“Ingmar Bergman reunites the long-sundered couple Liv Ullman and Erland Josephson of Scenes From a Marriage as active kibitzers in another lacerating family drama. Once it engages, this ultimate Ingmar is a story about (im)mortality in both expected and highly unexpected ways.”
– J. Hoberman, VILLAGE VOICE
If the rumblings are true and the hi-definition video sequel Saraband is indeed Ingmar Bergman’s final work, then he has left on a summative high. As powerful in its own way as Carl Dreyer’s Gertrud...Bergman consistently evokes the ghost of history in Saraband, opening on Marianne sitting before a table scattered chaotically with personal photographs: as his heroine contemplates the divides of her life, Bergman considers the gaping abyss separating film-past and video-present...somewhere, Henrik Ibsen nods approvingly.
A saraband is an erotic dance for two, commonly performed for royalty of the 17th and 18th centuries, and Bergman’s movie is an ongoing series of these two-person interactions, the passion and intensity increasing masterfully with each passing moment. The way in which Bergman’s characters touch is without parallel in cinema—there’s a primal physicality in each instance of bodily contact, giving an impression of civil and animalistic behaviors locked in perpetual, bloody battle. Fittingly, by movie’s end characters are stripped naked of their illusions—both in a literal and figurative sense—and they are left to take comfort in either the fleeting pleasures of life or the blissful uncertainty of death. And in a final twist Bergman brilliantly implicates his bourgeois audience in the saraband, tempering our fetishistic and voyeuristic impulses with a master’s dose of ambiguity and catharsis via a sublime close-up of Liv Ullmann—no less than cinema’s death and rebirth capture!
d in one glorious video image.
– Keith Uhlich, SLANT MAGAZINE.
“Ms. Ullmann, now 65, and Mr. Josephson, 81, have a supreme mastery of the Bergman style. Their performances are spiritual and emotional X-rays.”
– Stephen Holden, NEW YORK TIMES [+ READ THE FULL REVIEW]
"Saraband is a great masterpiece, and a true and fitting culmination to a major career."
– Jeffrey M. Anderson, SAN FRANCISCO EXAMINER [+ READ THE FULL REVIEW]
"This work shows the director still a master at his craft...Saraband caps a monumental film career for Ingmar Bergman and his two leads: Liv Ullmann and Erland Josephson."
– Andrew Johnson, NORTH AMERICAN FILM REVIEW
“Saraband is an astonishment: vital, powerful, magnificent...a sublime work of art.”
– Phillip Lopate, FILM COMMENT
"In probing the most intimate human interactions, no one does it better than Ingmar Bergman...it dissects painful family dynamics with scalding power. . .The acting is magisterial. . .Josephson catches the essence of a coldly withholding, manipulative old man. . . Bergman has always had a remarkable empathy for women and an eye for new actresses. Count the radiant Dufvenius as another of his discoveries.”
– Stephen Farber, Movieline's Hollywood Life
”Stunning...the movie has a vitality that makes one marvel at Bergman’s creative vigor.”
– Glenn Kenny, PREMIERE
“The film is an envoi from a director who still has more energy and artistry in him than most fimmakers who weren’t even born yet during his heyday.”
– Patrick Giles, INTERVIEW
“A fiercely moving coda to his 1973 masterpiece Scenes From a Marriage...Nobody explores intimacy better than the great Bergman, first going down to the bone and then really digging deep.”
– Karen Durbin, ELLE MAGAZINE
“**** A stately dance of love and hate...Slow, still, and transfixing, this flat-out masterpiece is the best movie from Bergman in decades, and one of the best movies from anyone. Hardly ever does such brilliant acting, screenwriting, and cinematography find its way into a single film.”
– David Sterritt, THE CRISTIAN SCIENCE MONITOR
“Sublime...Bergman gives the story such vigor and rigor, so much emotional bile and spilled blood, that it would shame a much younger director...this is a testament of love and anguish from the man who used to be called the greatest living filmmaker. Well, dammit, he was. And, as Saraband proves, he still is. . . A powerful and poignant final roar from the grand old man of cinema—the movies’ lion king.”
– Richard Corliss, TIME MAGAZINE
“A quietly moving cap to an extraordinary career...final bows have rarely felt this forceful or vital.”
– David Fear, TIME OUT NEW YORK
“deliberate, difficult, and profoundly moving film...It is, in short, vintage Bergman a gloriously exhausting cinematic cocktail of intimacy, pain, and truth.”
– Wade Major, LOS ANGELES CITY BEAT
“As bitter and despairing an exploration of the human spirit as any of his films, and it is just as vibrantly written and directed”
– Jack Matthews, NY DAILY NEWS
Ingmar Bergman is back. With a vengeance. . . .an intensely dramatic, at times lacerating examination of life's conundrums that is exhilarating in its fearlessness and its command. . . proof that he still has both the passion for exploring psychological intricacies and the gifts to make that passion indelible. . . unblinking examination of the stifling nature of love as well as love's unnerving proximity to hate . . . Bergman makes this kind of intensely emotional filmmaking look simple. The ease with which the director calls forth the most deep-seated and complex emotions from his actors is helped by their skill and the decades they've worked with him, but it's nevertheless exceptional. . . Seeing Saraband also reminds us how much we're missing by not having pictures like this as part of our regular moviegoing menu. . . quite marvelous film”
– Kenneth Turan, LOS ANGELES TIMES [+ READ THE FULL REVIEW]
“**** Saraband, proves that, though he is well into his 80s, Bergman's cinematic gifts - along with his prodigious comprehension of human anguish, longing and distemper - are as vital as ever...Watching old hands Ullmann and Josephson hit every nuance of feeling with consummate grace brings an odd giddiness to an otherwise sad tale."
– Bob Strauss, LA DAILY NEWS
“Bergman's most brilliant drama in decades. . . The best Bergman movie in decades...Saraband is the best movie so far this year, and perhaps the best so far this century. No thoughtful filmgoer should miss it."
– David Sterritt, CHRISTIAN SCIENCE MONITOR
“His final opus is so rich that volumes will be written about it...instantly welcoming, entirely accessible and profoundly affecting...sublime."
– Joe Morgenstern, THE WALL STREET JOURNAL
“Ingmar Bergman is the greatest filmmaker of our time...Saraband demonstrates anew how powerful a filmmaker Bergman is...there is excitement in experiencing the purity of the master’s artistry and the brilliance of his actors. If this should indeed be his last film, it would stand as a magnificent conclusion to his conquest of the art form.”
– William Wolf, WOLF ENTERTAINMENT
“One more brave work, reminds us of how filmmakers can be seers...a potent blast of Bergmaniana." – Peter Rainer, LOS ANGELES TIMES
“An eruption of scalding, scathing emotionalism. The acting is flabbergasting, unimpeachable, superhumanly intense....His(Bergman’s) control of the material, its rhythms and tones, rivals the supreme assurance of that master...powerful...a film to be reckoned with.”
– Nathan Lee, NY SUN
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