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Frank's Movie Log

My life at the movies.

Sawdust and Tinsel

(Gycklarnas afton)
1953 | Sweden | 93 min | More...
A still from Sawdust and Tinsel (1953)
  • Watched on B+: 4 stars (out of 5)
    on Thu Apr 22, 2021 via Criterion Channel

    I tend to dislike circus movies, for the same reason I dislike circuses. Too much broad artifice and force-fed spectacle. But director Ingmar Bergman’s picture harbors no romanticized notions of circus life. His story sees a tired ringmaster and his mistress treat each other with shocking cruelty as each struggles to escape their lifestyle.

    The film walks a tonal tightrope, interweaving comedic artifice with a dark undercurrent of frustration and regret. With every joy, a disappointment. Behind every win, a compromise. The finale delivers a satisfying feeling of inevitability. I struggle to remember another film where I’m glad it didn’t go darker. Now, if only Bergman could stage a convincing fistfight.