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Sawdust and Tinsel (The Criterion Collection)

22 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Ingmar Bergman presents the battle of the sexes as a ramshackle, grotesque carnival in this, one of the late master s most vivid early works. The story of the twisted relationship between a turn-of-the-century traveling circus owner (Ake Grönberg) and his performer girlfriend (Harriet Andersson), Sawdust and Tinsel features dreamlike detours and twisted psychosexual power play that presage the director s Smiles of a Summer Night and The Seventh Seal, works that would soon change the landscape of art cinema forever.

Special Features

None.

Product Details

  • Actors: Åke Grönberg, Harriet Andersson, Hasse Ekman, Anders Ek, Gudrun Brost
  • Directors: Ingmar Bergman
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Full Screen, NTSC, Subtitled
  • Language: Swedish
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: Criterion Collection
  • DVD Release Date: November 20, 2007
  • Run Time: 93 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000VARC32
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #94,707 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Sawdust and Tinsel (The Criterion Collection)" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Daniel S. on December 2, 2007
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
**** 1953. Written and directed by Ingmar Bergman. A land circus owner comes back to the town he left his wife and his children in, three years before. Criterion presents here the uncut version of this film with scenes absent from the VHS and laserdisc editions of SAWDUST AND TINSEL. Among the bonus features, you'll find an introduction by Ingmar Bergman himself, shot in 2003, as well as a very edifying commentary by film scholar Peter Cowie. The theme of humiliation, sexual, physical or simply psychological, is the main theme of SAWDUST AND TINSEL and the underlying element of its most awesome scenes such as the flashback on the beach which is also an homage to Sergei Eisenstein and to other masters of the silent films period. A movie to watch several times.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on December 16, 2000
Format: VHS Tape
A new generation of Bergman viewers has begun to discover that many of the lesser-known films by the great Swedish director are among his very best, or, one should say, they speak to modern audiences in a more significant way than the "cannonical" Bergman films do. "Winter Light", "Hour of the Wolf", "Shame" and, yes, "Sawdust and Tinsel" are at LEAST as worth-watching as "Seventh Seal", "Cries and Whispers", etc. "Sawdust" is a harrowing film, even by Bergman's standards, and it's not for the faint hearted, but it is one of the most gripping films I have ever seen; it's filled with horror and humiliation (and more raw pain than a dozen other films) but it finally shows a sincere compassion for its characters, an attribute that ultimately makes it a true work of humanistic art.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on January 24, 2002
Format: VHS Tape
This is one of my favorite early Bergman movies, if not just for the opening clown sequence, which is beautifully photographed. I think this is the first film in which Bergman collaborated with Sven Nykvist, perhaps the greatest film duo to ever come into being. Whether or not the critics loved or hated the film, or when or why they took either opinion, is of course of little consequence. Bergman himself seemed to have liked the film, or at least as much as he indicated in his autobiography: he notes, in particular, the successful blending of dream and reality that he so admired in Tarkovsky and that, he felt, he had failed to create in some of his later more ambitious projects.
A circus owner (Gronberg) arrives in his former hometown after an absence of seven years, when he left behind his wife and his two little boys. He hasn't seen them since, and has taken up a new lover: a young, coquettish, simple-minded girl who performs in his circus (Anderson). When the the circus owner decides to pay a visit to his former family, Anderson becomes intensely jealous, thinking that he is leaving her to return to his family. "Fear becomes what is feared" when, sensing abandonment, Anderson allows herself to be seduced by a young actor. Likewise, thinking that his new lover has run off, Gronberg makes a desperate attempt to reconcile with his family. A morbid and most pathetically depressing emotional climax is reached when all the cards are laid on the table at the circus's performance.
The acting/directing in this movie is Bergman at his finest; a 'spontaneous' (thoroughly coordinated) guttoral instinctiveness is pounded on like an out-of-tune piano chord: the emotional progress of the characters in the film is at once difficult to watch, for its ugliness, and strangely attractive.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Kerry Walters VINE VOICE on August 8, 2008
Format: DVD
Even in interviews years after "Sawdust and Tinsel" appeared, it's clear that Bergman was still irked by the charge that his film was "vomit." But in a certain way, this comment by a film critic is a vindication of the movie, because in it Bergman is exploring a vision of life that is anything but comforting. Each time I watch this magnificent little film, I'm reminded of Sartre's "No Exit." We're trapped in life, and that's all there is to it. It's entirely appropriate that our reaction to the film should be negative. The challenge is to not confuse our response to the film's theme with an aesthetic evaluation of it.

The film's central metaphor for our existential entrapment is the tawdry circus run by the central character, Albert (Ake Groenberg), a middle-aged man beginning to feel the weight of his mortality. Involved with Anne (Harriet Andersson), a woman half his age, he's worried about his ability to keep her interested, just as she's worried about being deserted by him. A large subtext in the film is the crisis their relationship undergoes, but that crisis--and the relationship itself--must be understood in terms of the alienating existence that humans endure. "We're all stuck in hell. Stuck in hell... I want out of the circus!" as Albert moans.

Yet, typical of Bergman, there's some small consolation. At the end of the film, Albert and Anne return to one another. The circus-entrapment continues. The tawdry troop hitches up its wagons and moves on to another town, as it apparently always will. And Anne and Albert realize that their relationship is built on fear and loneliness as much as love. Like everything else, it's sawdust and tinsel. But in this circus we call life, that's no small thing.

Very good performances throughout the film, particularly by Ake Groenberg. The lighting is magnificent, and bears all the characteristics of later Bergman/Nyqvist collaborations.
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