Reviews for The Magician ( 1958 ) 720p

starsA minor achievement in Bergman's output, but worthwhile for fans of the filmmaker

By: crculver
The three films that Ingmar Bergman produced at the close of the 1950s -- DET SJUNDE INSEGLET, SMULTRONSTAELLET and JUNGFRUKAELLAN -- tower so high in his output that one might forget that these were not his only productions of the era. ANSIKTET ("The Face", released in English-speaking markets as THE MAGICIAN) from 1958 is one of his lesser-known films.

In mid-19th century Sweden the magician Albert Emanuel Vogler (Max van Sydow) goes from town to town promising people cures for their ailments and performing magic tricks, including what was the sensation of the time, hypnosis. He is joined by his tout (Aake Fridell), his "ward" Mr. Aman (Ingrid Thulin) and his "grandmother" and the troupe's maker of patent medicine (Naima Wifstrand). After fleeing the law after a performance in one town, they pass through the forest and enter another community. Here they are detained by the authorities, so that the physician Vergerus (Gunnar Bjornstrand), the consul Egerman (Erland Josephson) can decide a wager on whether Vogler's tricks are real spiritual powers or scientifically explainable illusions.

While ANSIKTET should not be overlooked for fans of Bergman, I think it's fair that the film is not ranked among Bergman's greatest achievements. Characterization is pretty slim -- we get no idea of why Vogler and his companion chose this life, and Vergerus is so shallow that Gunnar Bjornstrand seems wasted. And had the film ended three minutes earlier it would have been one of Bergman's more powerful conclusions, but instead we get a completely unexpected happy ending that just seems lame. Much of the middle part of the film depends on sex jokes that are funny at times, but I suspect anyone who knows Bergman's great output will continuously be thinking that he's capable of so much more than this.

Still, ANSIKTET does have a generally thought-provoking dramatic arc, and some moments will prove memorable. I especially admired the battle between Vergerus and Vogler and the magician's breakdown (funny how his temperment appropriately changes with his clothes in this scene).

Bergman's atypical abandon in conspiratorial ridicule of the dialectic face-off between science and occult

By: lasttimeisaw
Labeled by IMDb as a comedy, a genre one could ever relate to Bergman's school by the narrowest of margins, this is THE MAGICIAN, Bergman's atypical abandon in conspiratorial ridicule of the dialectic face-off between science and occult, but to what end?

A bandwagon transports the troupe of Vogler's Magnetic Health Theater to a unspecific town where a spectacle is booked, but the group's practice is challenged by Dr. Vergerus (Bj?rnstrand), the Minister of Health, who resolves to debunk their act as pure hocus-pocus. The gauntlet is thrown down, Albert Vogler (von Sydow), the head of the troupe, takes it up with fortitude and selective muteness. It appears that a complacent Dr. Vergerus has the drop on the frozen-out troupe, but a consequential skulduggery is in the pipeline aiming to turn the table and Bergman really jumps the shark to ensure that to happen in its money shot, which takes place inside a locked attic, where Dr. Vergerus gets spooked by an apparently resurrected Albert, although audience is tipped off well in advance. These sequences are rendered with striking chiaroscuro contrast and perturbing foley effect, in lieu of the usual reaction shots of screaming and panicking, Bj?rnstrand imbues a divine flair of restraint into the moment, wavering between being soundly startled and trying to recollect himself at any rate.

Essentially, this is an ensemble piece, schematic vignettes limning human interactions in sometimes frivolous (the love potion gimmick and its knock-on are too tongue-in-cheek to suspend our disbelief), sometimes gnomic (the usual apparition of a witch-like Naima Wifstrand as Albert's garrulous granny verges on being goosebump-inducing) manners, but there is no emphatic through-line to connect all the dots, it is merely a menagerie of grotesque characters, tainted by their heterogeneous foibles and quirks.

Mr. von Sydow brings about a sharp presence through the dichotomy of a man's camouflage and realness (especially by dint of his soul-stirring gaze and stoic looks), and Ingrid Thulin beautifully gets worked up as the intrepid wife of Albert with a gimlet eye. In addition, Bengt Ekerot (the iconic Death himself in THE SEVENTH SEAL 1957, 8.4/10) has a short but critical role as a dying actor succumbing to alcoholism, greatly ignites the screen whenever popping up with his self- destructive yakking, to a rather poignant effect.

