The Magician - Swedish Films - Ingmar Bergman
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The Magician
(Ansiktet)
Sweden - 1958
Directed by Ingmar Bergman


Max von Sydow enamels the screen with his glossy black hair and make-up in this tale of a man who leads "Vogler's Magnetic Health Theatre", a traveling troupe of strange characters who combine theatre, hypnotism and magic.  The fascination with all things occult that was prevalent during the Victorian era make plausible the account of the troupes arrival in a small town, where they are greeted with a certain amount of skepticism, and asked to meet with town leaders before proceeding with their scheduled engagement.  Their reputation has preceded them and there are some concerns about their credibility.

While never assigning special psychic powers to Vogel, Bergman exposes the skeptics as people who are almost begging to be duped, possibly to escape the mundaneness of their daily existence. Vogler is one who has mastered his craft and the skeptics prove unworthy of him.  Black and white cinematography is dramatic, it is impossible to imagine this film in color.

Runtime:  102 minutes

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