Bergman tribute: Never say ‘Can’t’

Director's son allows renounced film to screen

“This Can’t Happen Here,” the only Ingmar Bergman film to be renounced by the director himself, surfaced again recently — only to be sent immediately back to the vaults.

The 1950 film, also known by the title “High Tension,” is a Cold War thriller about Communists stalking the streets of Stockholm. It had been locked away for decades but got a rare screening at the recent Bergman celebration at the Swedish Film Institute thanks to a one-time-only permission granted by Bergman’s son Daniel.

Bergman, who died this past summer, said in interviews that he made the film early in his career, largely for financial reasons, and that he almost immediately regretted it.

The pic, which Bergman also shot in English for potential U.S. distribution, never opened in the U.S., but it did play in Denmark, Norway, West Germany and the U.K.

Since the 1950s, though, “This Can’t Happen Here” has been shown publicly only twice in Sweden. And the screening at the Film Institute might very well have been the last.

“Now it goes back to the vault,” Svensk Films’ Ann Kristin Westerberg says. “Bergman did not want it shown, and since we own the rights to the film, we will honor that wish.”

While the film has plenty of fans, Bergman did not agree. In the book “Bergman on Bergman,” the helmer says, “There is nothing that I like in it. I think it is disgusting. I have simply locked it out of my mind.”