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The Rite (1969)

Riten (original title)
A judge in an unnamed country interviews three actors, together and singly, provoking them while investigating a pornographic performance for which they may face a fine. Their relationships... See full summary »

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
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Thea Winkelmann
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Sebastian Fisher
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Hans Winkelmann
Erik Hell ...
Judge Dr. Abrahamson
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Priest
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Storyline

A judge in an unnamed country interviews three actors, together and singly, provoking them while investigating a pornographic performance for which they may face a fine. Their relationships are complicated: Sebastian, volatile, a heavy drinker, in debt, guilty of killing his former partner, is having an affair with that man's wife. She is Thea, high strung, prone to fits, and seemingly fragile, currently married to Sebastian's new partner, Hans. Hans is the troupe leader, wealthy, self-contained, growing tired. The judge plays on the trio's insecurities, but when they finally, in a private session with him, perform the masque called The Rite, they may have their revenge Written by <jhailey@hotmail.com>

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Drama

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18 September 1969 (USA)  »

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The Rite  »

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1.33 : 1
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Quotes

Hans Winkelmann: Isn't it better to have insecurity with small artificial islands of security? It agrees better with the real state of affairs than the other way round.
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User Reviews

 
Examines interpersonal relationships and psychology like Bergman's other 1960s films, but not of the same standard
14 July 2015 | by See all my reviews

1969's RITEN (The Rite) is one of the least known of Ingmar Bergman's films of the 1960s. Part of that is because the film was made for Swedish television instead of enjoying an international theatrical release. But another reason is that RITEN is markedly inferior to his other films of the time.

In an unnamed European country, a judge (Erik Hell) summons a traveling troupe of three actors to investigate whether the play they have brought to his community is pornographic. Two of the actors are overtly neurotic. Sebastian Fisher (Anders Ek) is prone to starting fires and afflicted by ill health. he is also glum and insulting. Thea Winkelmann (Ingrid Thulin) is wracked with existential anxiety, overly sensitive and feels suffocated by her surroundings. Hans Winkelmann (Gunnar Björkstrand) is the level-headed one who keeps the troupe together.

By the early mid-1960s Bergman had moved on from religious anxiety to an interest in human relationships and psychology. The three actors can be seen as different aspects of a single personality, and Bergman's comments on this in Images: My Life in Film are worth reading. More mysterious is their relationship to the judge, which dominates in the shocking last scene which I won't spoil here. The connection of drama to religious ritual in Ancient Greek is a theme. There is also some daring sexuality here: it's hard to imagine some of the scenes even in a theatrical release of the time, let alone television broadcast.

Why is this not among Bergman's best? Although the director had his trusted cameraman Sven Nykvist on hand, the cinematography nothing special: the elegantly planned long takes of other films are missing here, and some shots break off haphazardly. The concerns of the film are too repetitive after THE SILENCE, PERSONA and HOUR OF THE WOLF, and neither Hell nor Ek are pleasant to watch. Still, Björnstrand and Thulin give an engaging performance. Furthermore, I'm left wondering if there is an homage here to Bergman's colleague Jean-Luc Godard, as the film is divided into a series of tableaux (like Godard's VIVRE SA VIE) and Thulin wears a distinctly Anna Karina-like wig.


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