Tuesday, August 03, 2021

The Devil's Eye

Short Notes, Oh I Say... —

 "A woman's chastity is a sty in the devil's eye."

—Irish proverb 

Gunnar Björnstrand, ambassador of hell and narrative, plays the role of the proceedings' emcee in Bergman's Djävulens öge [The Devil's Eye, 1960]. Hell is 'real' and 'material' — despite the artifice of the presenter's realm (see the rear-projected backdrops of exaggerated draughtsman beauty), and that of the Devil himself (Stig Järrel) (what with the magnified flames crackling through the window at his back). This damned Devil's got a sty in his eye — something is amiss on Earth — a virgin persists towards her marriage. The Devil sends Don Juan (Jarl Kulle) from the netherworld, for DJ is among his favorite 'courtiers' — but first he must confront a group of punitive characters that come straight out of Buñuel. An objective: "Go to Earth and rob this fiancée of her virginity." (The age-old question: 'Why do Satan and God require avatars to do their bidding?') (Hell's materiality: Don Juan and Pablo [Sture Lagerwall], in love/lust with Natan [Gertrud Fridh], emerge from a well that leads to labyrinths and "secret elevators.")

The vicar (Nils Poppe): "My life is just a series of fortunate accidents."

"It's good to be a strong person, because you get to be as weak as you want."

"You're the 37th."

Give me a new attitude that's "crisp and clear, but loving."

Bergman goes against the grain: Bibi Andersson loves him. There is no absolute grammar. Andersson and Kulle against the wall. The chaos Hell wreaks on the normal world during its intrusion.


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