A young Ingmar Bergman’s stab at the Cold War spy thriller, This Can’t Happen Here (aka High Tension) has been virtually unseen for more than a half century. The film’s darkling atmosphere of espionage, and its on-location photography throughout Stockholm by the great Gunnar Fischer, makes it both a fascinating outlier in the filmmaker’s career and a strangely alluring collision of noir, propaganda, satire, and slapstick.
Throughout his life, Bergman dismissed This Can’t Happen Here as a naïve attempt at anti-communist allegory—he realized four days into shooting that the “lives and experiences” of the exiled Baltic actors playing the film’s refugees were far richer in cinematic possibility than the “unevenly developed intrigue” of the plot—and he refused to let it be included in retrospectives. Today, on the centenary of the filmmaker’s birth, we can judge This Can’t Happen Here for ourselves: Thanks to Svenska Filmindustri and the Bergman family, MoMA presents an exclusive theatrical run of the Swedish Film Institute’s new digital restoration.
Organized by Joshua Siegel, Curator, Department of Film.
Support for the exhibition is provided by the Annual Film Fund. Leadership support for the Annual Film Fund is provided by the Kate W. Cassidy Foundation and Steven Tisch, with major contributions from Jo Carole and Ronald S. Lauder, Association of Independent Commercial Producers (AICP), Yuval Brisker Charitable Foundation, The Brown Foundation, Inc., of Houston, Marlene Hess and James D. Zirin, Karen and Gary Winnick, and The Junior Associates of The Museum of Modern Art.