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Intermezzo (as part of the “Ingrid Bergman in Sweden” DVD Box Set) (a J!-ENT DVD Review)

October 12, 2011 by  



An early Ingrid Bergman Swedish film from 1936 that would eventually be remade in Hollywood a few years later and would make Bergman a superstar around the world.  But as a fan of Bergman, I feel that the original film is classier, its characters much more realistic and also features a wonderful performance by its star talent!  Granted, it’s subjective to a viewer if you enjoy the 1936 Swedish film or the 1939 American film, but the fact that Bergman’s earlier Swedish films is being released in America is fantastic!  And “Intermezzo” is a wonderful inclusion to Kino’s “Ingrid Bergman in Sweden” DVD Box Set!

Images courtesy of © 2011 Kino International Corp. All rights reserved.

DVD TITLE: Intermezzo

DATE OF FILM RELEASE: 1936

DURATION: 88 Minutes

DVD INFORMATION: Black and White, Full Frame (1:37:1), Swedish with English subtitles

COMPANY: Kino International/Kino Lorber

RATED: NOT RATED

RELEASE DATE: 2011

Directed by Gustaf Molander

Written by Gosta Stevens and Gustaf Molander

Cinematography by Ake Dahlqvist

Starring:

Gosta Ekman as Professor Holger Brandt

Inga Tidblad as Margit Brandt

Ingrid Bergman as Anita Hoffman

Erik “Bullen” Berglund as Impresario Charles Moller

Hugo Bjorne as Thomas Stenborg

Hasse Ekman as Ake Brandt

Britt Hagman as Ann-Marie Brandt

Today, Ingrid Bergman’s name is synonymous with Hollywood’s golden age as a three-time Oscar winner and the star of such classics as Casablanca, Gaslight and Notorious. However, before she became a Hollywood legend, Bergman was the star of a series of Swedish films in the 1930s which are being rediscovered as a vital, if long-overlooked period in her singular career. Contains INTERMEZZO (1936), A WOMAN’S FACE (1938), and JUNE NIGHT (1940).

“She had talent they could not have made up Ingrid Bergman seemed as natural in her early films as she was dazzling – The Boston Globe.

Like Greta Garbo and Marlene Dietrich, foreign actresses who would make their debut Hollywood and would be embraced by an International audience, from Sweden, there was Ingrid Bergman.

Winner of three Academy Awards, two Emmy’s, a Tony Award, each for “Best Actress” and considered one of the greatest female actresses of all time in America (ranked #4 in the American Film Institute’s “Greatest Female Star”), there is no doubt that Ingrid Bergman is looked at as a classy, talented actress.

Best known for her roles in “Casablanca” (1942), “For Whom the Bell Tolls” (1943), “Gaslight” (1944), “The Bell of St. Mary’s” (1945), Hitchock’s “Spellbound” (1945) and “Notorious (1946), “Joan of Arc” (1948) and later in her career for “Anastasia” (1956), years before she began making Hollywood films, there was Ingrid Bergman, the Swedish actress.

Making her cinema debut in 1935 with “Munkbrogreven”, Bergman would not make her Hollywood debut until 1939.  But before then, she had made several Swedish films and three of them are included in the Kino International DVD Box Set titled “Ingrid Bergman in Sweden” which would contain her films “Intermezzo” (1936), “A Woman’s Face” (1938) and “June Night” (1940).

For her Swedish film “Intermezzo”, this romantic drama would be the actresses entry to Hollywood as renown Hollywood producer David O. Selznick (who would be responsible for bringing her to America, despite her lack of speaking English) would remake “Intermezzo” and release the 1939 film “Intermezzo: A Love Story” which would receive rave reviews from film critics but most of all, noted for her work ethic.

As for the original film, “Intermezzo” was known for its two stars Gosta Ekman (best known for his role in F.W. Murnau’s silent film “Faust”) and Shakespeare and Strindberg theatrical actress Inga Tidblad, but a role that would showcase Bergman in an important role.

