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Bergman Kills Bacteria! The Bris Soap Commercials

Sweden 1951. Dir: Ingmar Bergman. 12 min. DCP

In 1951, Ingmar Bergman, with bills to pay (the Swedish film industry was on hiatus in a tax dispute with the government; the filmmaker, by then twice divorced, had three families to support), wrote and directed nine commercials for a new anti-bacterial soap called Bris (Breeze, in English.) He was given substantial resources (they were Sweden’s most expensive ads to that time) and considerable latitude; the spots, made with a full film crew, and shot by Gunnar Fischer, Bergman’s great cinematographer of the 1950s, were meant to be screened in cinemas. Bergman, years later, described them as “miniature films in the sprit of Georges Méliès,” and said, “I had a lot of fun challenging stereotypes of the commercial genre.”

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