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The Magician (The Criterion Collection) [Blu-ray]


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Product Details

  • Format: Multiple Formats, Blu-ray, NTSC, Special Edition, Subtitled
  • Language: Swedish
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region A/1 (Read more about DVD/Blu-ray formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: Criterion
  • DVD Release Date: October 12, 2010
  • Run Time: 101 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (42 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B003WKL6Y4
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #144,734 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Special Features

  • New, restored high-definition digital transfer
  • New visual essay by Bergman scholar Peter Cowie
  • Brief 1967 video interview with director Ingmar Bergman about the film
  • Rare English-language audio interview with Bergman
  • New and improved English subtitle translation
  • PLUS: A booklet featuring an essay by critic Geoff Andrew

  • Editorial Reviews

    THE MAGICIAN (Ansiktet), directed by Ingmar Bergman (The Seventh Seal, Fanny and Alexander), is an engaging, brilliantly conceived tale of deceit from one of cinema’s premier illusionists. Max von Sydow (The Virgin Spring, The Exorcist) stars as Dr. Vogler, a mid-nineteenth-century traveling mesmerist and peddler of potions whose magic is put to the test by a small town’s cruel, eminently rational minister of health, Dr. Vergerus (Wild Strawberries’ Gunnar Bjornstrand). The result is a diabolically clever battle of wits that’s both frightening and funny, shot in rich, gorgeously gothic black and white.

    Customer Reviews

    Great movie that has atmosphere and suspense - A Bergman film noir horror masterpiece.
    Tom Erickson
    Even the look is similar; Max Von Sydow is the "perfect choice of actor" in portraying this hypnotist, con-artist, or real magician.
    Gerard D. Launay
    Truth seems to be in question much of the time but doesn't seem to suffer never surfacing especially at the end.
    W. Latham

    Most Helpful Customer Reviews

    52 of 59 people found the following review helpful By Gerard D. Launay on August 7, 2010
    Format: Blu-ray
    An underrated film by the master Ingmar Bergman. Part horror, part comedy, part erotic, part
    symbolic...it is a movie that should generate a lot of thinking when it is over.

    Ostensibly it is a movie about the continuing conflict between faith and science...or reason and art but there are no quick answers. The character of Dr. Vogler may have been influenced by the myth and fact of Rasputin. Even the look is similar; Max Von Sydow is the "perfect choice of actor" in portraying this hypnotist, con-artist, or real magician.

    I never had the sense that the "magic" was real, but persons behave as if the illusions were true. After a cynical medical officer humiliates Dr. Vogler, attempts to prove Vogler is nothing but a charlatan, the magician challenges him for a private performance. And in that performance Dr. Vogler dies and comes back to life again...the metaphor of Christ.

    The nature of God requires us to keep on questioning. This was a theme in "The Seventh Seal' and it reappears in this film. Recommended...not as a masterpiece but as an important work of the director.
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    30 of 37 people found the following review helpful By darragh o'donoghue on October 5, 2001
    Format: VHS Tape
    Ingmar Bergman's best films give the viewer the feeling of participating in a rite. Its rhythms are less those of conventional narrative, than of theatre or a religious procession, say. As with rites, the appeal is not to the viewer's intellect; their effect is both sensual and spiritual, troubling precisely because we can't put our finger on that appeal.
    Of course, this requires a kind of faith, and is open to charges of manipulation, precisely the theme of 'The Magician', a splendid slice of unnerving Grand Guignol horror, where a rather academic argument between the Enlightenment values of sceince, reason and empiricism confront those of superstition, magic and the inexplicable. These latter values might be called medieval, pre-Renaissance, and we are reminded that the modern theatre developed in this period from the Church, from rites and passion plays. this is the kind of effect 'The Magician' has, visually and tonally.
    The argument is not between the doctor and the mesmerist, but between the film's surface narrative (which, as an argument, promotes the predominance of reason) and the film's form (which destroys every attempt at argument). Everything within the film that seems to derive from supernatural forces can all be ascribed, more or less, to rational causes, for example psychological weakness; even if it is this very weakness, that border between what we know and what we can't know, in which the mesmerist exists. Although we might say 'Ah, it's only a delusion', the very fact that these self-generated delusions can convincingly take the place of safe, everyday reality, can become that reality, suggests the limits of rationality, without any recourse to the supernatural.
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    20 of 24 people found the following review helpful By blockhed on August 28, 2005
    Format: VHS Tape
    The correct title of this film is The Face. Since it partly deals with the way that artistic truth has to be packaged and promoted by hucksters it is not surprising that whoever distributed it in the US monkeyed around with Bergman's original title. More surprising is that an exceptionally stimulating, well-directed, well-written and finely acted work like this has only collected 3 Amazon reviews in the last 5 years. The actor's trade is here presented as closely akin to religion. Does the miraculous actually happen? Has it ever happened, even if only just once? Pleasure in art requires a suspension of disbelief: anyone, therefore, who has enjoyed a story, a picture, a film, has replaced reason with faith --- if only for an hour or so. There are certainly some people, entire sects of the puritanically minded (including groups of scientists, rationalists, and so on) who hate art, presumably seeing it as inherently fraudulent. At the same time, as Holly Hunter has remarked, actors are only beggars and gypsies; beyond the bounds of respectable society. When this theatrical tale ends the god appears from the machine, nevertheless, and the suggestion is that miracles do occasionally happen. Anyone at all interested in this subject owes it to him/herself to see this subtle film, by an acknowledged master of the medium, and one of the greatest of the C20th.
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    7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Christopher Culver TOP 1000 REVIEWER on April 23, 2010
    Format: DVD
    The three films that Ingmar Bergman produced at the close of the 1950s -- DET SJUNDE INSEGLET, SMULTRONSTAELLET and JUNGFRUKAELLAN -- tower so high in his output that one might forget that these were not his only productions of the era. ANSIKTET ("The Face", released in English-speaking markets as THE MAGICIAN) from 1958 is one of his lesser-known films.

    In mid-19th century Sweden the magician Albert Emanuel Vogler (Max van Sydow) goes from town to town promising people cures for their ailments and performing magic tricks, including what was the sensation of the time, hypnosis. He is joined by his tout (Aake Fridell), his "ward" Mr. Aman (Ingrid Thulin) and his "grandmother" and the troupe's maker of patent medicine (Naima Wifstrand). After fleeing the law after a performance in one town, they pass through the forest and enter another community. Here they are detained by the authorities, so that the physician Vergerus (Gunnar Bjornstrand), the consul Egerman (Erland Josephson) can decide a wager on whether Vogler's tricks are real spiritual powers or scientifically explainable illusions.

    While ANSIKTET should not be overlooked for fans of Bergman, I think it's fair that the film is not ranked among Bergman's greatest achievements. Characterization is pretty slim -- we get no idea of why Vogler and his companion chose this life, and Vergerus is so shallow that Gunnar Bjornstrand seems wasted. And had the film ended three minutes earlier it would have been one of Bergman's more powerful conclusions, but instead we get a completely unexpected happy ending that just seems lame.
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