Sunday, May 27, 2018

Ansikte mot ansikte 1–4 / Face to Face 1–4

Kasvotusten / Von Angesicht zu Angesicht.
    Ruotsi 1976. PC: Cinematograph AB / Sveriges Radio AB TV2. P: Lars-Owe Carlberg, Ingmar Bergman. P manager: Katinka Faragó. D+SC: Ingmar Bergman. CIN: Sven Nykvist – negative: 35 mm – Eastmancolor – theatrical version: 1,66:1 – tv version: 4:3. PD: Anne Terselius-Hagegård (scenograf). Set dec: Anna Asp (rekvisita), Peter Kropénin (attributör). Cost: Maggie Strindberg. Makeup: Cecilia Drott. Music selections: W. A. Mozart: Die Fantasie No. 4 in c-Moll, KV 475 (1785) perf. by Käbi Laretei. Johannes Brahms: Wiegenlied, Opus 49, No. 4, hummed by Liv Ullmann as she attempts suicide. Pianist: Käbi Laretei.  S: Owe Svensson. ED: Siv Lundgren.
    C: Liv Ullmann (Dr. Jenny Isaksson / associate professor, deputy chief physician),
Erland Josephson (Dr. Tomas Jacobi, gynecologist),
Aino Taube (Jenny's grandmother),
Gunnar Björnstrand (Jenny's grandfather),
Sif Ruud (Elisabeth Wankel),
Tore Segelcke (the lady in Jenny's apparition),
Kari Sylwan (Maria, Tomas's half-sister),
Ulf Johanson (Dr. Helmuth Wankel, Elisabeth's husband, psychiatrist), 
Gösta Ekman (Mikael Strömberg, actor),
Bengt Eklund (Ludvig, "Ludde", Mikael's friend at Elisabeth's party),
Rebecca Pawlo (boutique girl at Elisabeth's party),
Lena Olin (boutique girl at Elisabeth's party).
    The Second Act also:
Birger Malmsten (the elder rapist),
Göran Stangertz (the younger rapist),
Käbi Laretei (concert pianist),
Daniel Bergman (boy in concert),
    The Third Act also.
Sven Lindberg (Dr. Erik Isaksson, Jenny's husband),
Marianne Aminoff (Jenny's mother in her dream),
Jan-Erik Lindqvist (Jenny's father in her dream),
Helene Friberg (Anna, Jenny's daughter),
Mona Andersson (patient in Jenny's dream),
Donya Feyer (patient in Jenny's dream),
    The Fourth Act also:
Kristina Adolphson (nurse Veronica),
    Studio: Filmhusateljéerna (Filmhuset, Svenska Filminstitutet, Gärdet).
    1  Uppbrottet (The Separation) 45 min
    2  Gränsen (The Border) 48 min
    3  Skymningslandet (The Twilight Land) 44 min
    4  Återkomsten (The Return) 40 min
    Swedish telepremiere: 1 Act 28.4.1976, 2 Act 5.5.1976, 3 Act 12.5.1976, 4 Act 19.5.1976.
    Finnish telepremiere: 1 Act 1.9.1976, 2 Act 7.9.1976, 3 Act 14.9.1976, 4 Act 21.9.1976.
    The theatrical version was not released in Finland.
    We screened the theatrical version at Cinema Orion in 1986 – VET 11.2.1986: 93475 – K16 – theatrical version 3710 m / 134 min. The complete version in 4 episodes: 177 min
    The first cinema screening of the complete version in Finland.
    2K DCP from digital files from SVT at 4:3 with e-subtitles in English by SubTi London screened at Cinema Orion, Helsinki (Bergman 100), 27 May 2018

It was a rare privilege to revisit the complete version of Face to Face, made during one of Ingmar Bergman's greatest periods. He had just made Cries and Whispers, Scenes from a Marriage, and The Magic Flute. Face to Face had its telepremiere three months after Bergman's tax tragedy, but I don't think that affected it.

Mostly in Face to Face Bergman is at his greatest, but starting from the third act there is a slight loss of orientation in the screenplay.

There is only one protagonist in this story: Jenny Isaksson, a psychiatrist whom we meet as a deputy chief physician. She faces the most impossible patients professionally and shows will force in confronting extreme transference.

It is summer. Jenny's husband is in the USA, and her daughter is spending the summer on a camp. Jenny has a lover, Martin, whom we never see. Because the family's new home is not ready yet, Jenny moves back to her grandparents. Her parents have died in a car accident when Jenny was a child.

Dr. Tomas Jacobi starts dating Jenny, but when he realizes that Jenny is interested in a non-physical friendship only, they become best friends on this basis. One day two strangers first molest Maria, Jenny's deeply disturbed patient, and try to rape Jenny, as well, unsuccessfully. Meeting Tomas, Jenny first laughs at the event, and then breaks down.

At home her mental breakdown gets worse, although outwardly she is calm and collected. She records a suicide note for her husband on tape and attemps suicide by overdosing on Nembutal. Tomas rescues her, but there is still a risk of permanent brain damage. Jenny experiences a hellish nightmare journey back to health, after which, we learn in a postscript, she has started a new life in the USA.