“Intermezzo” (which means a short composition that fits between two main movements of a larger musical work or a play) is a film that begins with the Thomas Stenborg (played by Hugo Bjorne) who has decided to call it an end of his touring events and focus on developing up-and-coming pianist Anita Hoffman (played by Ingrid Bergman).

Anita is a down-to-Earth musician who loves teach kids how to play piano and really never thought about making it big, despite people who compliment her on her piano playing.

Meanwhile, we are introduced to the Brandt family which consists of popular Swedish violinist Professor Holger Brandt (played by Gosta Ekman) who is not on tour and staying home with his family which include his wife Margit (played by Inga Tidblad), his older son Ake (played by Hasse Ekman) and his daughter Ann-Marie (played by Britt Hagman).

For Holger, he hopes to find an piano accompanist that will help him enjoy music and come up with more creative music that he can play to audience throughout the world.  But for now, he is happy to be there for his family, especially his daughter Ann-Marie.

Ann-Marie is a girl who is a bit mature for her age but she loves being around her father, listening to him play his violin, having him listen to her play the piano but most of all, she is daddy’s little girl.  And she loves playing a record by her father, in which her favorite part of a song is her father’s intermezzo which she listened to all the time when her father was away.

As Ann-Marie has a piano lesson with her teacher Anita Hoffman, Holger’s wife Margit enjoys the time with her husband but worries that his workaholic life and his constant touring will hurt their marriage, or he may not find her attractive anymore.  If anything, Margit loves her husband with all her heart, and not matter what problems they may have in their life, she will love him forever.

As Ann-Marie remembers that she has a birthday party coming, she asks her mother if Anita can attend.  Sure enough, Anita attends and during the party, we see Ann-Marie playing the piano along with her father.  Afterward, as the family and their friends enjoy a good time, but when Anita starts playing the piano, her beautiful piano playing catches the attention of Holger and he begins playing the violin as she continues to play the piano.

This is the piano accompanist that he has been looking for…Anita Hoffman.  And as Holger tries to convince her of how she can succeed as a music artist, especially working under him, he shows her that her dreams of seeing the world and playing music to a large audience can come true.

And sure enough, Anita Hoffman agrees.

But as we go forward into the future, we learn that Holger and Anita are not just musical partners, but they have become lovers and have been keeping their romantic meetings a secret.

And now the lying and hiding has taken its toll on Anita and she feels that the both of them should end their romantic fling.

But for Holger, it is too late.  He has fallen in love with Anita, as she has fallen in love with him.

And despite having a loving family, Holger decides to tell his wife the truth and leaves the family for Anita.  And the two would go on to become a powerful and popular music duo but also a couple who loves each other.

But over the course of time, Holger can be seen missing his daughter Anne-Marie a lot and is literally torn by his guilt for leaving behind his family and Anita can sense his pain.  She also knows that people recognize her talent, but the longer she stays as an accompanist, her career will not go anywhere.

So, Anita must make the decision… Choose love or her career?   And Holger must decide if he should continue the path that he put himself in through his decision to stay with Anita or can he return to the loving family he left behind?

Both Anita and Holger must decide, is their love forever…or if their romance is just an “intermezzo”.

VIDEO & AUDIO:

“Intermezzo” is presented in black and white (1:37:1) in Swedish with English subtitles.

First, let me just say how thrilled I am to see Ingrid Bergman’s earlier works being released on DVD in America.  And knowing that a lot of the films from the silent years to the 30’s, chances of seeing print damage for these older films is common.  The question is of how the original print has fared as they have been kept in the Svensk Film Vaults for quite a long time.

“Intermezzo” was released on DVD by Fox Lorber long over a decade ago, but the DVD quality for this newer release is much better than the original.

For “Intermezzo”, for the most part, picture quality is good.  No major print damage in terms of warping but there are a few instances where the image tends to shake a bit (early in the beginning) and also some issues with periodic darkening.  But this is pretty much in the beginning of the film and very brief.  The majority of the film is watchable and in good condition.

