Sawdust and Tinsel (1953)

Sawdust and Tinsel
Written and directed by Ingmar Bergman
(number 309)

Content warning for animals in distress 😦

According to imdb, this movie was originally marketed in the States as a sex film under the title “The Naked Night” … so. That’s interesting to know. There I thought it was just an incredibly depressing film about how much it sucks to be in a crappy circus in Sweden.

I mean. It is about that for sure. This is a film which opens with about the saddest story I’ve ever seen being told and acted out. Hit all my anti-bullying feels and put me in the weird position of feeling bad for a clown. It immediately made me think of the Seventh Seal which I found a lot more enjoyable. The bleakness and casual violence also reminded me of that other weird circus film on the list… which was almost certainly influenced by this one.

What’s the appeal of showing harsh human drama, relationship breakdown against the backdrop of the circus? Is it to see behind the curtain of what’s generally considered something fun and lighthearted? Or is to show that these people who you might consider free/carefree/beyond normal actually have pain and suffering in their lives… a sort of a way to prevent people running away to join the circus?

Does it make me love the people? I just… I mean. Sort of because I feel awful every time someone is humiliated, but they’re so awful and somewhat unforgivable. The whole film I was just kind of waiting for it to be over, but at the same time I was quite invested in what happened? so I guess… yes. Yes, this film made me love a whole lot of messed up, mean people. Anne had a really good response to Frans the actor trying to insist he could make love to her if he wanted to, she bit his ear and promised to make mincemeat of his lips if he kissed her again.

Bechdel test: Anne, Alma and Agda. Only women with A names and only in different scenes to each other or only there as background.

Best line:

Albert (drunk and angry): Come to think of it I don’t hate a soul. Not even the policeman on the square today. Not even Anne, although she is unfaithful. You despise me, you despise everyone. But I like people, I want to cuddle them!

State of Mind: The end is so bleak, the whole film is so bleak. I do like the silhouettes of the caravan on the hillside against the sky. Overall though, this is a freaking depressing film and I’m not sure how I feel about having seen it. I don’t think I’ll be watching it again in a hurry and I’m not sure I can recommend this. There’s some clever scripting and yeah, it’s filmed well, but I think Seventh Seal is better.

Watched movie count


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