Search This Blog

Saturday, June 4, 2016

'The Best Intentions' BD: Cannes-Winning Film of Courtship of Ingmar's Father


Increasingly prolific purveyor of new and old foreign films in theaters, on streaming platforms, and on DVD and Blu-ray (BD) Film Movement awesomely adds to its "Classics" catalog with the June 7, 2016 BD release of the 1992 Swedish film "Ingmar Bergman's The Best Intentions." A minor note regarding this is that this film bucks the trend of ones that include the name of the auteur (for example, "Tyler Perry's ...") being so horrible that you would rather sit through "Howard the Duck" than watch it.

The user-friendly essay in the booklet that accompanies the BD set provides detailed information regarding the extent to which this film is factual. One shared bit of information is that some names are changed to protect the not-so-innocent.

The following YouTube clip of the trailer for the 2010 DVD release of "Intentions" does justice to the story, the directing, and the acting. However, it does not come close to showing the incredible quality of the film in Blu-ray.

The  1992 Palme D'Or and Best Actress awards at the 1992 Cannes Film Festival are the most prominent of the numerous accolades for this film directed by Bergman protege Billie August based on a screenplay by Bergman that tells the dramatic tale of the relationship of the parents of Bergman. A very brief synopsis is that daughter of wealth and privilege Anna Akerblom shares an almost obsessive love with lower-class priest Henrik Bergman. Their own upbringing-related attitudes and the views of very class-conscious 1900s and 1910s Sweden create much of the drama the propels the film despite the best intentions of the couple. 

The very Bergmanesque drama commences with Anna drawing Henrik more fully into the lives of her one-percenter family despite the open and aggressive disdain of her mother and the more subtle disapproval of her father, whom screen legend Max von Sydow plays with great subtlety.

The rest of the very palpable three hours depicts the lengthy separations followed by reconciliations and class-related conflicts of the couple against very Begmanesque settings that look incredible in Blu-ray. Said scenery includes trains chugging through rural Sweden and the isolated northern village where Henrik takes a modern approach to religion looking almost pure white in the winter and wonderfully colorful in the summer.

Taking a more modern note, Henrik and Anna are straight out of "Seinfeld" in that they are highly entertaining but are not very nice people. Henrik is not very honorable toward Anna early in their relationship. The other side of the coin is that the spoiled rich girl aspect of Anna is always close to the surface to the extent that she actually runs home to mother. 

A more astonishing aspect of this story is that fact that it almost could be made word-for-word and shot-for-shot in a modern setting. Society is engaged in the same class war to which "Intentions" explicitly refers, marriages between people for different financial backgrounds often face large challenges, and there are times that all of us do not like those whom we love.

The video bonus is the North America premiere of the 1984 Bergman film "Karin's Face." This 14-minute film focuses on photos of the real-life mother of Bergman.

Anyone with questions or comments regarding "Intentions" is strongly encouraged to either email me or connect on Twitter via @tvdvdguy.