Archive for December 24th, 2020

 © 2020 by James Clark

      One could say there isn’t really “a Bergman film;” inasmuch as each constituent episode weaves into a very large and a very challenging reflection. Long before he began to produce films, the enormity of his concern had overrun his careerist attention.

However, within the corridors of that cosmos, several alarms flare up to concentrate an angle of dilemma. One of the most demanding and generous of these clusters involves three films separated by three eras, namely, To Joy (1950); After the Rehearsal (1984, our film today); and Saraband (2003). The first, To Joy, strikes the tone that professional musical absorption is a deadly disease of oversight, not to forget, however, that, as in many arts disciplines, there could be (but very seldom) an intent to counter mere “impressiveness.” Slightly more current there, was the bid to find a footing by which to stage counter attacks on the run against casual pedantry and reflexive advantage. The third film, Saraband, also about the perils of professional musicianship, reveals someone who has a remarkable clue about performance, transcending poisonous commonness.

Not only does the second of the deck, namely, After the Rehearsal, by and large lack the hopes just mentioned, but its principals act on the macabre premise of being herded into an act of incest. (All three of these films aptly being described as the “incest allegory.”) As such, we must be on alert for the magic we know will not entirely fail us. (The overt factor of rebelling here coincides with an extraordinary entry having been produced two years before our film today, namely, Fanny and Alexander [1982]. There, a well-to-do woman, Emilie, after the death of her husband, Oscar, who was the owner and director of a theatre, after much Sturm und Drang, takes up Oscar’s passion, and displays a sense of perspective, seeing more beyond a pedantic workload, beyond the snag of the workaholic. [Though workaholics come in many forms, it is only when artists stray that true disaster occurs.] Emilie chooses for her debut, the August Strindberg work, A Dream Play [1901], a forerunner to the visions of Expressionism and Surrealism. It is in the preparation of a performance of that play which constitutes this television-com-film of, After the Rehearsal.) (more…)

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