Magician, The (1958)

The Magician (1958), written and directed by Ingmar Bergman.

In 1846 (the year of revolutions!), a gang of spiritualists and quack medicine operators are detained by a skeptical nobleman and his cronies. They want a demonstration of the supernatural and intend to ridicule. But even charlatans can be kicked around only so much and give back more than expected.

It's a (mostly) light comedy and light thriller, with just a bit of sex farce. The locals expect quick romance from traveling mountebanks, not without reason: some are willing, though some aren't.

In a way it's part of a well-known thriller genre: the stage magician who can do real magic, the skeptic who wants to believe, the scoffer who stays in the haunted house. Interesting commentary on the IMDB says that the Magician is the director and the plot illustrates his relation to his art and the critics.

A lot of the scenes are stagey, almost as if taken from a play, although it makes me think we are peeking into a storybook. For contrast, a few moments show more dramatic camera work.

Plaintive guitar score. Inspired by a G.K. Chesterton play; I did not know that.

Criterion DVD.