Profoundly immersing oneself into this aesthetically captivating picture of Bergmanesque hallmark (camerawork, art production and their paraphernalia are all first-rate and enthralling to behold) amalgamated with a willfully flippant approach in its narrative, one might tend to be simultaneously attracted and grated, the larger-than-life philosophy which it has been dwelling on eventually comes off as nebulous and scattershot, but undeniably, THE MAGICIAN can also be deemed as a hard-earned fan's favourite because at least for once, Bergman lets up a bit his sharp-edged perspicacity and indoctrination, and salts this escapade-like fable with a dash of nonchalance and slyness.

"I see what I see, and I know what I know. But nobody believes me."

By: elvircorhodzic
THE MAGICIAN is a very good fantasy drama with elements of comedy. A human drama about fates, masks and magic. One traveling magician, together with his companions, comes to a big city. Upon arrival in the city, he becomes the object of ridicule and accusations. The city authorities are trying to expose his tricks. Their efforts end in a farcical climax through love, sexuality, psychology and supernatural phenomena...

Mr. Bergman has again managed to re-examine the important questions of life in an imaginary world. The phenomena that we do not understand are sometimes exciting. Mr. Bergman has tried to play with the human mind through human needs and instincts under the strong influence of illusions and transience of life. Emotions and excitement are colliding with tradition and intellect. The director has made a very pleasant deception. Mystery was complemented with games of shadows, mirrors and lightning. Brilliant sound occasionally breaks anxious silence.

The dialogues are thoughtful and very provocative. Characterization is, as usual, excellent.

Max von Sydow as Albert Emanuel Vogler is a magician, entertainer, a doctor, a charlatan and a crook at the same time. His character was captured by the irony of life and spiritual poverty. This can be read on the actor's face.

Ingrid Thulin as Manda Vogler (alias Mr. Aman) is a beautiful and faithful wife of magician. Gunnar Bj?rnstrand as Dr. Vergerus is a very provocative as a skeptical doctor. ?ke Fridell as Tubal is a crook with a smile on his face. Bibi Andersson as Sara is a falsely naive girl, who fell in love with one coachman. Naima Wifstrand as Granny Vogler is a wise old witch, who sings a lovely lullaby for good night and sells rat poison at the same time.

This is a good combination between the gruesome melodrama and lustful comedy that ends with a general farce.

A forgotten atmospheric Bergman classic

By: willwoodmill
The Magician came out at the high point of the famous and fantastic Swedish director, Ingmar Bergman's career, it came out right after Wild Strawberries and The Seventh Seal and right before The Virgin Spring and his famous "Spider-God" or "God's silence" trilogy. But the magician has not been remembered in the same light as those films, in fact it's been mostly forgotten. The Magician follows Volger's Magnetic Health Theater a traveling performance troupe that is run by Albert Emmanuel Volger. (Played by Max Von Sydow.) Many authority figures are skeptical on whether they should be allowed to perform in public. So they are asked to come perform for Dr. Vergerus (played by Gunnar Bj?rnstrand) and Police Superintendent Starbeck (played by Toivo Pawlo) at the house of the rich merchant Mr. Egerman. So that they can see if the performance is fit for public consumption.

After watching the Magician I can see what it is less popular than The Seventh Seal and Wild Strawberries, it lacks the dark atmosphere and theological complexity of The Seventh Seal, and soft subtle human emotion and melancholy of Wild Strawberries. But even though The Magician lacks the depth of some of his other films, Ingmar Bergman's skill and style are still present. The Magician is mostly restrained to the large estate of Mr. Egerman, which is composed of some of the best sets I've seen in an Ingmar Bergman film, this gives the film a wonderful isolated feel. The film's isolated feel is only magnified when coupled with the film's sense of mystery, which makes for one very entertaining film.

