Monday, 4 March 2013
Bergman made Hour of the Wolf and Shame in the same year, and even cast two of his favourite actors, viz. Max von Sydow and Liv Ullmann, in the lead roles for both; yet the two films couldn’t be any more different from one another – be it tonally, stylistically or thematically. In fact this powerful indictment against the tragedy or futility of war was possibly the Swedish Master’s sole venture in this particular genre of cinema. Jan (Sydow) and Eva (Ullmann) are simple folks and a happily married couple. But there are certain strong differences between the two in terms of their personalities, natures and attitudes, and they become not stark and reach irreconcilable proportions when they suddenly find themselves in the middle of a rampaging war. Bergman didn’t take any ideological sides in terms of the opposing political forces; rather, his intent here was to strip war to its essentially primordial nature, and portray how it brings out the primitive beasts within us otherwise cloaked in the veneer of civility. Jan’s devastating transformation when survival instinct kicks in, and Eva’s realization of that, which, at a subconscious level, she was probably always aware of, made for a disconcerting, heart-wrenching and psychologically arresting watch. Both Sydow, in another stand-in for the auteur, and the ethereal Ullmann gave fabulous, deeply layered performances; Gunnar Bjornstrand, too, was good in his brief but important role as a mild-natured war criminal. Shot in elegant black-and-whites, the otherwise simplicity of its narrative style, the directness of content and the profundity of its theme made this one of his most accessible films, but a memorable one nonetheless.
Director: Ingmar Bergman
Genre: Drama/War Drama/Psychological Drama/Marriage Drama