Tuesday, July 5, 2022

Before Bill & Ted's adventure, there was 'De Düva'

De Düva (aka "The Dove") (1968)
Starring: George Coe, Pamela Durell, Sidney Davis, Madeline Khan, Peter Turgeon, and David Zirlin
Directors: George Coe and Anthony Lover
Rating: Seven of Ten Stars

In the twilight of his life, a brilliant scientist (Coe) returns to region of his youth and remembers the time he met Death (Davis).

Sid Davis as Death in "De Duve"

"De Düva" is a hilarious 14-minute short film that pokes fun of the more idiosyncratic hallmarks of Ingmar Bergman's films from the 1950s and 1960s, with "The Seventh Seal" and "Wild Strawberries" being the most obvious targets of the spoof. A highlight of the film is one of the one the earliest lampoons on Bergman's famous Death character and his love of games; it's almost as goofy as what would appear in "Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure" some 20 years later. 

Film students and lovers of "art films" and "foreign films" will get a kick out of every moment of "De Düva". Even the blurry, worn quality of the film is there to make you smile, as it isn't the result of a copy or a copy or a worn copy, but rather originally made to look like that. The film even makes fun of how many older "lesser" films reach us lovers of cinema, even now in the age of digitization.

The cinematography and acting styles are perfect send-ups of Bergman, with the very emphatic deliveries of all lines greatly adding to the comedy. Even the subtitles have jokes, including what appears to be a mistranslation that casts the relationship of the main characters (young lovers played by George Coe and Pamela Durrell) in a very disturbing light. Although, given some of the themes in Bergman films, perhaps I am hoping that's an intended joke...

One of the things I found to be the most hilarious in the film is the language it was made in. Most of Bergman's films were made in Swedish, and, coming to this one not knowing what to expect other than a spoof, I figured it would be in Swedish, given the title. It is NOT in Swedish, however. I don't know whether you have to be a polyglot to find the made-up language spoken by the actors hilarious, but I was laughing out loud at a lot of it. (Spoiler alert: All dialogue in the film is delivered in a made-up language that kinda-sorta sounds like a cross between English and Swedish but is actually neither. It is then subtitled in English, mostly accurately.)

As the title of the embedded video below states, "De Düva" was in the running for a "Best Short Film" Academy award in 1968. That, plus the fact it marks the first film appearance by Madeline Khan and the first leading role by George Coe, makes it worth watching for those with an interest in film history. I think everyone else  will enjoy it as a goofy spoof of what film snobs find entertaining.


Stumbling across this little gem in the distant corners of YouTube reminded me that I've had Bergman's "Hour of the Wolf" (1968) in my To Watch pile for several years now. I need to get around to watching and reviewing it!

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