I really shouldn't even have to say this, considering it's an Ingmar Bergman film, but the acting is great. A lot of Bergman favorites like Max von Sydow, Gunnar Bj?rnstrand, Ingrid Thulin, and Bibi Anderson all star in the Magician, and they're all as good as ever. Max Von Sydow deserves special praise, his character doesn't even speak until an hour through the film, but everything we need to know about him is told through his pose and facial expressions. His character is one that is filled with a deep sadness, he has clearly lived a difficult life but it know it is finally his chance to prove himself to real professionals. The films cinematography is on par with most Bergman films of the time. The film was shot by Gunnar Fischer, who has done wonders on some of Bergman's past films like The Seventh Seal and Smiles of a Summer Night and does wonders here. He captures the dark halls of Mr. Egermans estate perfectly.

Even though I can see why The Magician is not considered as good as some of Ingmar Bergman's other films, it is still criminally under seen. The film is one of they most "comfy," Ingmar Bergman films out there. And sure it may not be as complex or beautiful as some of his other films it is still classic Bergman. And if you're an Ingmar Bergman fan you definitely don't want to pass this film up, but if you're not familiar with Bergman I would suggest checking out some of his more famous films before watching this one.


Bergman Delights

By: gavin6942
When 'Vogler's Magnetic Health Theater' comes to town, there's bound to be a spectacle. Reading reports of a variety of supernatural disturbances at Vogler's prior performances abroad, the leading townspeople (including the police chief and medical examiner) request that their troupe provide them a sample of their act, before allowing them public audiences.

The film was distantly inspired by G. K. Chesterton's play "Magic", which Bergman numbered among his favorites. Bergman staged a theater production of "Magic" in Swedish at one point. Chesterton is an author who needs more love, and if it comes from Bergman, all the better.

Although this film is great for its portrayal of science versus the supernatural, what really makes it worthwhile is Bergman's use of color. No one, and I mean no one, mastered black and white like he did, making every film a joy to watch even if the story was not good. (Luckily, his stories are always good.)

A Bergman Masterpiece!

By: framptonhollis
"The Magician" is one of my personal favorite Bergman films! While it isn't as classic as films like "The Seventh Seal" and "Wild Strawberries", but I think that this film deserves just as much credit as other, more acclaimed Bergman films.

This is, without a doubt, one of Bergman's lighter films. While the film does get really dark and even sad at times, a majority of it is surprisingly light, and there's tons of comic bits! Trust me, it's much lighter than a film like "Winter Light", a Bergman film that's basically about a priest that starts losing his faith and just becomes depressed. While that isn't really the whole film, that's the basic plot synopsis!

"The Magician" is also very beautiful to look at (like all other Bergman films). The lighting and cinematography are beautifully Gothic and fit the story well.

Overall, this is an amazing, funny, and beautiful film from a masterful filmmaker.

has at least one sequence that stands among Bergman's major triumphs

By: MisterWhiplash
The Magician's original Swedish title is Ansiktet, which in Ingmar Bergman's language means 'The Face'. It's also worth noting (thanks to the Peter Cowie essay with the DVD) that the subtitle in the script is 'A Comedy'. Is much funny in this film? There is some absurdity - very dark, brooding, harrowing, sometimes horror-movie absurdity - but maybe it's there. There's even some humor to be had among the supporting characters, like the (for 1958 frank) sexual talk with Bibi Andersson's character and the younger man with the magician troupe. But it's all the same fascinating to see those two points - the fact that, as in many of Bergman's other films, the face is key as almost a plot device, and that he sees it as a comedy. But hey, so did Hitchcock with Psycho, right?

The Magician is set in the mid 19th century and is Bergman right after the one-two punch of The Seventh Seal and Wild Strawberries continuing his cinematic inquest into truth and enlightenment. The conflict is not exactly plot driven, though there is a solid premise and a good story: a "Magical Health Troupe" (that may not be the exact wording, but 'health' is in there) arrives to do a performance - this includes the Magician Vogler (Max von Sydow) and his assistant "Mr" Vogler (Ingrid Thulin, dressed like a man for a little while) - for a heavily skeptical doctor and his group (other Bergman regulars include Erland Josephsson and Gunnar Bjornstrand, the latter being the doctor). This troupe carries some baggage with them - they've been in prison before, it's spoken of - and it's obvious just by Sydow's face, with a fake beard and dyed hair, that there's something 'funny' going on.

