SMILES OF A SUMMER NIGHT
SOMMARNATTENS LEENDE
1955, Janus Films, 108 min, Sweden, Dir: Ingmar Bergman

After 15 films that received mostly local acclaim, this classic film at last ushered in an international audience for Ingmar Bergman. In turn-of-the-century Sweden, four men and four women attempt to navigate the laws of attraction. During a weekend in the country, the women collude to force the men’s hands in matters of the heart, exposing their pretensions and insecurities along the way. Chock-full of flirtatious propositions and sharp witticisms delivered by such Swedish screen legends as Gunnar Björnstrand and Harriet Andersson, SMILES OF A SUMMER NIGHT is one of cinema’s great erotic comedies.


WINTER LIGHT
NATTVARDSGÄSTERNA
1962, Janus Films, 80 min, Sweden, Dir: Ingmar Bergman

“God, why did you desert me?” Master craftsman Ingmar Bergman explores the search for redemption in a meaningless existence in this stark depiction of spiritual crisis. Small-town pastor Tomas Ericsson (Gunnar Björnstrand) performs his duties mechanically before a dwindling congregation; when he is asked to assist with a troubled parishioner’s (Max von Sydow) debilitating fear of nuclear annihilation, Tomas is terrified to find that he can provide nothing but his own uncertainty. Beautifully photographed by Sven Nykvist, WINTER LIGHT is an unsettling look at the human craving for personal validation in a world seemingly abandoned by God.


THE SILENCE
TYSTNADEN
1963, Janus Films, 95 min, Sweden, Dir: Ingmar Bergman

Two sisters - the sickly, intellectual Ester (Ingrid Thulin) and the sensual, pragmatic Anna (Gunnel Lindblom) - travel by train with Anna’s young son Johan (Jorgen Lindstrom) to a foreign country seemingly on the brink of war. Attempting to cope with their alien surroundings, the sisters resort to their personal vices while vying for Johan’s affection, and in so doing sabotage any hope for a future together. Regarded as one of the most sexually provocative films of its day, this drama offers a brilliant, disturbing vision of emotional isolation in a suffocating spiritual void.


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