Thursday, March 17, 2016
The Devil's Eye
Written and directed by Ingmar Bergman, Djavulens oga (The Devil’s Eye) is the story of Don Juan who is sent back to Earth by Satan in an attempt to seduce and take away the virginity of a vicar’s beautiful daughter. The film is a comedic story that relates to Satan wanting retribution over the beauty of this young woman by sending the greatest seducer of all-time to win her over. Starring Jarl Kulle, Bibi Andersson, Gunnar Bjornstrand, and Stig Jarrel. Djavulens oga is a witty yet mesmerizing film from Ingmar Bergman.
The film revolves around a revenge scheme made by Satan (Stig Jarrell) who asks Don Juan (Jarl Kulle) to seduce a beautiful daughter of a vicar and take away her virginity whose chastity has given him a stye in his eye. Don Juan agrees to do the task with the aid of a servant where he will be given 300 years off from his punishment but upon meeting the beautiful Britt-Marie (Bibi Andersson). The task becomes difficult as he realizes while things become more questionable where there’s a subplot of his aide in Pablo (Sture Lagerwall) who tries to seduce the vicar’s wife. It all plays into forces trying to create chaos and disrupt the ideas of faith as it is largely told in a humorous manner with commentaries by an actor (Gunnar Bjornstrand) who appears in between the acts. The film’s script by Ingmar Bergman isn’t just this growing fascination with faith but also temptation as it’s set in a modern world where ideas of faith are being questioned.
Bergman’s direction is stylish in some aspects of the film in the way not only presents Hell but also the fact that he takes a break from the story so that Bjornstrand can provide comments in a room while a frame of the film is actually playing in the background. The presentation of Hell itself is quite offbeat as Satan surrounds himself with guards from the late 18th Century while Don Juan is dressed up like a man in his time as it play into a sort of disconnect with the modern world. When Don Juan and Pablo arrive on Earth, they’re dressed in modern clothing as it is set in a Swedish countryside where Bergman does take stock in using a lot of wide and medium shots for the landscapes. The shots are also used in some of the key dramatic moments where the vicar’s wife Renate (Gertrud Fridh) is seen far in the foreground from her room and then walks to a door for a medium shot as it play into that sense of temptation.
Bergman’s usage of close-ups do say a lot to what Don Juan endures as it displays not just a sense of revelation for himself but also a world that has changed and how love is actually more complicated. Notably as Don Juan sees Britt-Marie’s own relationship to a man named Jonas (Axel Duberg) in one of its troubled moments. While Don Juan is aware of what he has to do, his attempts in tempting Britt-Marie becomes questionable from his own perspective where he copes with not just his own humanity but also faith itself. Even as Bergman would create comments about the fallacy of faith as if it play into the idea that God and Satan are toying with humanity in this scheme that Satan is creating. Overall, Bergman crafts a humorous yet provocative tale of Don Juan’s attempt to seduce a woman only to cause a further crisis of faith around himself and those he encounters.
Cinematographer Gunnar Fischer does excellent work with the film‘s black-and-white photography as it plays into the unsettling look of Hell as well as the wondrous look of the modern world in the scenes set at night with its usage of shadows and shades. Editor Oscar Rosander does nice work with the editing as it is straightforward with some stylish jump-cuts that emerge for a key character who watches over Don Juan. Production designer P.A. Lundgren does fantastic work with the look of Hell as well as the room of the actor that are in sharp contrast to the quaint home of the vicar.
Costume designer Mago does nice work with the costumes from 18th Century look of Satan‘s guards and the stylish clothes of Don Juan in Hell to the more casual, modern look of Britt-Marie. The sound work of Staffan Dalin and Stig Flodin is terrific for the way thunderstorms sound for scenes in the second act as well as some eerie moments set in Hell. The film’s music by Erik Nordgren does wonderful work with the music as it’s a mixture of low-key orchestral as well as lots of harpsichord-based music to play into the period of where Don Juan was alive at the time.
The film’s superb cast include some notable small roles from Kristina Adolph as an object of torment for Don Juan in Hell, Allan Edwall as an ear demon, Ragnar Arvedson as a demon that watches over Don Juan and Pablo, Axel Duberg as Britt-Marie’s lover Jonas, Georg Funkquist and Gunnar Sjoberb as Satan’s guards who are dressed as posh 18th Century figures, Sture Lagerwall as Don Juan’s aide Pablo who falls for the vicar’s wife, and Gunnar Bjornstrand in a fantastic performance as the actor who comments and introduces each act in the film. Gertrude Fridh is wonderful as the vicar’s wife Renata as a woman who becomes tempted by Pablo into having an affair while Nils Poppe is excellent as a vicar who would have an encounter with a demon while being tested over his faith.
Stig Jarrell is brilliant as Satan as a figure who is bothered by the stye in his eye as he hopes to exact some revenge on Britt-Marie for what he did to her while being this master of his own domain. Jarl Kulle is amazing as Don Juan as the famed lover who is a master in seducing women only to be challenged by Britt-Marie where he does something that is unexpected of him where he would make questions on himself. Finally, there’s Bibi Andersson in a radiant performance as Britt-Marie as a vicar’s daughter that is full of life and purity as someone that is preparing for life of her own while being entranced by Don Juan’s presence as well as some issues involving her own love life that play into the growing sense of cynicism and questions of faith.
Djavulens oga is a marvelous film from Ingmar Bergman. Featuring a great cast, a unique premise, and thought-provoking themes on faith and temptation. The film is a unique and humorous take on these ideas while being presented in a very unconventional fashion. In the end, Djavulens oga is a brilliant film from Ingmar Bergman.
Ingmar Bergman Films: (Crisis) - (It Rains on Our Love) - (A Ship to India) - (Music of Darkness) - (Port of Call) - (Prison) - (Thirst (1949 film)) - (To Joy) - (This Can’t Happen Here) - (Summer Interlude) - (Secrets of Women) - Summer with Monika - Sawdust and Tinsel - A Lesson in Love - Dreams - Smiles of a Summer Night - The Seventh Seal - (Mr. Sleeman is Coming) - Wild Strawberries - (The Venetian) - (Brink of Life) - (Rabies) - The Magician - The Virgin Spring - Through a Glass Darkly - Winter Light - The Silence - All These Women - Persona - (Simulantia-Daniel) - Hour of the Wolf - (Shame (1968 film)) - (The Rite) - (The Passion of Anna) - (The Touch) - Cries & Whispers - Scenes from a Marriage - (The Magic Flute) - (Face to Face) - (The Serpent’s Egg) - Autumn Sonata - From the Life of the Marionettes - Fanny & Alexander - (After the Rehearsal) - (Karin’s Face) - (The Blessed Ones) - (In the Presence of a Clown) - (The Image Makers) - Saraband
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