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Prison (1949)

Fängelse (original title)
A movie director is approached by his old math teacher with a great movie idea: the Devil declares that the Earth is hell. The director rejects the idea, but subsequent events in the life ... See full summary »

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
Doris Svedlund ...
Birger Malmsten ...
Eva Henning ...
Sofi
Hasse Ekman ...
Stig Olin ...
Peter
Irma Christenson ...
Linnea
Anders Henrikson ...
Paul
Marianne Löfgren ...
Mrs. Bohlin
Bibi Lindqvist ...
Anna
Curt Masreliez ...
Alf
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Britta Holmberg ...
Birgitta's Mother in Dream (voice)
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Storyline

A movie director is approached by his old math teacher with a great movie idea: the Devil declares that the Earth is hell. The director rejects the idea, but subsequent events in the life of a writer, a friend of the director's, and a young prostitute he loves seem to prove the math teacher's idea. Written by Erik Gregersen <erik@astro.as.utexas.edu>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

Ingmar Bergman reflects on life, love, the Devil and immortality...

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Drama

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Release Date:

4 July 1962 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Prison  »

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Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

This is the first Bergman film where Death makes a personal appearance. In a pastiche of silent-film slapstick, played by an Italian acrobat troupe, Death suddenly jumps in. See more »

Crazy Credits

There are no opening titles in this film. An unseen narrator reads the credits, as well as the title, out loud approximately ten minutes in to the movie. The sole title card is the standard "Slut" (Swedish for "End") that closes the picture. See more »

Connections

Edited into Histoire(s) du cinéma: Une histoire seule (1989) See more »

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User Reviews

 
Interesting, inventive, thought provoking early Bergman.
7 April 2012 | by (US) – See all my reviews

Bergman's first film where he wrote his own script, and had real artistic control (in exchange for a tiny budget.).

An aging film professor, just released from a mental asylum, visits an old student, now a successful director, and challenges him to make a film showing that the devil really rules the earth. While dismissive in the moment, the director is haunted by the idea, and a journalist friend suggests the film could take off from his experience interviewing a very young prostitute.

We then enter the prostitute's story, and it's (intentionally) never fully clear if what we're seeing is the film that arose from the concept, or the truth of the girl's life.

Beautifully photographed, and full of inventive touches (the main credits are spoken, not seen, over a long tracking shot of a dark cobblestone street), I was also surprised that it contained more of a dark sense of humor, about itself and the world, then most critics acknowledge. In turn, that keeps the film's occasional youthful over-obsession with despair from ever feeling unbearably sophomoric.

I will admit it lost steam for me in the last third, some of the performers aren't quite up to the heavy burdens of the script, and a few sequences are awkward and bespeak Bergman's comparative youth. But the next morning I found myself haunted by images and moments even if the whole only felt partly successful.


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