Wednesday, April 22, 2020

Ship to India

A Passage to Maturation


In an earlier piece on Crisis I mentioned a similarity to an Ozu film in Ship to India [Skepp till India Land, 1947], but I would never assert that Ozu was a filmmaker Bergman had his eyes on given the essential non-distribution of his films in the West for a very long time, first; — and second because Bergman was a cinephile of shall we say super-mellifluous tastes. (Too many trills in the line; he not only hated Godard, but also Welles.) Nevertheless, one scene. The rest owes itself to a handful of Warner and RKO programmers not to mention the cinema of mutiny and, say, the superior L'Atalante or The Docks of New York...

The Italian style of Crisis gives way here to more modern, then-contemporary '47 American studio values.

With Swedish allowances: besotted Johannes attempts to rape his father's mistress (before her variety-show gig she was a whore), out of resentment for his congenital humpback, against a staircase before his mother steps inbetween to break up the assault. He's ashamed. At the next communal dinner, his father (a physiognomical cross between Max von Sydow and John Huston) brings up the missing cognac; Johannes tells him it's being replaced.

Johannes and Sally the whore bond in a hayloft. Sally says later to Johannes's mother, after she proclaims in her constant Jean Arthur voice, "Imagine if I'd hit back after every time I was hit." — "[...] One shouldn't just accept things like an animal that's whipped until it dies. One should stand up for one's rights." The paradox of Bergman the Feminist.

And always the pull of the Hollywood style still in this era of his.

To wit, an excellent final act in which action and kinetic dramatics take grasp and run the scenario over the gunwale...

And then...: the snapback to the present as we're reminded the film was a flashback. Johannes lies in a dirty sea meadow, found by two young girls. It's seven years later. He runs up to a ship and Sally is there; he coaxes her into coupledom.

The seagulls fly; the pair rush to a departing ship; their love is sealed. No indication whatsoever of India Land.


Other writing on Ingmar Bergman at Cinemasparagus:

Kris [Crisis, 1946]

Skepp till India Land [Ship to India, 1947]

Hamnstad [Port of Call, 1948]

Törst [Thirst, 1949]


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