The romantic fantasies that young model Doris and her agent Susanne chase down are blindly hinged on the belief that men are not lazy, mediocre creatures, and Ingmar Bergman delicately maps out the psychological terrain of these compulsive desires all through Dreams, leading both generations of women down parallel paths of inevitable disappointment.
A direct translation of Ikiru to English is ‘To Live’, and it is in formally binding one dying bureaucrat’s revitalisation closely to this ideal that Akira Kurosawa gracefully transforms his existential study of mortality into an introspective consideration of life’s intrinsic purpose, infusing this profound spiritual journey with melancholy visual detail.
Sawdust and Tinsel (1953)
Life is a circus that creates entertainment out of humiliation, Ingmar Bergman posits in Sawdust and Tinsel, and in his rich staging and screenwriting he needles its existential drama with a finer, wittier point than ever before, finding both sympathy and pity for its hapless fools doomed to eternal ridicule.
Forty Guns (1957)
Forty Guns draws significantly from the cultural mythology around lawman Wyatt Earp’s restoration of order to the town of Tombstone, though in Samuel Fuller’s eccentric visual expressions and complex characters, touches of bitterness and sensitivity are brought to this refreshing, female-centric revision of the Old West.
In Bellissima’s unconventional blend of Italian neorealism and comedic satire, Luchino Visconti takes sharp aim at the ludicrous glorification of the entertainment industry, identifying an authentic connection between one effusive show mum’s pursuit of stardom for her daughter, and her struggles of post-war poverty.
Summer with Monika (1953)
Ingmar Bergman guarantees the loss of youthful innocence in Summer with Monika as sure as seasonal changes, contrasting the light nostalgia of a gleeful escape against the demoralising fatigue of contrived, urban living by studying the expressive contours of his young lovers’ faces, poignantly recognising what modern society has so cruelly stolen from them.
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