Rationality and irrationality, that's what's at play here, and also the whole idea of what constitutes believing in something that's outside of the 'scientific' explanation. It's interesting to see that Dr. Vergerus (and this name would later pop up as antagonists in Bergman films, most notoriously in Fanny & Alexander) is probably more interested in doing the eventual autopsy of Vogler than really seeing any magic 'tricks' he has to offer - if they're tricks at all. And it's even noted that they are charlatans by one of the members in a key scene. But Bergman's aim here, and what drives things to be so moving and compelling and even touching, is how other characters react to these magicians, with their 'potions' and fortune telling. One of the doctor's wives actually takes a liking to Vogler - it should also be noted this is over the course of a night - and it's one of those scenes that is so striking for the tension in Sydow's face, how everything is building up inside of him.

It may be almost a spoiler to say that Vogler can, in fact, speak and just chooses to use it as part of his disguise. But the conflict is constantly driven by the choices and world-views of these characters, and this goes too for a 'dying' actor who is seen early on in the film and... we assume he dies en route to the main part of the story, but he re-appears mid-way through to give Vogler some late-night advice before he departs again. Is this Bergman putting himself in the film, saying that whether you bring illumination and wonder and the unknown in the world that you're still mortal? Probably, and it certainly wouldn't surprise me.

There are two main magic acts in the film, and they're both brilliant, awe-inspiring works if only on technical grounds: how characters move in the frame, the surprises that come to these people. One of these is a little quicker (the one you'll see involving 'invisible chains)). In the second, without saying too much, Vergerus does do an autopsy on a character late in the story, and this is something closest to a horror movie (ten years before Hour of the Wolf no less) and how Bjornstrand moves in this attic, how the elements may be playing 'tricks' on him, but most importantly how Bergman is making his own magic trick going on is shocking and a lot of fun.

It's actually terrifying, and in the way that you may wonder how it's being done... or, maybe that's not true, you know so much of the conflict has led to this point in the story - between what is quantifiable to a villainous man of science (yes, in this story, villainous) and what may be unknown in the world of conjuring and pulling the imaginary out of thin air - and it's because of that that you can't turn away from what will come next, while Bergman uses all the tools of cinema (cinematography playing with light and shadow, ominous music, how the actors move and react in such a tight place).

Some of the choices aren't great; I wondered why there was such BIG music near the end, it felt out of place. And I almost wished there were more 'little' moments in the film, like when the Granny character sings to one of the lady workers at the house and she slowly falls asleep. That's a really nice moment that adds to that hypnotic ambiance in The Magician. Yet I can't recommend it enough, especially to those just getting into the director's work. Not everyone here may be likable, matter of fact even the characters you're supposed to have most sympathy for are manipulative and jerky and full of angst. But do they make for some great drama? You betcha.

Very interesting but overlooked

By: TheLittleSongbird
Ever since seeing The Seventh Seal, I have become a fan of Ingmar Bergman. Maybe The Magician is not up there with his finest, but of the Bergman movies I've seen so far(which is perhaps a little under 2/3 of his filmography) every single one of them are worth watching in some way or other and The Magician is no exception. Maybe the ending, while intriguing is rather rushed, but as always with Bergman there is so much good. As to be expected, I love the look of the film, the settings are appropriately Gothic and everything is beautifully shot. Bergman's direction is also superb, no qualms there, while the symbols and images are meaningful and stay in your mind for a long time. The music is appropriately haunting, while the story has its compelling magic along with its fair share of fun and thrills and the dialogue is very thought-provoking. The characters are also interesting, and this is elevated hugely by the acting. Max Von Sydow gives a bravura performance, not a surprise as he is a wonderful actor whose face alone tells so much. Ingrid Thulin, Gunnar Bjornstrand, Bibbi Andersen and Naima Wifstrand give splendid support as well. All in all, The Magician is a very interesting Bergman film but sadly it is also an overlooked one. 9/10 Bethany Cox

"Light" Bergman?

By: tim-764-291856
Some reviewers have set themselves out to compare The Magician squarely against Ingmar's previous two masterpieces, The Seventh Seal and Wild Strawberries and mark The Magician down, unfairly. It almost cannot be possible to attain the dizzy heights of adulation of those two and as such, we are treated something lighter and possibly, more enjoyable.

Mr Bergman, in his long illustrious career covered many types of subjects. Starting with straightforward and rather dull dramas, through kitchen-sink (Ikea style?!!) and onto the darker shades of human psychology. And beyond, sometimes.

