Ingmar Bergman's Most Excellent Soap Commercials

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Everyone's gotta pay the rent, even famous Swedish film directors like Ingmar Bergman. In 1951, the country's film industry was in shambles and Bergman needed some cash, so he agreed to direct a series of nine commercials for the Swedish Unilever soap brand Bris. And lucky for us, fifty years later, some of these commercials have made their way to the YouTube.

Above, we see the commercial "3-D Tredimensionellt." A scantily clad woman strides onto the screen at a movie theater, whose patrons are obviously awaiting a 3D flic. Their faces show surprise. This particular 3D movie seems *so* realistic. As she begins to bathe (clothed, of course), she switches on the water and sprays the crowd. Hey! What's going on here? It's almost as if she's a real person.

One moviegoer makes eye contact with the camera. He's got a conspiratorial look. Maybe he's a bit randy, too. It's as if he knows exactly what's going to happen later in the commercial.

And then we cut back to the commercial, wherein the spokeswoman presumably says some nice things about Bris soap while sitting in a bathtub. She even holds out the soap for the man we've met before and he inhales deeply and sensually. "Ahhhh..." She bathes and shills some more (I think I catch her saying that the soap prohibits bacteria). Eventually the crowd claps for her. But as she attempts to walk off-screen, though, a tragedy befalls her! She slips on the soap and gets stuck in a flilckering, animated-gif-like pratfall loop.

Soon, though, we see that all is well. The soap lady has landed in the arms of the randy man. You see, this was no 3D movie; it was real life. Everyone was fooled! Except for the old dude that gets the girl, that is.

What a way to sell soap, no?!

One final note. At the end of the video, the word "SLUT" scrolls up the screen. This is not a commentary on the morals of the woman in the advertisement, but rather the Swedish version of "FIN" or "THE END."

Via Kurt Andersen

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Alexis C. Madrigal

Alexis Madrigal is the deputy editor of TheAtlantic.com, where he also oversees the Technology Channel. He's the author of Powering the Dream: The History and Promise of Green Technology. More

The New York Observer has called Madrigal "for all intents and purposes, the perfect modern reporter." He co-founded Longshot magazine, a high-speed media experiment that garnered attention from The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and the BBC. While at Wired.com, he built Wired Science into one of the most popular blogs in the world. The site was nominated for best magazine blog by the MPA and best science Web site in the 2009 Webby Awards. He also co-founded Haiti ReWired, a groundbreaking community dedicated to the discussion of technology, infrastructure, and the future of Haiti.

He's spoken at Stanford, CalTech, Berkeley, SXSW, E3, and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, and his writing was anthologized in Best Technology Writing 2010 (Yale University Press).

Madrigal is a visiting scholar at the University of California at Berkeley's Office for the History of Science and Technology. Born in Mexico City, he grew up in the exurbs north of Portland, Oregon, and now lives in Oakland.

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