|In hyperanxiety, there is disintegration...
|written by wdrazo
||October 4, 2006 - 7:50 PM PDT
3 out of 3 members found this review helpful
|Originally called in some form "The Cannibals", Bergman softens the horror of this surreal story by having Alma (Liv Ullman), young and comely, as the soul center, the anchor in the sea of insanity. She tells us a story of herself to the interviewer, Bergman himself.
Here, a famous artist (a Vincent VanGogh doppelganger) and his wife arrive on a early summer trip on a remote Frisian island in the North Sea. There is a profile of a canine face as the boatman leaves the isle in the middle foreground. They push their belongings up the craggy hill to their placid farmhouse. Soon, he comes home from sketching the wyrde inhabitants of the island.
What can look on the surface as scheming and bored aristocrats out to get Johan Borg (Max Von Sydow) because of a scandalous affair with a wealthy and prominent woman, Veronica Vogler (the late Ingrid Thulin), or, alternately, a family so desperate for money that they plan to kill Johan so that his paintings go up in price, since they have a feted portrait of Veronica, can be something else entirely. You grasp for symbols everywhere, but do they mean something or anything?
However, the tale turns out to be an unfolding, waking dream of vampirish evil. Bergman telegraphs us that one character, Lindhorst, the Bird Man, is a Bela Lugosi stand-in. A provocative adolescent boy represents an sexual incubus. Now, with the child's bite, Borg is truly infected with the iniquity of self.
This movie owes a debt to the following or the newer films owe a debt to it:
Feillaud's The Vampires
The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari
Death in Venice
Bergman harkens back in this film to the selfish userers of Anton Strindberg and Max Ernst's terrors of human existence. Rent it with Fassbinder's The Year of 13 Moons. If I say anymore. . .