Friday, September 3, 2010
The Hour of the Wolf
Max von Sydow plays an artist who arrives with his pregnant wife, played by Liv Ulmann, to settle in an isolated cottage on a hillock by the seaside. The story is about his inner demons and his descent towards insanity. The line between fantasy and the real is thin and you can decide for yourself, and is of no importance. These include the homicide of a boy, an attempt on the life of his wife, memories of being locked up as a child, and the ridicule poured on Sir Artist by his neighbors.
The film, which surely has autobiographical elements, deals with the theme which runs throughout Bergman's movies--the anxieties of living without faith. Without hope, consolation and an ordering principle of life, the mind, left to it's own resources of intellect, emotion and instinct, must veer on dizzy trajectories, at the mercy of demons of one's own creation. Bergman is an artist, a painter of the tempestuous sea that is the inner world of human beings. He sees no lighthouse--man is but a weed who happens to be helplessly afloat, tossed by the waves of fear, hate and desire.
The film is a hard watch even at it's modest duration. It lacks the focus and simplicity of Persona. Maybe too much has been crammed into it. We have had enough dose of Freudian nightmares by way of films. I am unlikely to give it the second viewing which it probably deserves. But maybe I will--a half digested would be masterpiece does not lodge comfortably in the mind.