The Seventh Seal, made the following year, would establish Bergman as cinema’s prime movie metaphysician; Wild Strawberries and The Virgin Spring would stamp his pure, dour philosophy on a generation of filmmakers and viewers. As much as anyone, he convinced the world that film was an art, and that handsome faces suffering in closeup could be the visual equivalent of literature. Yet it was this comedy that earned “the solemn Swede” his first international eminence. On the long night of the summer solstice, ten people from the aristocracy, the bourgeoisie and the servant class stumble through brief trysts until they find their proper mates. Indefatigable lover of women’s wisdom, remorseless anatomizer of men’s insecurities, Bergman would make sterner, possibly more profound works, but never again one so blithely understanding of the mischief humans commit on one another—the folly they know is sex and fleetingly convince themselves is love.
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