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Saturday, May 31, 2014

Viskningar Och Rop (aka Cries And Whispers) (1972)

In a late 19th century manor in Sweden, two sisters (Liv Ullmann, Ingrid Thulin) come to stay with their sister (Harriet Andersson) who is dying of cancer. The only other person in the house is a servant girl (Kari Sylwan) devoted to the dying woman. One of director Ingmar Bergman's more accessible works, CRIES AND WHISPERS is a dream piece bathed in blood red (literally in one startling scene). This is the one Bergman film where color is not only indispensable but mandatory in the narrative's structure. Beautifully shot by the great Sven Nykvist (who won the Oscar for his work here), Bergman lets us enter the women's psyche where we discover insincerity (Ullmann), loathing (Thulin), hope (Andersson) and faith (Sylwan). Of course, one can never fully plumb the depths of a Bergman film since Bergman is a quiz master who never gives us the answers but the framework of this film gives us clues that practically bite us on the nose. If there's a downside to the film, it's possibly that those "clues" are too obvious and sometimes the film can seem like a Freudian nightmare, Psychology 101. The acting is across the board excellent though Sylwan is hampered by an underwritten part. But this is still a potent piece of cinema, one of Bergman's finest. With Erland Josephson, Georg Arlin and Henning Moritzen.

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