In his feature directing debut, Daniel Bergman, son of legendary filmmaker Ingmar Bergman, takes an autobiographical screenplay by his father and transforms it into a haunting cinematic remembrance of a 1920s summer in rural Sweden. Displaying a lyrical, sometimes surreal, visual style,
young Bergman--perhaps not deliberately--has made a sequel of sorts to his father's FANNY AND ALEXANDER (1982) and Bille August's film of Ingmar Bergman's screenplay, BEST INTENTIONS (1992).
SUNDAY'S CHILDREN captures two memorable days in the life of an Ingmar Bergman surrogate figure, the eight-year-old Pu (Henrik Linnros), who is spending the summer of 1926 amid the pastoral charm of Sweden's Dalarna province. Pu is a sweet-natured child, inquisitive and sometimes wise beyond his
years. His father Henrik (Thommy Berggren) is a preacher whose placid exterior can quickly turn to rage, often directed at his wife Karin (Lena Endre). A silent, wide-eyed witness to his parents' marital discord, Pu experiences the fascinations of childhood, including the local legend of a doomed
watchmaker who can foretell the hour of one's death. Leaving the family summer house, with its Bergmanesque contingent of relatives, Pu accompanies Henrik to a neighborhood parish where the latter is to deliver a sermon. This bicycle-and-ferry excursion explores the relationship between the boy
and his father. It also provides the movie with a touching counterpoint to a parallel story, a flash-forward, if you will, to a 1968 meeting between a dying Henrik and the adult Pu, now Ingmar Bergman, filmmaker, who has come to view his father with a merciless detachment.
This picture benefits greatly from the participation of Ingmar Bergman, who, besides writing the script, helped his son scout locations. Still, it can stand on its own as a powerful work of art examining the nature of a father-son relationship. Berggren, perhaps best known for his work in Bo
Widerberg's ELVIRA MADIGAN, gives an effortlessly complex rendering of a religious spokesman adrift in the world and unable to articulate the simplest feelings. Young Linnros as Pu is a real find. With a remarkably expressive face, this non-professional actor exudes intelligence and feeling, yet
never oversteps into the precocious. Bergman surrounds these two with a phalanx of superb character actors who move through this memory landscape with authority and the occasional quirks reminiscent of families everywhere.
Inevitably, the direction of SUNDAY'S CHILDREN has been compared to the work of Ingmar Bergman, but the older Bergman's involvement defuses much of that criticism. The film is so steeped in Ingmar Bergman mythology (the spiritual and psychological conflicts, the sprawling family as a continual
mise-en-scene) that one can't always tell where his involvement leaves off and Daniel Bergman's begins. Certainly, young Bergman is a talent in his own right, having compiled extensive credits in the nuts-and-bolt world of Swedish filmmaking since 1976 when, at age 14, he worked in production on
his father's THE MAGIC FLUTE. In SUNDAY'S CHILDREN, he pays tribute to a master of modern cinema, while putting his own signature on the finished work. Ironically, he has also made a film in which the child who represents the young Ingmar Bergman mirrors the filmmaker struggling to find himself in
a world dominated by his father.
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- Released: 1994
- Rating: NR
- Review: In his feature directing debut, Daniel Bergman, son of legendary filmmaker Ingmar Bergman, takes an autobiographical screenplay by his father and transforms it into a haunting cinematic remembrance of a 1920s summer in rural Sweden. Displaying a lyrical, s… (more)