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SPECIFICATIONS
  • 1.37:1 Standard
  • Swedish PCM Mono
  • English subtitles
  • 1 Disc
FEATURES
  • Interviews with director Ingmar Bergman and a brief excerpt from a press conference for the film, recorded in 1967 and ’68 for Swedish television
  • New interview with actor Liv Ullmann
  • An Introduction to Ingmar Bergman, a 1968 documentary made during the film’s production, featuring an extensive interview with Bergman
  • An essay by critic Michael Sragow

Shame

Blu-ray
Reviewed by: Chris Galloway

Directed By: Ingmar Bergman
1968 | 103 Minutes | Licensor: Svensk Filmindustri

Release Information
Blu-ray | MSRP: $39.95 | Series: The Criterion Collection | Edition: #961
Sony Pictures Home Entertainment

Release Date: February 5, 2019
Review Date: February 3, 2019

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SYNOPSIS

Ingmar Bergman’s Shame is at once an examination of the violent legacy of World War II and a scathing response to the escalation of the conflict in Vietnam. Max von Sydow and Liv Ullmann star as musicians living in quiet retreat on a remote island farm, until the civil war that drove them from the city catches up with them there. Amid the chaos of the military struggle, vividly evoked by pyrotechnics and by Sven Nykvist’s handheld camera work, the two are faced with impossible moral choices that tear at the fabric of their relationship. This film, which contains some of the most devastating scenes in Bergman’s oeuvre, shows the impact of war on individual lives.


PICTURE

The Criterion Collection presents Ingmar Bergman’s Shame on Blu-ray in its original aspect ratio of about 1.37:1 on this dual-layer disc. The 1080p/24hz high-definition presentation comes from a new 2K restoration scanned from a 35mm interpositive.

Despite the lack of the original negative this manages to still come off looking spectacular. The level of detail in every shot is staggering, from the run-down conditions of the farm house in the background, to the close-ups of the dirt covered faces of the actors. Every little detail is sharp and crisp, pretty much leaping off of the screen, and I don’t recall the image ever faltering in this regard. Even smoky scenes come off clear, with the smoke looking to be rendered smoothly without banding. Film grain likewise is rendered perfectly, even remaining clean and natural during some of the darker shots that present a heavier grain level.

The restoration has also thoroughly removed specs, dirt, lines, scratches, et al. I didn’t notice a single blemish here. Contrast is also brilliantly presented, with decent whites, strong, rich blacks, and terrific grays with smooth transitions in between. This is a wonderful looking photographic image in the end, just really sharp and pleasant.

9/10

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AUDIO

Presented in Swedish 1.0 linear PCM, the audio surprises a bit. This is one of Bergman’s more “action packed” films (there are gun shots, explosions, and everything!) and the track ends up being far more dynamic because of it. Still, some explosions are a bit flat, as are some gun shots. Having said that, though, dialogue sounds great with excellent fidelity, and the track also doesn’t feature any notable damage like pops or cracks, though there can be some audible noise in places. Still, it’s a strong monaural presentation.

7/10

SUPPLEMENTS

I’m always amazed that Criterion manages to keep digging up material regarding Bergman and they manage to dig up some great stuff here around the director and this film. The supplements start with a couple of interviews with the director around the film’s production and release. First is a news item featuring a story on the film’s production, which aired in 1967 on September 9th. The 5-minute segment goes over the production and features the interviewer asking Bergman on whether the conflict in Vietnam influenced the film in anyways and his reasons for not using music. This is followed by a 15-minute interview with Bergman from a 1968 episode of a show called “Forum,” where the director talks about the film, war and how it effects people and the arts, and the apolitical nature of the protagonists in the film. Together the two interviews give an idea of what influenced Bergman and what he was hoping to say with the film.

Liv Ullmann next provides a new interview for this release, talking here about “the Fårö Island years” of Bergman’s career. She talks about how their personal relationship developed, her leaving her husband to be with Bergman on the island, and then the films they made during this period: Hour of the Wolf, Persona, Shame, and The Passion of Anna. She explains what she remembers about how Bergman developed the films, what influenced him, how he developed them, and how one would influence the next film (or dreams and nightmares to be a bit more correct). It’s a great, rather personal interview, Ullmann being very open about her relationship with Bergman, and what it was like to work with him on a film when the two of them had this more intimate relationship off set. Ullmann’s interviews are always wonderful and this is no different.

The biggest feature on here is a 72-minute program made for New York’s public access station WNET in 1968, called An Introduction to Ingmar Bergman, which, through various clips and interviews with Bergman, Ullmann, and Max von Sydow, goes over Bergman’s career up to Shame, while also showcasing some behind-the-scenes footage. For those already familiar with Bergman’s work and career it probably won’t offer anything significantly new, but if anyone is looking for a decent primer and introduction to the director and his work they can do a lot worse.

In the included insert Michael Sragow then provides an essay on the film and its presentation of the impact of war on marriage.

Not a lot but the supplements all end up being rather significant taken altogether, beautifully covering Bergman’s career during this period.

7/10

CLOSING

If you don’t plan on picking up Criterion’s Bergman set (which includes this disc) then this is a very easy recommendation thanks to the engaging features and slick looking presentation.


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