Cries and Whispers, , Ingmar Bergman | Criterion Close-Up
Here's the odd thing: in Persona, Cries and Whispers, and those few Toward the end of his life, Bergman sometimes felt he was too old or too. Why is the ending screen, which reads "Sa tystnar Viskningarna och I'd like to elaborate a bit on the lesbian angle of Cries and Whispers, one of the Over the years, her relationship with Agnes developed and evolved into. Cries and Whispers is a Swedish period drama film written and directed by Ingmar Bergman and starring Harriet Andersson, Kari Sylwan, Ingrid Thulin and Liv Ullmann. The film, set in a mansion at the end of the 19th century, is about three sisters . Bergman and Ullmann were in a romantic relationship, and their daughter.
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As does Ingmar Bergman. Bergman, whose heyday stretched from the mids to the mids, but who made a film as recently as Sarabandis renowned as a staggeringly gifted auteur given to directing uncompromisingly depressing motion pictures in which God's existence is brazenly challenged and the notion that life has any meaning is ceaselessly questioned, and oftentimes ridiculed.
This is a reasonably accurate representation of his overall worldview, particularly in the mid-career films that define him as an artist, but the emphasis on God and life's ultimate meaning is somewhat misplaced. The 16 motion pictures he made before achieving international fame with The Seventh Seal in do not deal with God at all, and this is also generally true of the films he has made in the 35 years since Cries and Whispers was released. The central theme of the movies that bookend his career, and at least a secondary theme of his mid-career films about God, man's place in the universe and the meaning of life, is that human existence is hell on earth, not because of supernatural forces who are either malicious or indifferent, but because of the cruelty men and women routinely inflict upon one another, usually in marriage.
This is the theme of his early movies, including the ones featuring the cuddly-wuddly puppy and the self-incinerating oven; it is true of his classic films The Virgin Spring, The Magician, Through a Glass Darkly and Winter Light; it is true of his gorgeous, hysterically pretentious Cries and Whispers, true of his ambitious television series Scenes From a Marriage, and equally true of his over-the-hill clunkers From the Life of the Marionettes, Autumn Sonata, After the Rehearsal and Saraband.
It is even true of his comedies - yes, Ingmar Bergman made several lighthearted comedies Smiles of a Summer Night, The Devil's Eye and one out-and-out knee-slapper - All These Women, which was also his first colour film.
No one who ever ventured behind a camera has adopted a more unapologetically bleak view of the relationship between men and women than Ingmar Bergman. With a handful of exceptions The Seventh Seal, The Serpent's Egg where the director goes in somewhat different directions, Bergman's movies break down into three broad groups: Not terribly surprisingly, Bergman's first movie as an actor is entitled Torment.
Six weeks ago, I did not know all this. Six weeks ago, if asked, I too would have identified Bergman most intimately with his dark, mid-career, meaning-of-life classics, the ones that have so often been imitated and so often parodied.
Bergman, like Richard Wagner, is easy to satirise and even ridicule because he provides such a big target.
But, as with Wagner, the target is the host, the satirists merely parasites. The grand total came to 38 films, including a couple of made-for-TV projects and his recording of a performance of Mozart's Magic Flute. Thirty of these films are available in a new box set from Tartan Video; omitted, presumably for copyright reasons, are The Magic Flute, his classic lates trilogy set on the island of Faro Hour of the Wolf, Shame, The Passion of Annaone or two obscure early pictures, his last major work Fanny and Alexanderwhich won the Academy Award as best foreign film though it was boiled down from a six-hour television series and two laughable duds: Touch, starring the ludicrously miscast Elliot Gould, and The Serpent's Egg, starring the even more ludicrously miscast David Carradine.
Though overloaded with formative works that have not become immortal, the box set provides a fairly comprehensive view of Bergman's career, though the omission of the Faro trilogy is regrettable. These are, after all, the films in which Von Sydow was cast opposite Liv Ullmann, and Von Sydow and Ullmann are the actors whose names have become synonymous with "Bergman". The collection also comes with a very informative booklet Bergman: A Life in Films by David Parkinson.
I watched the films in rigorous chronological order over the course of six weeks, and my emotional and aesthetic response to them followed a predictable arc, tracing the same general trajectory as Bergman's career. The early movies, about 15 of them, are visually striking black-and-white melodramas that often show promise, but equally often seem to be rehashes of earlier projects. The first is Torment, which deals with a young woman being driven insane by an obsessive middle-aged man, a theme that will recur throughout his career, including his swan song Saraband, where a domineering year-old father ensnares his year-old daughter in a suffocating relationship that verges on incest.