The Seventh Seal succeeded due to its extraordinary storytelling and imagery - along with just about everything else. Wild Strawberries due to its poignancy and leading performances that resonated with a sense of recognition and support in its audience. Other titles offer dark, deep blackly brooding death obsessed monologues that brush against exquisite period dramas of superb detail and cinematography.

The Magician, though has always been one of my favourites. Neither comedy nor horror film but light, often humorous drama that touches upon the Wonder in us all. We all want to see behind a master of illusion and the mixture of nostalgia, set in the comparatively fairytale setting of Scandinavia. I almost find it more akin to Conan Doyle than the witch- hunting or almost unfathomable symbolisms found in many other Bergman's.

As Bergman is one of my favourite directors of all time, warts and all and have 47 of his films I'd say this has much to offer, both to fans such as myself as well being good family entertainment that strengthens his cinematic arsenal, not weakens it.

We're on Stage with the Magician!

By: Hitchcoc
I'm slowly making my way through the Bergman canon (thank you Netflix) and am having a ball. I saw this film about forty years ago and forgot how captivating it is. Things are not as they seem anywhere in this movie. People die and come back to life, some can speak and then they can't. It has great villains and an incredible cast. Of course, it's the story of a group of traveling showmen who arrive at the home of some wealthy people. They are seen as an inferior class and are forced to grovel before they can earn their livings. They participate in byplay with those who have come to see them (some from the local village), including he servants. There is sexual activity and a lot of manipulation. When the actual magic show begins, we are in on some of the tricks, but others are unexplainable. These people seem able to act on the minds of the characters and get them to expose their dirty secrets. But, as we see, there are other forms of magic, not just the dark kind. Watch this a couple of times. You won't be disappointed.

I didn't die, but I haunt the living.

By: Spikeopath
Vogler's Magnetic Health Theater rolls into town and is promptly summoned for a meet with the town big wigs. Hoping to expose all involved in the theatre as charlatans, the disbelievers request a personal show before allowing the show to go public. With very interesting results.

There is a belief amongst many Ingmar Begman fans that Ansiktet (The Magician) is far too accessible a piece to be considered one of his greatest pieces. And whilst it does find Bergman more easy to understand for the casual viewer, it's however still complex enough to thrill and niggle the mind in equal measure. Taking two factors that he very much adored, masks and magic, Bergman threads them off into various directions, and in the process testing us the audience as to just what to expect from the story. The mysterious wonder of it all is naturally aided by Bergman's use of light and shadowy trickery, symbols loom heavy without dampening the theme on offer, with nothing of course actually quite being as it seems.

As is normally the case under the master director, the cast are uniformally strong. With Gunnar Bjornstrand and Ingrid Thulin particularly standing out. But really this is all about tricks and ideas relating to magic and its blending in with reality. So much so that with the end comes an awakening that we the audience are indeed props in one of Bergman's shows, and that can never be a bad or even an accessible thing.

A fascinating picture from a very fascinating director. 8/10

Religious symbolism in Ansiktet (The Magician)

By: yabullar
Most of Ingmar Bergman's films are meant to titillate the intellect. The Magician is no exception. It is rich with symbolism. I think it ranks right up there with "Death in Venice" on the list of misunderstood movies.

I believe the most rewarding level of meaning in "The Magician" is the religious one. Bergman was often concerned with the implications of religious beliefs. And almost always from the attitude of doubt. Consider the lines in The Seventh Seal where the vicious monk, annoyed with the knight's persistence, asks, "Will you never stop asking questions?" and the knight replies resolutely, "No. Never."

Watching this movie with the idea of Vogler as Jesus provides a perspective that informs the characters and their conduct. This melancholy magician, doubted and persecuted by the powerful, surrounded by strange and suspicious persons, is simultaneously visionary and earthy flesh and blood. He only wants to perform his miracles for the masses. Or is he a charlatan? What a powerful way to pose that question.

Weaker Bergman?

By: Django6924
It's not Bergman as his most tormented or saturnine, but it's thoroughly entertaining, more theatrical (in a good sense) than say Persona or In a Glass, Darkly, and still an unqualified masterpiece on a level of artistry that no one making films today seems to be able to achieve. It makes me think in some ways of Shakespeare's plays like the Henry IV with their mix of tragedy and comedy--all done with tremendous showmanship. I'll bet Orson Welles admired this film-- if he ever saw it.

