2023-06-22 07:58Press release

The Rite: Ingmar Bergman's little-seen drama to screen in Bologna

Ingrid Thulin in The Rite. Photo © AB Svensk FilmindustriIngrid Thulin in The Rite. Photo © AB Svensk Filmindustri

Ingmar Bergman's The Rite, digitally restored by the Swedish Film Institute, has been selected for the Recovered and Restored section at the world's foremost archive film festival Il Cinema Ritrovato in Bologna, which opens on June 24.

The Rite (1969; also known as The Ritual) is one of Ingmar Bergman's lesser-known films. In a stark and purified form, Bergman returns to questions and images he always circled around: The exaltation and humiliation of the artist, the rebellion against the father, the images of God. A society which is at once the artist's audience and enemy.

The plot: A judge questions three actors about their new production, which is considered obscene. Their relations are complex: Sebastian is an unstable drunkard, in debt and guilty of killing his former business partner. He is involved with Thea. She is tense and fragile, prone to outbursts of rage, and is married to Sebastian's new partner, Hans.

The film starred Ingrid Thulin, Gunnar Björnstrand, Anders Ek, Erik Hell and Bergman himself, who makes an an appearance as a priest dressed in black. The costumes, daring and remarkable for their time, were designed by Mago (aka Max Goldstein), who was also the production designer. Bergman's long-time collaborator Sven Nykvist was the director of photography.

The director talks about the genesis of the film in Bergman on Bergman

"There's always so much pretentiousness surrounding films. So much apparatus. Shooting takes forty-five days, fifty days, sixty-five days. For Fellini it takes twenty-eight weeks and there's a hell of a hullaballoo and it costs God knows how much. So I thought: Hell, I'll gather four of my close friends and we'll rehearse for four weeks and then we'll shoot it. I figured out I'd be able to shoot it in nine days."

The Rite will be screened on 27 June with an introduction by Kajsa Hedström of the Swedish Film Institute and Stig Björkman, director, author and Bergman expert.

ll Cinema Ritrovato runs between 24 June and 2 July.

Further reading: Notes on the film by Jan Holmberg, CEO of the Ingmar Bergman Foundation.

Promoted Classics from the Swedish Film Institute

The Rite has been digitally restored by the Swedish Film Institute. Under the Promoted Classics label we now feature 192 titles, all digitally restored with English subtitles and available for screenings internationally. See the full list here: Promoted Classics

For further questions please contact Kajsa Hedström, Project Manager at the Film Heritage division: kajsa.hedstrom@sfi.se

About The Swedish Film Institute

The Swedish Film Institute is a collective voice for film in Sweden, and a meeting-place for experiences and insights that elevate film on all levels. We preserve and make available Sweden’s film heritage, work to educate children and young people in film and moving images, support the production, distribution and screening of valuable film, and represent Swedish film internationally. A broad diversity of narratives establishes discussions and insights that strengthen the individual and our democracy. Together, we enable more people to create, experience and be enriched by film.


Jan Göransson
Head of Press
Jan Göransson
Per Perstrand
Communications Officer – Press
Per Perstrand