Prison

aka The Devil's Wanton (Fängelse)
Sweden 1949. Dir: Ingmar Bergman. 78 min. DCP

“Human life is an inferno.” Originally released in English as The Devil's Wanton, the first film Bergman directed from his own original screenplay tackles many central Bergman themes (illusion and reality, evil, suffering, God, faith) and impresses with its stylistic and structural experimentation. A filmmaker (Hasse Ekman), encouraged by a former teacher to make a movie about hell on earth, discusses the idea with an alcoholic writer (Birger Malmsten), who proposes the life story of a troubled young prostitute (Doris Svedlund) he knows. Prison’s eclectic visual style mixes naturalistic detail with Expressionistic excess; its surrealist dream sequence and self-reflexive film-within-a-film structure point the way to Bergman’s later, mature work. “Bergman's first important film ... imprinted with many of the expressive means that were to become identified as the director’s personal style" (Ephraim Katz, The Film Encyclopedia).

 

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BERGMAN KILLS BACTERIA! The screening of Prison on Saturday, November 3 is preceded by Bergman's Bris soap commercials.