The Ritual

  • 1969
  • Movie
  • NR
  • Drama

A theatrical troupe, Les Riens (The Nothings), comprising Thulin, Ek, and Bjornstrand, is refused permission to perform a happening, "The Ritual," which has been called obscene. The local judge, Hell, attempts to extract from the three a description of the performance; they all aver that it must be seen rather than described. To discredit the troupe and...read more

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A theatrical troupe, Les Riens (The Nothings), comprising Thulin, Ek, and Bjornstrand, is refused permission to perform a happening, "The Ritual," which has been called obscene. The local judge, Hell, attempts to extract from the three a description of the performance; they all aver that

it must be seen rather than described. To discredit the troupe and lay the grounds for his assured censorship, Hell explores the actors' backgrounds, discovering their hedonistic personal life styles: the trio form a maison a trois, with hot-blooded Ek desperately trying to evoke a sensual

response from the beautiful, enigmatic Thulin, wife of icy, phlegmatic Bjornstrand, from whom--ironically--he seeks romantic advice. Physically enraptured by Thulin himself, the hypocritical Hell interviews her privately. She tells him of herself: she is, she reports, merely a restructured

creature, a product of plastic surgery and corrective dentistry, hardly an object of desire. Moreover, she is neurotic and epileptic. Hell's desire grows during Thulin's monotonous litany of self-abnegation; as she is taken with a seizure, he throws himself upon her and

attempts--unsuccessfully--to rape her. Later, the troupe performs the dreaded "Ritual" privately for the licentious judge. It proves to be a virtually classical Grecian masque, a stilted set piece with masked actors and enormous wooden phalluses. At the end of the brief performance, the judge is

discovered to have died of a heart attack. Bergman's often entertaining allegory deals rather brutally with the location of beauty--in the eye of the beholder--and the artist's answer to the query, "What does it mean?" It means what you think it means. Definitely not a film for everyone, this was

made for Swedish TV. Its explicit sexuality would have ruled out its TV exposure in the US, where it was released theatrically.

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  • Rating: NR
  • Review: A theatrical troupe, Les Riens (The Nothings), comprising Thulin, Ek, and Bjornstrand, is refused permission to perform a happening, "The Ritual," which has been called obscene. The local judge, Hell, attempts to extract from the three a description of the… (more)

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