Sunday, November 08, 2020

Carnies' Twilight (aka Sawdust and Tinsel)

 Flashback and Mirrors

That Gycklarnas afton [Carnies' Twilight, 1953] is often taken as Bergman's first 'major' work, at the expense of Summer with Monika (at least off-continent), rankles a little. But if taken as his first major 'dreamwork,' the consideration becomes partially understandable. In previous Bergmans, the flashback acted as precursor to the liminal state; in Carnies' Twilight, the early flashback contains aspects of the anxiety dream, which seep into the main action that plays out in oneiric humiliations (stolen clothing; mocking laughter; sawdust kicked in the face; sexual leer at women on parade) and heightened grotesquerie. 

Another symmetry exists nested in the main action: the trajectories of Anne (Harriet Andersson) and Albert ("Alberti," Åke Grönberg), who stray from each other out of a shared ennui with the circus and their lives together there. These dualities are given expression — two-fold — in the mise-en-scène: (1) two-shots take the place of shot-reverse-shots: both actors face the camera, usually one behind the shoulder of the other, dialoguing while lost in thought, as though addressing each other and an audience; (2) the preponderance of mirrors and reflections, more a searching for confirmation than a confirmation outright.

Even with suicide, Albert commits it by proxy: a gunshot at Dorothy the bear.


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]

Till glädje [To Joy, 1950]

Sommarlek [Summer Interlude, 1951]

Kvinnors väntan [Women's Waiting, 1952]

Sommaren med Monika [Summer with Monika, 1953] 

Gycklarnas afton [Carnies' Twilight, aka Sawdust and Tinsel, 1954]

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