These are the work of a young man who has not yet developed a discernible directorial identity, whose movies look a lot better than they sound. They are mostly filmed by Gunnar Fischer, who would continue to work with Bergman until the more celebrated Sven Nykvist took over in The Virgin Spring. According to the guide that accompanies the box set, Fischer was absent because he was shooting a Disney film in the Arctic. Almost all of these films are about unhappy young men and women, some of whom die in paraffin oven explosions, others when they fall on their heads while diving off a cliff to impress a now doomed girlfriend, others when they take their own lives.
Several of the characters will have abortions they subsequently regret or give birth to children who might have been preferred unborn, but virtually all of the characters have plighted their troth to Mr, Mrs or Ms Wrong. One notable exception is the dog's best friend from Music in Darkness; he actually corrals the girl of his dreams in the end, though not before getting his lights punched out by her disapproving beau.
Though never as unrelentingly bleak as Cries and Whispers or The Silence, none of these films are what anyone would call peppy. From the time he made Summer With Monika, the film that introduced the peerless Harriet Andersson 18 at the time, exactly half the age of her lover and mentor, the twice-married Ingmar Bergmanright up until when he made Scenes From a Marriage, Bergman would churn out a steady stream of thoughtful, nuanced, profoundly serious, cinematically overpowering films that, even when they failed to meet their objectives, exerted a mesmerising effect on the audience.
These are the motion pictures that created the Bergman legend. They are, by turns, mysterious, introspective, experimental, strange.
Not a single one is negligible, nor does the film lover ever get the feeling that the director is phoning it in. These are the motion pictures that have filled art-house cinemas from Helsinki to San Francisco for the past five decades, the works that gave meaning to the term "foreign film".
And definitely not starring Robin Williams". Then, abruptly, Bergman's creativity dried up.Cries and Whispers (Viskningar och rop) - Breaking Down Bergman - Episode #33
From onward, he would make an unbroken series of repetitive, self-indulgent films that ceaselessly exhumed the same old themes of marital discord, disappointment in one's parents, remorse over abortions or aborted love affairs, and a general sense of hopelessness in a world where there is very little meaning and even less good sex. But in none of them does Bergman have anything to say that he did not express far more eloquently 30, 40 or 50 years earlier.
Almost all of these late films are in colour, and, however provocative the lighting and wardrobe choices, they lack the haunting quality of his great black-and-white movies of the 50s and 60s. Just as LPs sound warmer and fuller than CDs, black-and-white movies are more riveting and emotionally affecting than colour ones. Though a couple of the later works undeniably pass muster in the narrow critical sense, not one film after Scenes from a Marriage needed to be made.
This was just like the interview on the Summer with Monika disc, and was probably recorded in the same session. Harriet was again very animated and descriptive. She is a great interview at an older age.
It had been 10 years since she had worked with Ingmar. At first she rejected the part because it was too difficult. The castle set was wonderful. They had offices downstairs. The red rooms were the studio on the main floor.
The floor above was for make-up and wardrobe. Ingmar had said the red room resembled the inside of the womb. They kept her awake at night and that made her look tired. The death scenes were an imitation of her father, which she witnessed.
He had a terrible death. She has trouble watching the film now because of that memory. On-set Footage Silent color footage with audio commentary from Peter Cowie.
This is the highlight of the disc. They have quite a bit of silent behind the scenes footage that includes the set-up, press conference, actresses on location in and out of the house, the cast and crew being fed, editing of the film, rehearsals, and so forth.
It is a wealth of material and Cowie gives numerous factoids on the film just by talking over the images. This was almost as satisfying as a good audio commentary.
They talk a great deal about the playwright Strindberg. He had spent summers at the manor that they used as a boy and took inspiration of Miss Julie from lady of the manor.
Bergman had adapted Strindberg plays for stage, but never for film. This is another enjoyable interview. They do not talk about the films so much as they do personal lives, loves, relationships, and various other topics.
Bergman is surprisingly candid. They talk about children. They both have quite a few Bergman has nine. None of his children were planned. Women in his early films lived in harmony with each other and had more-complete lives; Bergman used the women in Cries and Whispers and his later films as "projections of his soul", revealing his "sexual vanity".
Cries and Whispers -
Karin's repression and Maria's sexuality. According to Rueschmann, her daughters assume or reject her position and harm themselves in the process. Obviously such an obsession implies ambivalence; it has something compulsive about it. Although Agnes' apparent resurrection may reflect Anna's fear or desireEmma Wilson wrote that it blurred the line between life and dream and might involve supernatural activity. Death is the ultimate loneliness; that is what is so important.
Agnes's death has been caught up halfway out into the void. I can't see that there's anything odd about that.
Yes, by Christ there is!
This situation has never been known, either in reality or at the movies. If the artistic, doomed Agnes matches Orpheus as well as Bergman, Agnes' mother may correspond to Eurydice representing "the green world".