Wednesday, 9 September 2009

RITEN/The Rie (1969)

Ingmar Bergman's first made-for-television film is not the easiest of his films to approach. Three members of a theatrical troupe are called befor a judge on an unspecified charge of obscenity. They are questioned together and individually by a seemingly friendly but unsympathetic judge - much of the questioning centres on the actor's personal lives and relationship to each other. In the climatic scenes the actors give a private performance. I really can't pretend to tell you what this is really about (maybe just what it says?) except that the judge seems almost to be judging himself - it's all a bit obscure. But, of course, being Bergman it is quite rivetting and nothing starring Ingrid Thulin and Gunnar Bjornstrand can by less than watchable. Perhaps it is a black comedy, S&M gear, giant strap on penises, and a captioned epilogue which made me laugh out loud after witnessing the preceeding scenes. It has been suggested that Bergman was playing with his audience just as the actors ultimately play with the judge. I suspect there is more to it than that but with Ingmar you never know - which is why he is such a great director. Not classic Bergman, maybe not even essential but no admirer of the great Swede can afford to miss it. Bergman himself does an unbilled cameo as (what else?) a priest in a (where else?) Confessional. Bless me Ingmar for I have sinned. Rating ****

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