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Archive for June 13th, 2011

Sam with British actress Carey Mulligan and Broadway Bob outside New York Theatre Workshop after staging of "Through A Glass Darkly" based on Ingmar Bergman's 1961 masterwork

by Sam Juliano

Those summer denizens looking for beach weather got more than they bargained for this past week as temperatures in the big apple broke 100 on one day, and reached the high 90’s on two others.  Needless to say air conditioners were running 24/7, and air levels outdoors were deemed unsafe, sending many flocking to multiplexes and other indoor cultural refuges.  Here at Wonders in the Dark the comment threads have been sizzling, especially an escalating discussion on the valididity of film criticism and art in a protracted takedown of Jean Luc Godard’s Film Socialism.  Godard supporters and detractors have helped make the thread one of the most popular in the site’s close to three year run.  Jim Clark’s latest essay (on No Country For Old Men) and Jamie Uhler’s latest installment in his incomparable “Getting Over the Beatles” series were very well-received, and Allan’s ‘Fish Obscuro’ entries and Bob Clark’s excellent work on anime continue to lead the way.  The musical countdown draws closer, but a good seven weeks of preparation remains fro Pat Perry and myself to sort out.

On a personal note I am nearing the end of my 25th year teaching in the Fairview Public school system (after two years starting out as an English teacher in a vocational high school) and am preparing for the summer program, which will run from June 27th till August 6th.  Retirement?  As Margaret Hamilton asserts: “I wouldn’t hear of it!”  With five young kids, I will need to teach until I drop, and am physically removed from the classroom.  It’s either that or sell my DVD collection!  Ha!  At 56, I could see myself teaching ten more years, providing I make it that far.

This past week yielded some highlights on the cultural scene, including an off-Broadway stage play based on and titled after Ingmar Bergman’s Through A Glass Darkly.  The 90 minute drama featured celebrated British actress Carey Mulligan (as Karin) Chris Sarandon, Jason Butler Harner and impressive newcomer Ben Rosenfield in extraordinary form.  This claustrophobic work, adapted by Jenny Worton from the first part of Bergman’s early 60’s “Faith Trilogy”adaptation of the Swedish auteur’s 1961 film Through a Glass Darkly – a dark, psychological exploration of madness and artistic creation by the sea.  The theatre has never succeeded in capturing escalating madness as well as the cinema, which has at it’s disposal the use of the close up, visceral editing, and the orchestration of sound and visual elements which can’t quite be replicated on the stage.  The play, faithful to the film’s story arc, depicts Karin’s return to her family’s Swedish island home after a stay in a mental institution. She’s joined there by her slightly older physician husband Martin, her hack novelist father David, and her brother Max, a lonely soul who’s taken up playwriting in an effort to emulate his father’s creative efforts. As the family’s old resentments resurface and Karin’s father reveals the extent of his cold creative impetuses, Karin’s madness worsens until it reaches its breaking point.  Mulligan is raw and riveting in trying to emulate the great Harriet Andersson, and within the form’s limitations is often electrifing.  Ben Rosenfield nearly matches her as Max in a portrayal of stark intimacy.  Two major contributions come from set designer Takeshi Kata and lighting supervisor David Weiner, but the spare music from David Van Tieghem gives the film some added emotion.  David Leveaux’s direction tries to isolate the intense dramatics, but there’s a cold and distancing quality to the adaptation that makes it only intermitantly effective.  Basically Through A Glass Darkly is a series of vignettes based the film that recapture much of the wrenching emotionalism, but only a hint of the film’s explosive power.  Note:  It was wonderful to again meet our great friend and site colleague Phillip Johnston, who joined Lucille, Broadway Bob and myself for this production and a late night meal at The Dish.  Phillip and Lucille enjoyed some steak, while Bob and I opted for veal parmigiana. (more…)

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