Saturday, 23 February 2013

Walpurgis Night

Before Ingrid Bergman traversed to Hollywood to make loads of movies that people know her for nowadays, she starred in a few homegrown dramas that are nigh on impossible to see nowadays.  One of these was Valborgsm√§ssoafton or the more pronounceable Walpurgis Night to English speakers.  Devoid of easy categorisation, this 1935 B&W piece doesn't seem to want to pin itself down, with romance, drama, social politics, blackmail and murder all finding their way into the story.  Less interesting scenes of newsroom conversations (primarily about population growth, the diminishing role of love in relationships - all relevant subjects today) make up the backdrop of a story about a man (Lars Hanson) whose marriage is deteriorating, and his blooming affection for the secretary (Bergman).  She has decided that she loves him but is somewhat more determined to keep it a secret given the man's official marital status.  Her father (the editor in the aforementioned newsroom) latches on to what's going on and is not at all happy about, doing whatever he can to prevent a relationship developing.  The irony being that his daughter represents the very things he argues in favour of during the newsroom debates: someone who wants to build a relationship (subsequently producing a child) with the foundation of real love.  An uneven film, Valborgsm√§ssoafton covers many topics that are still valid.  Best aspect, Bergman is a pleasure to watch, and it's quite beautiful to see her speaking her native tongue.

Thankfully I taped this on BBC Television in the 90s during the only broadcast that I knew of, and have kept the tape to this day.  Fullscreen of course, as shot, it plays in Swedish with English subtitles.  It's a shame that Criterion, Eureka, of BFI don't unearth a few of these for Blu-ray, as I think they're just as significant as many of the French and Japanese films that often get put out.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Bring forth your thoughts...