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aka - Ansiktet
Sweden 1958
Directed by
Ingmar Bergman
103 minutes
Rated M

Reviewed by
Bernard Hemingway
3.5 stars

Magician, The (1958)

The Magician is a finely-crafted work photographed in striking black-and-white by Bergman's regular cameraman during these years, Gunnar Fischer and featuring Bergman's usual players, Max Von Sydow, Ingrid Thulin, Gunnar Björnstrand et. al.. The film exploring analogies between magic, theatre and the cinema and the deeper epistemological  question of what is reality, a constant theme of the director's that manifested itself in many different ways during the his career .

Set in Stockholm in 1846, it tells the story of a magician Albert Vogler (Von Sydow) who brings his ‘Magnetic Health Theater'  to town and arouses the suspicions of the highly conservative town leaders including the police chief and medical examiner that he presents a threat to public security. He is request to provide them a sample of their act and the rationalist burghers try to expose he and his players as charlatans but Vogler outsmarts them. 

With its highly theatricalised staging The Magician is a trenchant and deeply personal reflection on the director's own role as an illusionist. It picked up the Special Jury Prize at the 1959 Venice Film Festival.

FYI: The film was released in the UK as The Face.




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