Riten (The Rite) (1969)

Original Title : Riten
Director : Ingmar Bergman
Writer : Ingmar Bergman
Genre : Drama
Country : Sweden
Language : Swedish
Producer : Lars-Owe Carlberg
Photography : Sven Nykvist
Distributor : Janus Films [us]
IMDB ID : 0064897
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poster for "Riten (The Rite)" by Ingmar Bergman (1969)
Riten (The Rite) (1969) - Ingmar Bergman


Ingmar Bergman Priest
Gunnar Björnstrand Hans Winkelmann
Gunnar Björnstrand Hans Winkelmann


A judge in an unnamed country interviews three actors, together and singly, provoking them while investigating a pornographic performance for which they may face a fine. Their relationships are complicated: Sebastian, volatile, a heavy drinker, in debt, guilty of killing his former partner, is having an affair with that man's wife. She is Thea, high strung, prone to fits, and seemingly fragile, currently married to Sebastian's new partner, Hans. Hans is the troupe leader, wealthy, self-contained, growing tired. The judge plays on the trio's insecurities, but when they finally, in a private session with him, perform the masque called The Rite, they may have their revenge


Must-see for any Bergman fan Made for television during what is probably Bergman's most innovative period, around the same time as Persona, Shame, A Passion, and Cries and Whispers. Three actors, played by Bergman regulars Gunnar Bjornstrand, Anders Ek, and Ingrid Thulin, are brought up on an obscenities charge in an unnamed European country. A judge (Erik Hell) interviews them over a period of several days, first all together, and then each one separately. We also see scenes of the actors outside of these interviews interacting in pairs (never all three together). There is also a scene in which the judge visits a priest, in a re-enactment of a certain scene from The Seventh Seal, the one where Antonius Block confesses his chess strategy to death. Here, Bergman himself plays the priest/death (in the interview book Bergman on Bergman, he jokingly brags that he got paid extra for having a speaking part in the film). The film as a whole is difficult, as are the other films around this period. But it is an amazing film when taken scene for scene. It's a showcase for these amazing actors. Thulin, Bjornstrand, and Ek are amazing as these absolutely deranged characters. Ek plays the most arrogant person in the world, and he has a little problem with pyromania. Thulin, who is married to Bjornstrand but sleeps exclusively with Ek, has some serious mental problems (and a wig that makes her look like Anna Karina from Vivre sa vie). Her neuroses make Woody Allen seem relatively calm. Bjornstrand is a desperate character who wants to get away from his wife and her lover (also his best friend), but he's not sure if he can live without her. The Rite is actually quite graphic. There are a few very erotic scenes, and Thulin was never more desirable. In one scene, Ek asks Bjornstrand how he can bring Thulin to orgasm, and the description made me blush, of all people. The film would probably have been rated X in the United States. Needless to say, it would never appear on television! When it was originally broadcast, Bergman had a disclaimer placed before it telling everyone that they might want to read or go to the movies instead of watch The Rite! 9/10.
poster for "Riten (The Rite)"
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Riten (The Rite) (1969) - Ingmar Bergman