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"The Magician" featured almost the whole spectrum of Bergman regulars in key roles. The magician himself was played by the indomitable Max von Sydow, who reached a tally of eleven Bergman films. The grand finale of "The Magician" is one of his finest moments in a fabulous career as he wreaks havoc with the logical man of reason Dr. Vergerus, who is played by another Bergman regular, Gunnar Björnstrand. Ingrid Thulin’s here too as the magician’s wife, although she is dressed as a boy for most of the film.

At the time of filming, Bergman was married to Bibi Andersson, who plays the part of Sara in the film, and Bergman said the film reflected their busy life in the theatre in Malmö, above all the fact that they had very little contact with the city’s natives and remained outsiders stuck in their arty clique.

About the red herrings (all 1958): "Attack of the Puppet People" is an American horror film that I admit I haven’t seen, but I’d like to. "Gigi" was a hugely successful musical film (haven’t seen it, don’t want to), and "Vertigo" is considered to be Hitchcock’s masterpiece by many.

The first sequence takes place at the horse races, where the main character (Michel) steals some cash from a lady’s handbag. He leaves the races ecstatic after his first theft, but is pulled in by the police. They don’t charge him, but a perverse game of cat and mouse between Michel and the head police inspector begins. Towards the end of the film, Michel goes to the races with a punter he has met in a bar. The punter shows him his winnings, and although Michel smells a rat (he is sure the punter’s horse lost the race), he can’t resist slipping his hand in the man’s cash-filled pocket, where his wrist is handcuffed immediately. It was a set-up, and Michel ends up behind bars.

"Pickpocket" is loosely based on Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s novel "Crime and Punishment". Both the main characters commit a crime to see what it’s like as much as out of necessity, both want to admit their guilt to the authorities but are also terrorized by the consequences, and both achieve some kind of redemption thanks to a good woman. However, Bresson cleverly takes murder out of the equation, leaving simple theft, thus making the culprit’s superman theories and fear of punishment seem slightly ridiculous. Bresson’s Michel (played brilliantly by non-actor, or in Bressonian terms "actor-model", Martin LaSalle) isn’t struggling with morality, but bored with, and detached from society, so steals to feel alive again.

Beth Macauley was a recently widowed woman with two children. They were forced to move out of their home and get an apartment. The boys were not adjusting well to the death of their father and their new surroundings. Beth had to get a job and found one at a Gourmet Food Store run by Lisa Coleman. At first Beth was managing alright, but then she slipped into a depression and would not get out of bed. Jody, Chris Macauley’s much older girlfriend helped Beth to get back to where she was. Beth along with her sons and her new boyfriend and Chris’s girlfriend all formed a bond at the end of the movie. The feeling you got at the end was that everything was going to be alright.

Kathy played the Gourmet Food Store owner, Lisa Coleman. She was a strong woman and gave Beth a hard way to go at first. In one scene, Lisa asked Beth if she felt creative. Beth thought the task was going to be something to challenge her skills. It was simply stacking product in a large display. Beth quit, but came back later to get her job back. Lisa and Beth both talked and Beth discovered why Lisa was the way she was. The women had an understanding after that conversation. Jessica Lange starred as Beth and Joan Cusack starred as Jody. The film also featured Chris O’Donnell and Charlie Korsmo as Chris and Matt Macauley. The film was released in 1990.

It has been claimed that "The Virgin Spring" is connected to Bergman’s "Through A Glass Darkly", which came out a year later in 1961, and maybe even to another film as part of a trilogy, while others leave "The Virgin Spring" out of the trilogy and add another. However, Bergman himself said that the trilogy concept was "rationalization created after the fact". In fact Bergman contradicted many statements made about "The Virgin Spring" and even admitted that its religious undercurrents were to be taken with a pinch of salt.

What we can be sure of is that the film caused quite a stir. The depiction of rape is brutal and unsentimental, as is the revenge wreaked by the girl’s father (and mother). There is no forgiveness, no turning the other cheek, and no trial. It seems to me that these themes are what the film is about.

The story was based on various folk tales which have been regurgitated and reinterpreted over the years, and "The Virgin Spring" spawned a homage in the shape of Wes Craven’s equally disturbing "The Last House on the Left" in 1972, which in turn was remade in 2009.

Of course, it is the English who are behind the trumped up charges and although it is the Bishop of Beauvais and his cronies who conduct the trial, behind the scenes they are taking orders from the English military leaders. The English are speaking English, whereas the trial is in French. There is no such language as Belgian. The three official languages of Belgium are Dutch, French and German.

They get obsessed with the fact that Joan wears male attire since the other charges of witchcraft won’t stick. Joan doesn’t break until she is shown the stake where she will be burnt, and out of fear she gives in on condition that she is handed over to the church, not to the English. This promise is broken by the English as they want her burnt, and she is assaulted by a noble. Joan refuses to go back to wearing women’s clothes, so she is taken back to the stake and burnt as a heretic.

Bresson kept faithfully to the transcript of the actual trial for the screenplay and portrayed Joan as a woman who knew what she was about, and had fully grasped what was really going on rather than the naïve waif sometimes peddled by other filmmakers. It is filmed with typical Bresson sparseness and lack of sentimentality, and is enthralling from start to finish, even though you know what’s going to happen.

Annie answered the door to her home to find Sheriff Buster standing there. She let him in and he told her he was looking for Paul Sheldon. Annie went on about how she was his biggest fan and was saddened about the news of his disappearance. She told Buster she had set up a studio and was trying to write a book to help keep Paul’s legacy alive. Annie offered Buster some hot chocolate and, as she left the room, Buster went upstairs. He was looking for signs of Paul. Annie met him upstairs with the mug of cocoa. He thanked her and left as he was outside he heard a loud noise. Buster thought Annie had an accident and ran back into the house. He opened the basement door and saw Paul. Annie shot Buster with a shotgun.

Kathy was amazing in this movie; she truly deserved to win the Academy Award. I had read the book before I saw the movie and was not disappointed. She did justice to the role and in my opinion nailed it. The film was released in 1990. It was directed by Rob Reiner and starred James Caan as Paul.