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Sawdust and Tinsel [Criterion Collection] [DVD] [1953]

Release Date:11/20/2007
1953's Gycklarnas Afton (aka Sawdust and Tinsel and The Naked Night) predated the films that earned Ingmar Bergman his international reputation by several years -- Smiles of a Summer Night, The Seventh Seal and Wild Strawberries, which appeared between 1955 and 1957 -- but it was one of his first pictures that truly displayed the master's confident touch, and gave Bergman's favorite themes of longing, despair and the cruelties of fate an intelligent and imaginative airing, earning the film a potent reputation among his admirers. The Criterion Collection have given Sawdust and Tinsel a long-overdue release on DVD, and the results live up to the high standards Criterion set for their previous releases of Bergman's work. Sawdust and Tinsel has been transferred to disc in its original full-frame aspect ratio of 1.33:1, and the sensuous play of light and shadow in Sven Nykvist's cinematography has been captured in all its glory in this release, sourced from a print that's practically spotless. The audio for the film has been mastered in Dolby Digital Mono, and the quality is admirably strong given the age of the source materials. The dialogue is in Swedish, with optional English subtitles. Compared to many of Criterion's releases, this is a bit short on bonus materials; the film is prefaced by an introduction Bergman shot for a Swedish television broadcast in 2003, and critic and film historian Peter Cowie contributes an informative alternate commentary track. (The booklet also includes essays from John Simon and Catherine Breillat.) But if this edition of Sawdust and Tinsel isn't packed to the brim with additional material, the transfer is beautiful and this pivotal film from Ingmar Bergman is finally given a quality DVD release in the United States, which makes it a must for students of the international cinema.
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    Special Features

    • New, restored high-definition digital transfer of the film, featuring five minutes of material not included in previous US releases
    • Audio commentary by Bergman scholar Peter Cowie
    • Video introduction by Bergman from 2003
    • New and improved English subtitle translation
    • A new essay by critic John Simon and an appreciation by filmmaker Catherine Breillat


    Gycklarnas Afton
    This rich, powerful Ingmar Bergman film charts the frustrations and humiliations of several circus performers. The circus's portly owner, Albert (Ake Gronberg), recalls a humiliating incident involving the company's clown, Frost (Anders Ek), who discovered his wife, Alma (Gudrun Brost), swimming nude before a band of cheering soldiers. Having concluded his recollection, Albert visits his estranged wife, Agda (Annika Tretow), who realizes that he has made little money with his circus endeavor. While Albert endures the humiliating encounter with his wife, his jealous mistress, Anne (Harriet Andersson), retaliates by yielding to a seductive local actor, Frans (Hasse Ekman), then realizes that she has been exploited and debased. Later, the drunken Frost informs Albert of Anne's sexual indiscretion, whereupon Albert determines to thrash Anne's cynical lover. In the ensuing altercation, however, Frans manages to thwart Albert's bullish attacks and deliver a series of punishing blows. Beaten and degraded, Albert ponders suicide, then decides to avenge himself on unfaithful women by killing the company's bear, beloved by the provocative Alma, whose betrayal of Frost has so haunted Albert. Following the bear's demise, the company departs to another town. Gycklarnas Afton is full of powerful performances and staggering sequences, including the legendary flashback in which Frost finds his wife cavorting nude before the soldiers. In this scene, played with almost hysterical intensity, Frost, dressed as a clown, tearfully carries his nude wife from the water, past the soldiers, and back to the circus tent. The soundtrack's jarring contrast between sheer silence and a blaring brass band, coupled with the black-and-white cinematography's emphasis on glaring sunlight, generate a mood of considerable tension and unease. This extraordinary scene ranks among Ingmar Bergman's greatest feats and readily establishes Gycklarnas Afton as an unflinching examination of the human condition. ~ Les Stone, Rovi

    Cast & Crew

    • Harriet Andersson
      Harriet Andersson - Anne
    • Åke Grönberg
      Åke Grönberg - Albert Johansson
    • Anders Ek
      Anders Ek - Teodor Frost
    • Image coming soon
      Gudrun Brost - Alma Frost
    • Image coming soon
      Hakke Ekman - Frans

    Product images, including color, may differ from actual product appearance.