• Ingmar Bergman was not yet thirty (30) years old still when he made his third film, and first archiveable film: A Ship to India.
  • With so many of the great masters from Ford to Ozu to Bergman- their start was rather inauspicious. They almost get to be an apprentice on the job as they hone their art.
  • Even A Ship to India, which is far better than his debut Crisis, gets off to a slower start with miniatures Bergman users for the ships. They are horrendous—they are bad by 1917 standards.
  • Quickly after the opening though, there is a special silhouette shot of five sailors standing on the dock.

Bergman must have known what he had here because he takes this shot and he actually uses it during the opening credits for the film.

  • A voice over is introduced fifteen (15) minutes in. There is a flashback to seven (7) years prior- and it is a prolonged flashback. Birger Malmsten (frequent early collaborator with Bergman- he is in 1951’s Summer Interlude as well) plays Johannes Blom. Johannes is a former hunchback (for the long flashback) but seven years as a sailor has straightened out his spine.
  • Johannes has a ruthless, selfish, philandering father. His father eviscerates his wife (Johannes’ mother)- “I’ve been patient with you because I pity you”- think Gunnar Björnstrand’s Tomas lighting up Ingrid Thulin’s Marta in Winter Light. The father ends up going blind (some biblical roots in the storytelling there). Bergman shows his talent for composition with two heads in the frame here- strong foreground/background work.

The dramatic windmill set piece scene from the 51-57 mark with Johannes and Sally (Gertrud Fridh) is a standout sequence

The father and son love the same woman- Fridh playing a braless variety show performer. Even early Bergman’s frank approach to sexuality was in contrast to Hollywood during this era.

At the 54-minute mark in that scene there are a pair of diagonal sticks brilliantly obstructing the frame. Bergman then shows the two at a low angle as they fight in the windmill.

  • Bergman cuts to a silhouette off the ground of the father essentially trying to murder Johannes as Johannes dives in scuba gear.
  • In one sequence Bergman’s camera slides behind the wall like Ophuls or Renoir.
  • The father destroys his hideaway bachelor apartment like old Orson Welles as Charles Foster Kane—then there is a long take flashing light on his face as the police arrive.
  • Recommend but not in the top 10 of 1947