Borderlands (Zev Berman, 2007): 6.5/10

The Magic Flute (Ingmar Bergman, 1975): 7/10

La Guerre Est Finie (Alain Resnais, 1966): 7/10

Speed Racer (The Wachowski Brothers, 2008): 8/10

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Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Hour of the Wolf (Ingmar Bergman, 1968)

The other film I've seen lately that's left me unsettled was directed by, of all people, Ingmar Bergman. After Persona, Bergman kept going with his creepy portraits of people's inner lives with Hour of the Wolf, the story of artist Johan (Max von Sydow) and his wife Alma (the always fantastic Liv Ullmann) who live in a secluded house on a virtually empty island. The film starts with Bergman stating this is a true story, written from Johan's diaries and talking to Alma; it also starts with a stunningly beautiful scene of Ullmann (who was pregnant with Bergman's child at the time) talking straight to the camera.

In that way, it's a typical Bergman film for the first half: people talking about their thoughts, their fears, their infidelities, with the small exception that all the talking takes place late at night, as Johan is terrified of the dark and refuses to sleep before dawn. Two stories of Johan's are particularly important: one, told through Johan's narration only, about the time when he was a child he was locked in a closet as a punishment by his father, and the other, acted out, an encounter he had with a young boy on some cliffs overlooking the water. Bergman's decision about what to show the audience and what they only hear is really brilliant, and keeps you intrigued about this complicated, troubled man.

But the second half goes off the deep end when Johan and Alma are invited by the only other residents of the island to a dinner party at their castle. Johan's inner demons are released, and the results are hallucinatory, intense, and scary.

Leave it to Bergman to make a highly intelligent, visual horror film. Some of the images really stick with you, and the ending is both open-ended and gives you a sense of closure, somehow. With every film I see, I really believe that Bergman is one of the greatest masters ever; even in one of his "lesser" films, there's so much to take in.

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Comments on "Hour of the Wolf (Ingmar Bergman, 1968)"


Blogger math said ... (7:49 PM) : 

Movie is terrific. Remember watching it for a class and finding out during subsequent discussion that I was nearly the only one who liked it. Your post makes me wanna go back and see it again, thanks!


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