In fact, I was quite amazed at times to see how good things looked. Black levels were nice and deep, whites and grays were also well-contrast.

As for the audio, the Swedish dialogue is clear and understandable, I detected no hissing or pops during my viewing of this film and the English subtitles were very easy to read.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

There are no special features in any of the DVD’s for the “Ingrid Bergman in Sweden” DVD box set.

EXTRAS:

There is a info. sheet included with the DVD Box set explaining Ingrid Bergman’s career.

For Ingrid Bergman fans, especially those who are familiar with her Hollywood film “Intermezzo: A Love Story”, to have “Intermezzo” included with the DVD Box Set of “Ingrid Bergman in Sweden” is a real treat!

And granted, while she is known for her Hollywood debut for the remake of her Swedish film, for me, it was great to see her paired with Gosta Ekman.

The film for the most part is a love drama that I found to be quite wonderful and charming.  The music for the film was delightful and the focus on the music playing for the film will definitely catch the attention of those who enjoy classical music.  But the film has a lot of energy thanks to the music playing of the characters but also seeing the sweet young daughter Ann-Marie telling her father of what she is doing wrong but also being mature, while also being daddy’s little girl.

While Bergman’s character of Anita Hoffman would probably be seen as a very negative character during the 1930’s and would be seen as a vile homewrecker, the screenplay is an interesting juxtaposition to David Lean’s 1945 film “Brief Encounter”.  Two strangers in love but in “Brief Encounter”, we know that their love is strong but both characters have their own family.  But also interesting is how affairs and moral dilemma of its characters are showcased in both films in the ’30s and ’40s in cinema.

For “Intermezzo”, you hate to see a loving family destroyed by an affair, especially as Holger’s wife Margit forgives him because she loves him.  But it’s Holger’s “all or nothing” decisions that makes him leave his family forever to start a new life with Anita.  And as love can be strong and powerful, when it comes to their age, Holger is 25-years-older than Anita and he is starting to tire from the concerts and starts to miss the life he once lived, the family he loves.

And you can sense with Anita that she knows his pain but she also knows that to heal his pain, she would have to make the choice of leaving.  But can she?

Ingrid Bergman does a wonderful job of playing  Anita Hoffman, the aspiring concert pianist but also lover for Holger.  It’s quite obvious that Anita has not had many relationships and the gleam in her eye is primarily when it relates to music, seeing the world and performing.  Whereas, the gleam in her eyes, was what Holger once had when he was younger, he’s already an accomplished, popular musician in Sweden but for a man of his age, you want to settle down and obviously, age and his guilt become the antagonist for this couple.

But there is no doubt that the actress does show her star talent in this film and it helps the film that you have star talents such as Gosta Ekman and Inga Tidblad also giving a wonderful performance for the film.  Interesting to note, actor Hasse Ekman (who is real-life son of Gosta Ekman) who plays Holger’s older son Ake, would later become the a renown Swedish filmmaker before Ingmar Bergman and would later star in three of Ingmar Bergman’s films.

Overall, “Intermezzo” is an enjoyable Swedish love story with a wonderful performance by its talents. Granted, the traditional thinking of a wife staying with her man, despite his affair is probably old-fashioned for modern Western viewers but for those who can put themselves in the shoes of an audience at that time, and watching a loving family destroyed by an affair, you can only wonder how audiences reacted back then.  Especially with the ending that involves Holger’s daughter.  Granted, nothing surprising by today’s films but back then, I can only guess that this was a heartbreaking scene that shocked audiences back in 1936.

But watching it today, “Intermezzo” Is definitely a Bergman film that showcases her talent before she came to Hollywood.

Is it better than her Hollywood remake?  That’s subjective but for me, I enjoyed the original “Intermezzo” much more.  And if you are a Bergman fan, “Intermezzo” is a wonderful inclusion to Kino’s “Ingrid Bergman in Sweden” DVD Box set.

 NOTE: Review is for the film, not the overall DVD Box Set.


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