RSS Feed

Musik i mörker (Jan. 17, 1948)

After Ingmar Bergman’s last movie, Skepp till India land (A Ship to India) (1947), I was expecting more of the dismal same from this one.

Skepp till India land is a bleak, claustrophobic tale of a miserable family, so when I sat down to watch Musik i mörker (Music in Darkness), which is about a blind musician, I was prepared for something even glummer.

Surprisingly, Musik i mörker is a romantic and even sometimes whimsical film. Birger Malmsten, who played the bitter, hunchbacked son in Skepp till India land, here plays a sweeter, more likable character.

Musik i mörker is based on the novel by Dagmar Edqvist, and she and Bergman collaborated on the screenplay. Malmsten plays Bengt Vyldeke, a young musician who is blinded during his military training (when he attempts to save a little dog that runs out onto a firing range, of all things).

Bergman visually represents Bengt’s initial shock and the blindness that results from his accident in a bizarre dream sequence, shown in the still below:

That’s about as extravagant as Bergman gets in Musik i mörker, but the entire film is pleasingly shot. The lighting is especially good, and beautifully complements the fresh-faced beauty of Mai Zetterling.

Zetterling plays Ingrid, a lower-class servant girl who works for Bengt’s family. She cares for him after he loses his sight, but he is caught in a spiral of self-pity, and eventually he offends her deeply enough to drive her away.

In his second autobiography, Images: My Life in Film (1990), Bergman wrote of making Musik i mörker, “My only memory of the filming is that I kept thinking: Make sure there are no tedious parts. Keep it entertaining. That was my only ambition.”

I think he succeeded. The events of the film are small and intimate, but they move along at a nice clip. Bengt takes a job playing piano in a saloon, he’s cheated by someone he trusts, and he tries to make Ingrid a part of his life again. Meanwhile, Ingrid develops a relationship with a young intellectual named Ebbe (Bengt Eklund) and resists Bengt’s advances when he reenters her life.

Musik i mörker still shows Bergman developing as a director. It’s not a towering cinematic achievement like some of his later films, but it’s a satisfying picture full of gentle romance and bittersweet moments.

4 responses »

  1. A quote from Wikipedia on Musik i Morker:

    The theme of blindness and of a blind person’s subjective experience plays a major role in the psychological study depicted in the movie. Bergman was deeply passionate about music and once said,[3] “If I had to choose between losing my eyes or ears—I would keep my ears. I can’t imagine anything more terrible than to have my music taken away from me.”

    I googled this movie because I had never heard of it (or any others that Bergman made as early as the 40s) and questioned its existence. Normally I would trust every single word written about any movie in this excellent blog. But a little earlier, I had been taken in by an NPR segment about the discovery that Beethoven had written a 10th symphony. Alan Gilbert, conductor of the NY Phil, was so convincing! If I’d been listening more carefully, there were plenty of clues, but even when he played parts on the piano and I muttered something to myself about how he must have composed it in Kindergarten, it still hadn’t dawned on me that today is April 1st.

    • That’s funny. It never occurred to me to do an April Fool’s Day post. In fairness, I did publish this yesterday, March 31st, so it wouldn’t quite qualify.

      I’m playing catch-up with 1948, so hopefully I’ll have another review written today. The next movie on my list is John Huston’s little-seen remake of “Reefer Madness” (1936).

      It’s called “Teatime in the Sierra Madre” and stars Robert Mitchum and Louis Armstrong as a couple of treasure hunters who keep misplacing their bags of gold dust.

      • I checked the classic films collection in my local library for Musik i Morker, which they don’t have, and also for Teatime in the Sierra Madre which they do. It sounds great! I’ll check it out tomorrow.

  2. Pingback: The 10 Best Films of 1948 | OCD Viewer

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: