Browse all reviews by letter     A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z 0 - 9

Sweden 1966
Directed by
Ingmar Bergman
81 minutes
Rated PG

Reviewed by
Bernard Hemingway
3.5 stars


Liv Ullman plays Elisabet Vogler, a famous actress suffering from a psychosomatic speech loss in what is effectively a two-hander with Bibi Andersson, who plays her much younger nurse (Andersson was in fact the older but she carries off the role convincingly). One of the director's best-known film if only through its frequent lampooning, fans of Bergman's style of fear and loathing will love this story of psychological vampirism which is evidently influenced by Jung (who gets a nod in the name of Andersson's Sister Alma, the alma being Jung's name for the inner self) and will want to compare it to Bergman’s The Magician (1958) in which the central character, this time played by Max Von Sydow, is also called Vogler.

Although in the annals of films dealing with ego-boundary breakdown I prefer more realistic and dramatically convincing, albeit conventional examples, particularly Joseph Losey's The Servant and Nicolas Roeg and Donald Cammell's Performance, Bergman, with help of his cinematographer, Sven Nykvyst, makes effectiveuse of purely filmic means to suggest the  women's relationship, using lighting, mise-en-scène and various technical devices such as superimposition to suggest their emotional and psychological morphing.

The film is less effective when Bergman attempts more realistic means to get his ideas across, such as having Sister Alma read from improbably turgid tests on psycho-philosophy, has Elisabet Vogler pen chatty letters or has her blind (?) husbandn who remarkably cannot tell the sound of his wife's voice, turn up.

Bergman also throws in some self-referential bits about film-making and photographic representation (he originally wanted to call the film Cinematography but under pressure from the producers changed it to the Greek word for "mask") and introductory section reminiscent of L'Age D'Or. The significance of this is unclear however the outcome is paradigmatic 60s art cinema.

FYI: Ullman and Bergman's 12 year relationship began with this film.




Want something different?

random vintage best worst