Face to Face is largely a solo performance of Liv Ullmann in an incredibly powerful interpretation as doctor, patient, mother, daughter, granddaughter, wife, and friend. From full control at extreme pressure she moves to mental breakdown; the account of psychosis may have been influenced by Arthur Janov's theories of primal therapy. In screen acting of the highest order her expressions move from happiness to serenity to desolation. Excellent is also Aino Taube as Jenny's grandmother.

In Sven Nykvist's cinematography spaces become images of mental conditions. The old childhood home of the grandparents. The family home in construction, full of promises which will never be fulfilled. Tomas Jacobi's home, the garden of which has become neglected after his divorce. The Sophiahemmet hospital, beloved by Ingmar Bergman since childhood. His mother had been a nurse there, his father the hospital priest, and the grown-up Ingmar a regular patient. These walls could heal. The composition of light and the composition in depth carry a lot of meaning. The close-ups are among the most soulful ever made. There are many long takes of high intensity. The "split screen" shot (the split achieved by a wall in the middle, see the upper image in the poster above) is original and disturbing.

Face to Face is the first film in which I became aware of Bergman dealing with homosexuality. In the first act we meet Mikael (Gösta Ekman) and his friend Ludvig at Elisabeth's party. Later we learn that also Tomas is bisexual. They are tormented individuals like everyone else in this story.

The music theme is W. A. Mozart's Die Fantasie No. 4 in c-Moll played on the piano by Käbi Laretei. One of Mozart's finest compositions, it is also one of those which in my layman's ears sound already Beethovenian, or at least I can imagine how playing this piece Beethoven might have been inspired to ideas in compositions of his own. Perhaps in this fantasy one can sense a tragic optimism, a will power with a touch of fragility.

I do not know the technical process history of this televersion, but it may have been transferred from 35 mm to 16 mm and further to digital. Missing 35 mm glory, this digital presentation provided a satisfying experience of a harrowing and unforgettable work.

The 3:4 frame of the televersion is the full, original frame of Face to Face. It was cropped to 1:1,66 for the theatrical version. The close-ups have more space in the televersion and are more tightly framed in the theatrical one.

P.S. 3 June 2018. The Primal Scream (1970) by Arthur Janov (1924–2017) may have been disowned or forgotten by most of his original followers, but he inspired two unforgettable performances: "Mother" (1971) by John Lennon, and Jenny Isaksson by Liv Ullmann.


Die Psychiaterin Jenny Isaksson verlebt den Sommer ohne ihre Familie – ihr Mann, ebenfalls Psychiater, hält sich aus beruflichen Gründen in den USA auf, ihre 14-jährige Tochter Anna macht zum ersten Mal allein Ferien mit ihrem Freund. Das gemeinsam gebaute Haus ist noch nicht bezugsfertig, weshalb sich Jenny vorübergehend bei ihren Großeltern einquartiert, bei denen sie ihre Kindheit verbrachte. Schon kurz nach ihrer Ankunft wird sie von bedrückenden Erinnerungen, Halluzinationen und Alpträumen geplagt, die stark mit ihrer Vergangenheit verbunden sind. Das Bild einer auf einem Auge blinden Frau verfolgt sie wiederholt. Tomas, ein Kollege, macht ihr offen erotische Avancen; nachdem sie diese zurückweist, entwickelt sich zwischen ihnen langsam eine platonische Freundschaft. Eines Morgens stößt Jenny in ihrem neuen Haus auf eine Patientin und zwei unbekannte Männer, von denen einer versucht, sie zu vergewaltigen. Anschließend unternimmt sie einen Selbstmordversuch. Tomas hilft ihr, ihre Krise zu überwinden. Während ihrer langsamen, von Nervenzusammenbrüchen begleiteten Rekonvaleszenz erzählt sie ihm unter anderem von dem frühen Unfalltod ihrer Eltern und der erzieherischen Strenge ihrer Großmutter. Als Tomas beruflich für längere Zeit ins Ausland geht, hat sie sich so weit wieder gefasst, dass sie sogar die sich abzeichnende Entfremdung von ihrer Tochter und den bevorstehenden Tod des Großvaters verkraften kann. Sie kündigt an, ihre Arbeit in der Klinik wieder aufzunehmen.

Die Fantasie No. 4 in c-Moll, Köchelverzeichnis 475, ist ein am 20. Mai 1785 in Wien geschriebenes Klavierstück von Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. Veröffentlicht wurde es als Opus 11 im Dezember 1785 zusammen mit der Klaviersonate Nr. 14 KV 457, im Wiener Musikverlag Artaria, welcher seit jeher als Mozarts Stammverleger galt. Das Stück beginnt in der Tonart c-Moll, in einem ruhigen Adagio. Über eine kurze Passage in D-Dur wechselt die Musik in ein Allegro, welches über a-Moll, g-Moll und F-Dur in f-Moll endet. Fortgesetzt wird das Stück in einem Andantino in B-Dur, welches schnell in ein più allegro in g-Moll übergeht. Final wechselt das Stück wieder über einige Läufe in die Ursprungstonart c-Moll. Es folgen einige Wiederholungen im Hauptthema, bis das Stück in einem Forte endet.

Das Stück gilt, wie viele Klavierkompositionen von Mozart, als äußerst anspruchsvoll. Des Weiteren gilt das Stück als eine von Mozarts bekanntesten Fantasien.

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