Autumn Sonata (1978)
d. Ingmar Bergman
Criterion Collection #60
IMPORTANT new addition to the Criterion Collection Hulu Plus channel as of the last week in April. Autumn Sonata is a late period Bergman, but an early Criterion Collection release AND the only film where he directed Ingrid Bergman, not related, of Casablanca and Hollywood fame. Bergman has 29 titles between Criterion Collection proper, Eclipse Series 1: Early Ingmar Bergman (5 films) and documentaries/features about the making of films (3 entries.) Fanny & Alexander takes two Collection spine numbers for the television and theatrical versions. So that leaves 19 Criterion Collection titles proper. I'm at 12. I think those numbers may be off. Excluding his films from the forties, which are the subject of Eclipse Series 1, His early 1950s films: Summer Interlude (1951, #613), Summer With Monica (1953, #614) and Sawdust and Tinsel (1953, #412.) Then you've got the back-to-back Medieval career makers of The Seventh Seal(1957, #11) and The Magician (1958, #537.) The 60s peak with Persona (1966, #701) but you've also got Through a Glass Darkly (1961, #209) and The Silence (1963, #211)- both among the most dour of all his films.
The 70s and 80s films are the most cohesive as a group- as Bergman focuses in on the rips and tears of quiet domesticity, with an almost microscopic focus on inter-generational parental/child unhappiness. Cries and Whispers(1972, #101), Scenes from a Marriage(1973, #229), Fanny och Alexander(1982, #263) and this film, Autumn Sonata all work a similar kind of emotionally claustrophobic space. Certainly Cries & Whispers and Scenes from a Marriage are the two other Bergman films that most resemble Autumn Sonata- Liv Ullmann plays practically the same character in Scenes from a Marriage and Autumn Sonata.
The emotional ordeals she has to bear in Bergman's 70s films reminds me of interviews I've read with actresses about acting for Lars Von Trier- it seems almost sadistic to make her play these women. Autumn Sonata also reminded me of Gena Rowlands performances in A Woman Under the Influence and Opening Night, although neither Ullmann or Ingrid Bergman are as emotionally unhinged as Rowlands, the combination of their two performances reminded me of separate halves of Rowlands performances.
So without disclosing too much of the plot- plot never being the focus of a Bergman movie in the first place- it's safe to say that Autumn Sonata deals in family recriminations and emotions left unexpressed. Typical fun late Bergman.