{Of all lies, art is the least untrue - Flaubert}



Monday, May 18, 2015

Bergman's Hour of the Wolf


Hour of the Wolf is a film, which falls in the category where you can't decide anything from reviews whether they call it a minor effort or masterpiece if you don't see it yourself, its just too personal to let anyone decide for you (Fellini calls it Bergman's 8 1/2). Hour of the Wolf has the same mix of intense personal and critical thoughts (which are invariably brutally-honest in a Bergman film) about art, artist and his space, like those about God, faith and followers in Winter Light, only that it doesn't have that dour and austere look, its more visibly horrifying. But we don't know for sure, is it a horror film, or a surrealistic document about the existential dread, or about the inescapable trauma of an artist in trouble (about past-demons, creativity, sexuality, genius, madness ?) or about the swamp of an artist's relationships with his/her surroundings and the loved ones. The film changes shades as we view it from the eyes of Johan (Max von Sydow) or Alma (Liv Ullmann). Here is what Bergman has to say about about his film and why it is so, and as usual, he is little hard on himself.

[..] the whole picture is half-spoken sentences (the last unfinished dialog
here). It is ... an unsuccessful attempt. [..] She (Alma) is infected by him.
She is really an earth mother, but she becomes infected and will never return to
her former self. [...] The difficulty with the picture is that I couldn't make
up my mind who it was about. Had I made it from her point of view it would have
been very interesting. But, no, I made it the wrong way. After it was finished,
I tried to turn it over to her; we even reshot some scenes, but it was too late.
To see a man who is already mad become crazier is boring. What would have been
interesting would have been to see an absolutely sane woman go crazy because she
enters his world of unreality, and that infects her. Suddenly, she finds out
that she is lost. I understood this only when the picture was finished.

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