Bergman seems almost forgotten today. Films like this one, Naked Night, Hour of the Wolf, Persona, etc., hardly ever crop up on TV or film festivals. When Bergman is represented, it's usually by The Seventh Seal (not my favorite, and a film that begs for a parody), Wild Strawberries, Smiles of a Summer Night (because of the musical version, no doubt), or Fanny and Alexander, which is more recent, and most important, in color. What a pity. The man created a body of work virtually unsurpassed in the second half of the 20th century.

satisfying on many levels: a reflection on Bergamn as illusionist

By: straiton
Many people may have missed the satisfaction of reading the extra layer of meaning in this film: that the "magician" is the the filmmaker or visa versa, in this case Bergman himself. Without giving anything of the plot away, I can say that The Magician is a reflection on Bergamn's role as a creator of illusions. He uses the story of a roving theatrical troupe with an magician to illuminate the metaphor. The apparently abrupt turn of events at the end is Bergman's signal that he is the master of your perceptions in this medium, that he compares to the experience of dreaming.

It is interesting to compare this film with Fellini's 8 1/2, another filmmaker's reflection on the process and meaning of film-making. Two very different sensibilities are at work in these two films, but with surprisingly close parallels in their endings, and involuted plots.

I found this film highly satisfying on many levels, even taken at its apparent face value, as a romp. Seen a second time the illusionist begins to emerge more clearly, from the moment the film opens, with the lighting of the arc lamp of a film projector.

"The Tortured Soul of an Artist or Smiles of a Summer Night meets Hour of the Wolf."

By: G_a_l_i_n_a
With the exception for the abrupt and somehow rushed and unsatisfying ending, "Magician" is a typical (in a good sense of the word) Bergman's film that I liked a lot. I would call it "The Tortured Soul of an Artist or Smiles of a Summer Night meets Hour of the Wolf." I did not know what to expect from the film and was pleasantly surprised by an interesting story; impressive (especially in the earlier scenes in the woods) black and white cinematography; perfect blend of humor, intense drama, and mystery. Acting was perfect - not a big surprise with the cast like that: Max von Sydow, Ingrid Thulin, Gunnar Bj?rnstrand, Bibi Andersson, and Erland Josephson. I'd like to mention Naima Wifstrand as Granny Vogler - what a great actress and what a character - she stepped out from the pages of the fairy tales, the old witch, wise and powerful; she also provides many comical scenes.


a Bergman film that's not depressing or about death!

By: MartinHafer
I've seen a lot of Ingmar Bergman films and sometimes I don't want to see one of his films about death or mental illness. Well, starting in the 1960s to the 1980s, these were the main themes of his movies, but in some of his earlier films, these are not so pervasive--such as the movies The Devil's Eye (a comedy) and The Magician ("Ansiktet"). Because of this, they may be more approachable to the average viewer who would balk at the much more serious tone of such classics as Through a Glass Darkly (deep depression), Persona (mental illness), Autumn Sonata (repressed anger and abandonment), The Seventh Seal (death and the plague) or Fanny and Alexander (child abuse and emotional neglect).

The story is about a traveling group of hoaxters who put on a show combining magic and "animal magnetism" (i.e., an early name given to hypnosis). When they arrive at a Swedish town, they are forced to come to an audience with the local official and his cronies who want to prove that the act is a fraud. Bergman really doesn't try to resolve this issue, but instead shows how the town officials are really rather petty and mean people. How this traveling group deftly survives this encounter is the main focus of the movie. I especially liked the portion of the movie about the autopsy. It sounds gross, but I thought it was actually kind of funny. One of the officials is a cold and rather nasty doctor who longs for a chance to do an autopsy on the hypnotist. He gets far more than he bargains for--that's all I really want to say--otherwise it might ruin the suspense.

So, overall I liked the movie. It was not great but well acted and not the least bit depressing.

