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Directed by Bo Widerberg • 1967 • Sweden
Starring Pia Degermark, Thommy Berggren, Lennart Malmer
Bo Widerberg reached new heights of visual lyricism with this sublime retelling of a real-life nineteenth-century romantic tragedy. Bound by their all-consuming desire, a young circus tightrope walker (Pia Degermark, winner of the Cannes Best Actress prize) and a lieutenant (Tommy Berggren) with a wife and children forsake everything to be together and escape to the countryside—only to see their lovers’ idyll gradually give way to poverty and desperation. With its painterly, sun-dappled images and indelible use of Mozart’s Piano Concerto no. 21, this 1960s art-house sensation is the most ravishing expression of Widerberg’s recurring theme of the tension between individual freedom and social responsibility.