|Max Von Sydow as Vogler the magician|
The Magician (1958)
d. Ingmar Bergman
Criterion Collection #537
I was intrigued by The Magician because the included visual essay by Bergman scholar Peter Cowie identified the relationship between Artist and Audience, specifically the hatred of Bergman for his critics, as a primary theme motivating the film. Bergman's relationship with critics/Audience was formed during his decade long turn at the helm of the Malmo Civic Theater, where he directed plays. Apparently, he wasn't appreciated quite enough and he took the lack of appreciation to heart.
It's common to think of great Artists as having a quality that places them above such concerns, but that is a disingenuous fraud, and I'm always interested when Artists confront that relationship in their art. That being said, The Magician is a bit of what I would call a "parlor drama" filled with characters in old timey costumes standing around inside and talking. This isn't Bergman's best look, and all of his top line classics have a substantial outdoor component that is missing from The Magician.
The Magician is also an unusual Bergman film because it has a bona fide happy ending, with The Magician be summoned to perform for the King of Sweden to the shock of all.