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Archive for November 20th, 2019

 © 2019 by James Clark

      Why do the films of Ingmar Bergman concentrate upon difficulties so few people care about? Some might rush to claim that his genius was all over the most pressing dilemmas of modern life. But although the works do touch upon well-known malaise, what, I think, he was driven to show has never been a serious concern for very many.

Though I recently claimed that all three of the films in the “Island Trilogy,” comprising, Hour of the Wolf, Shame, and The Passion of Anna, could appear with no damage being caused in released or viewing at any order, there is about the third entry, namely, The Passion of Anna (1969), which does go significantly even further into the savagery of cultural venom than the other two. There, Bergman’s dramatic depth finds a hitherto hidden dimension of perversity to imbue us with an added weight going forward. And as we unravel this difficult construction, let’s face the facts about how many viewers are apt to find it compelling; and, therefore, what comportment is valid for these few and besieged seers who do find it riveting.

Andreas Winkelman (“winkel,” denoting a “corner” or “being enclosed by woods”) is a protagonist who, when we first encounter him in the opening scene, we could say that his name is very suitable. He lives in a farm setting, with neither crops nor salient livestock. (A few sheep is all we glimpse.) A voice-over gives his name, and his age, 48. Also, we hear, “He has lived alone for a while in this house on an island out at sea. His roof has been in bad repair for a long time.” (The metaphorical involvement here should not be ignored, particularly as a matter of invasion is about to spring forth.) We find him on that roof, with slate and mortar, clearly not being a gifted roofer. His face is contorted; and then another demand brightens his day. The winter sky delivers to his unsteady perch a sun comprising the fireball, but also a complementary flare involving a small cloud of rose and grey hue. We never again see him appreciating such a mystical moment. But we’ll have myriad opportunities to understand that Andreas, though a middling construction worker, is a devotee of the uncanny—unlike the easily distracted musician couple in Shame and the painter in Hour of the Wolf. (more…)

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