Sunday, October 25, 2009

"Hour of the Wolf"

Remember Bergman movies? I saw nearly every one he made -- up to the year 1969 -- at my college film society. Like some French films, Bergman's sometimes relied on lots of heavy talk. If you didn't know Swedish, this could become boring, even silly -- actors moving their lips, making strange, incomprehensible sounds. But some of the images (by the great Sven Nykvist) are stamped on my brain. As is, for some reason, the tagline for American distribution of the film: "Vargtimmen: The Hour of the Wolf-- the hour between night and dawn. It is the hour when most people die. It is the hour when the sleepless are haunted by their deepest fear, when ghosts and demons are most powerful. It is the hour when most babies are born"

In 1968, when "Hour..." came out, Bergman was still shockingly transgressive to an American. The nudity in his films was matter of fact when U.S. films -- if they included it -- couldn't resist making it a big deal. What's more, the naked bodies were often frankly sexual, filmed directly without fancy cutting or swirling music -- as though sex was like any other act portrayed in the narrative. There was a similar frankness about subject matter -- adultery, war, illness, violence, madness, death -- as though these, too, were not -- as U.S. movies would have it -- exceptional, but, sufficient triggered, simply the way things are.

Ironically, what strikes me about the clip above is, not its transgressiveness, but the powerful theatricality of its transgressiveness.

Thanks to The Ingoing, where I stumbled across this clip.
Summary & information about Hour of the Wolf.
More about Ingmar Bergman.

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