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

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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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18 September 1969 (USA)  »

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The Rite  »

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1.33 : 1
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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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THE RITE (Ingmar Bergman, 1969; TV) ***
12 March 2007 | by (Naxxar, Malta) – See all my reviews

It's funny that I checked this out on the same day as PRISON (1949): having found that film stimulating (I'd been away from Bergman or Art-house cinema, for that matter, for a while) after going through several Bela Lugosi films of late, I then found myself quite worn-out intellectually by the time I was done with THE RITE - which only confirms my previously-held belief that Bergman (like his staunchest pupil, Woody Allen) is best taken in small doses!; actually, this factor also goes a long way in explaining why his 5-hour marathon SCENES FROM A MARRIAGE (1973) and AUTUMN SONATA (1978) have been gathering dust among my extensive "DVDs To Watch" pile for the last 3 years already!!

That is not to say that I didn't admire the film on an artistic level (the rating alone attests to that), though stylistically constrained by having originated in TV - but which actually suits its claustrophobic tone and compact plotting (the film is mercifully short at just 73 minutes). Still, the constant soul-searching (often descending into hysterics) is matched by no-holds-barred performances from a slim cast

  • which almost make it seem like a parody of the typical Bergman film:
for one thing, the climactic re-enactment of the indecent 'rite' (for which a troupe of performers has been indicted before an outwardly tenacious judge, but who's ultimately revealed to be as angst-ridden as they are!) would be fairly risible - what with the male members of the trio sporting, for no obvious reason, huge black dildos as part of their costume - were it not for the hypnotic intensity of the mise-en-scene!!

Needless to say, despite my reservations about the director's work in general, I'll still be renting the titles I haven't watched from Tartan's "Bergman Collection" which the owner of my local DVD outlet has said are on the way...


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