", and apparently in accordance with the cinematographer's wishes.


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PostPosted: Thu Jun 01, 2006 12:55 pm 
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What does Nykvist or Bergman say? I have a vague recollection of reading some interview where they talked about an autumnal look...but that doesn't mean the red is correct. For everything else, it looks 'okay' to me, but when you zero in on the skin tones in some of those screen captures, the characters look a little hot under the collar. Maybe a color adjustment on the TV can correct this; I'd try a Tartan, but if they're all Region 2, that's not an option for me.


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PostPosted: Fri Jun 02, 2006 5:07 am 
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hearthesilence wrote:
Maybe a color adjustment on the TV can correct this;

Have tried it, without much success. Of course you can make the red less intrusive by taking some colour off, but unless you can manipulate the red individually (and I don't know any TV set that can), it will only result in having all the other colours look washed out, which is clearly undesirable. No idea what Nyquist and Bergman say about this transfer, probably they don't care much...


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PostPosted: Mon Sep 17, 2007 3:28 pm 
Dot Com Dom
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domino harvey wrote:
is the Tartan Autumn Sonata anamorphic?

answer: nope. That's okay, it was still cheaper than the Criterion.


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PostPosted: Sat Jul 05, 2008 3:54 pm 
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There's one screencapture comparison here (R2 SF Film vs. Criterion Collection). The Tartan disc and the Swedish disc from SF Film looks identical (colorwise) and are MUCH better than Criterion.


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