The Bergman Collection
The Devil's Eye (1960)

Starring: Jarl Kulle, Bibi Andersson and Stig Järrel
Tartan DVD
RRP: £19.99
Certificate: PG
Available 13 August 2007

Being a mote in Gods eye is likely to get you ignored, however if your virginity has caused a sty in the Devil's eye you just know he's going to come calling. But even the Devil cannot act personally so he selects Don Juan, who is being punished for his fornicating ways, to travel to earth to steal away the young girl's virginity. Problem is, he only has a single evening, one night and one morning to complete his task...

The Devil's Eye (Djavulens oga 1960) was directed and written by Ingmar Bergman. Although, on the face of it, the film has many of the themes which Bergman returned to again and again - the futility of love, the inevitability of duplicity and evil, as well as the creation of our own hell on earth - it is most probably one of his most accessible films. In a strange sort of way love even triumphs over evil, though not in the way that the audience would expect.

Structured as a comedic play, it is split into acts with Gunnar Bjornstrand setting the scene by introducing the various segments. We are first introduced to Don Juan (Jarl Kulle) as he is being tortured in hell by the suave Satan (Stig Jarrel). Destitute and despondent, tortured by dreams of an earthly paradise he cannot obtain. Neither he nor his manservant Pablo are able to carry out their mission without becoming tainted by the love they sought to corrupt.

Much of the tension of the film arises from Don Juan's attempted seduction of Britt-Marie (Bibi Andersson) and her encounter with Don Juan disabuses her of the notion that her love for her fiancé Jonas will protect her from anything. In the end, although he fails at his main mission, Britt-Marie lies to Jonas about kissing Don Juan, giving Hell its looked for victory and removing the sty from the Devil's eye.

The main cast give good solid performances, though a lot of the film is stolen by Nils Poppe who plays Britt-Marie's father, a vicar who traps a demon in his closet. The rest, such as Gertrude Fridth who plays Renata, the vicar's wife; Georg Funkquist and Gunner Sjoberg, do nothing which interferes with the overall ambience of the film.

The 4:3 print seems extremely clear and sharp, though there is no indication as to whether this is a restored print or just taken from a pristine original. Audio is mono Swedish with optional subtitles. The extras are lacklustre, being only trailers for two other Bergman films.

Charles Packer

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