Magician, The; Face, The

2553. THE MAGICIAN (The Face) (1958-Sweden). With MAX von SYDOW, INGRID THULIN, GUNNAR BJORNSTRAND, BIBI ANDERSSON. Directed by INGMAR BERGMAN. This simple and haunting Bergman masterpiece is set in 19th century Sweden and opens with a carriage entering a forest after sundown. In it are the various members of “Vogler’s Magnetic Health Theater.” Leading the group is Dr. Albert Emanuel Vogler (starkly played by Bergman favorite Max von Sydow), a mute who professes to have magical powers. Vogler and his entourage arrive at an inn, where the local authorities await them. First, they are interrogated. Then, Vogler is accused of being a charlatan who only is masquerading as a doctor. Compelling evidence is offered in this regard. Exactly who is Albert Emanuel Vogler? Is he indeed a faker? Does he really have mystical powers? Or does the truth lie somewhere in between? Vogler is ordered to give a “performance” the following morning. What follows is an eventful night in which secrets are revealed and passions come forth. As the sun rises, further surprises are in store for all concerned. As the scenario plays itself out, many of Bergman’s most typical cinematic themes are explored: illusion versus reality; pretense versus truth; scientific fact versus religious faith; the manner in which individuals disguise themselves and mask their true natures; and God’s silence in the face of human folly. Bergman’s use of close-ups of Vogler and silhouettes that are posed against a stark and bare sky remain unmaiched in their visual power. In Swedish with English subtitles. 99 minutes. Drama