A Great Duel Between Science and Magic

By: claudio_carvalho
In 1846, the Albert Emanuel Vogler (Max Von Sydow) and his magnetic health theater is moving in a coach to Stockholm, escaping from the accusation of charlatanism. By the way, they find a very sick drunken man on the road and give a lift to him. The drunk wants to die, to release his spirit from the spoiled body. The man dies along the journey. Near the border, they are forced to present their show to a group of skeptical persons, leaded by the local chief of police, the consul and the scientist Vergérus (Gunnar Bj?rnstrand) and their families. There is a great confrontation between magic and science.

This movie has a great performance of the whole cast and a great black and white photography. The story, about reality x illusion, is very attractive. The VHS released by the Brazilian distributor Continental is a shame. It seems to be filmed from an English projection, having black stripes covering the English subtitles and trembling image. Unfortunately, this is the unique option I have in Brazil to possess such a film in my collection. My vote is eight.

Title (Brazil): 'O Rosto' ('The Face')

Surprisingly Superb

By: ian_harris
I didn't expect to like this movie, given its period, headline subject matter etc. But don't let those factors put you off, there is real depth and some top notch scenes in this surprisingly superb movie.

Max von Sydow, Gunner Bjornstrand and Ingrid Thulin are three of Bergman's most consistent quality performers and all three have major roles in this film. There are a fair number of stereotypical character parts, mostly performed by ensemble quality character actors. Bibi Andersson is capable of far more than her giggly girl part enables her to show in this film. Indeed, there is some comedic material in this film reminiscent of Smiles of a Summer Night, but don't mistake this movie for one of Bergman's less masterful light pieces, this has real depth and substance.

There are some amazing bits of cinematography, especially the early scenes. The pacing of the movie is masterful, as is the clever use of parallels in the story - the failed actor "dying" and then reviving is a prelude to the pivotal incident around Vogler's "demise".

Top notch scenes include Mrs Egerman opening up to Vogler - she seems so lost - also both scenes in which Bjornstrand's character (Vergerus) insists that he was not taken in by the "magic".

This is now in my Bergman top 5, which makes it a "must see" in my book.

definitely not bergman's best and a hypocritical message, but still great

By: reasonbran234
ingmar bergman is, to me at least, one of the greatest directors of all time, but the ending of this one crushed me. obviously he's trying to make a comment on reality/illusion, as in all his films, but why take a shot at the aesthetic irrationality and maybe uncritical nature of the artist when bergman was himself an artist of first rank? that may sound like categorical complacency on my part, but i couldn't believe that bergman finished the movie by unmasking sydow's character as a money grubbing charlatan and the scientist as 'the wise one', who saw through it (for the most part) the entire time. of course all this is only my interpretation, but i pretty much sense bergman meant something like what i'm saying, and it is both puzzling and frustrating. most great artists may be lacking in the analytical faculty as sydow's 'magician' clearly is (while he is pretending) in this one, but without that passion for the imaginative and the irrational there really can't be art at all. the dissecting scientist is, no matter how much more intellectual integrity or 'noble' skepticism he may have than the artist, the antithesis of inspiring and affirmative (and there is a sense in which even pessimistic and despairing art can be affirmative, as nietzsche said many times)which all art should aspire, in one form or another, to be. the whole thing seems like a pretentious house of cards, considering that the considerable and undeniable appeal of bergman's work lies for the most part in his flair for the unspoken, the unconscious, the *irrational*. don't get me wrong, you might even call me an orthodox 'bergmanian' in that i find most of his work beyond criticism and absolutely masterful, but i just can't get behind 'the magician', although i may be intellectualizing too much. and to the movie's credit,it maintains a strong atmosphere and becomes impossible to stop watching halfway through, like nearly every film bergman made. don't watch it, buy it, but be a *little* wary of the veeeery contradictory message the movie tries to convey.

Magical cinema

By: pontus-13
A wonderful film about Emanuel Vogler and his Magnetic health theater that are forced to put up a magical show in front of a sceptical crowd lead by the scientist Vergérus (another member of the Vergérus family, known from other Bergman films). Max von Sydow plays Emanuel Vogler, the tormented artist putting his faith in art and Gunnar Bj?rnstrand the dissecting, denying scientist Vergérus.

It's said that Emanuel Vogler is based on Bergman himself, Vergérus on the Swedish film critic Harry Schein and Manda Vogler on Inrid Thulin.

Still waiting for this and other Bergman films to be released on DVD.