Short Reflections from the Silver Screen: Port of Call


Port of Call

Sweden. 1948. Ingmar Bergman.

Bergman gives an unflinching depiction of a hard-hearted world with industrial backdrops, misspent youths and two-dimensional characters. One of these characters is Berit, a young girl, stuck in the pitiless turmoil of her past. She struggles to confide in others due to her overtly anxious remembrance of this past and is therefore burdened to having relationships due to her introverted self. Berit is a convincing character and underneath her neuroticism she shows signs of a dear heart, a heart to share with Gosta, a new sailor in town who seeks to settle down. However, it is not easy for Gosta either, he develops commitment issues and is susceptible to bursts of emotional vigor.

There are hints of Bergman traits in this early piece of work as he tries to solve a catch-22 with sensitive souls, liberal politics and compelling actresses. Bergman’s affinity for working with actresses is clearly evident. There is also the occasional trick of the camera; a first-person address directly with the audience amidst pressing scenes for example, works as a chilling manoeuvre. The cinematography is likewise appropriate to capturing the psychic battle (mirrors and agile dolly shots) and marks Bergman’s first collaboration with Gunnar Fischer who would go on to shoot such notorious films as The Seventh Seal and Wild Strawberries.


*All reflections are from my film journal.


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