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Germany/USA 1977
Directed by
Ingmar Bergman
120 minutes
Rated M

Reviewed by
Bernard Hemingway
2.5 stars

The Serpent's Egg

Fin-de-siecle decadence was a popular subject during the 1970s, particularly for European directors. Here Bergman, who was living in Munich as a tax exile, has a stab at it with a story set in Berlin during the Weimar years.

Funded by American money with Dino De Laurentis producing, shot in English and starring David Carradine as an out-of-work trapeze artist caught up in the madness of the times, it is a rather shapeless concatenation of familiar scenes and images from similar films of the period (think Cabaret but without the songs). Bergman, whose reputation is dependent upon his small scale films with regular cast of theatre actors, is well out of his comfort zone with the scale of production (the entire film was shot on a purpose-built set) and two of his regulars, Liv Ullman and cinematographer Sven Nykvist, are largely wasted.

Anyone expecting Bergman's characteristic psychological hermeticism will be sorely disappointed but even considered as a stand alone film The Serpent's Egg suffers from Carradine's lack of charisma and an overall lack of narrative purpose (Bergman also wrote the script), ending up as at best a rather Boschean portrait of humankind at the brink of Hell

DVD Extras: Audio Commentary by David Carradine; two featurettes about the film, Away From Home; and German Expressionism; a photo gallery and the original theatrical trailer.

The film is available as part of a handsome 5 DVD box set in Shock's Distinction Series. Other films included are The Hour Of the Wolf, The Passion Of Anna; and Skammen whilst the 5th DVD has a suite of feature length documentaries about the director and his work.

Available from: Shock Entertainment




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