Monday, March 26, 2007

The Silence | Ingmar Bergman

Johan, The Silence | Ingemar Bergman

"The director also reveals that ..." I received an anonymous letter, containing filthy toilet paper; so one could say the treatment accorded to this film, which by today's standards was pretty innocuous, was rather fierce. There were even people who rang up and threatened both my own life and the life of my wife...So the sexual trauma in Sweden must have been acute. One is always glad when a film is a success. But then, when I discovered why it was a success, and how many of the people who were going to see it were saying furiously they'd never again go and see a Bergman film, I was terrified.'"

The Bergman retrospective at the beloved Charles Theater here in Baltimore showed the final film in a trilogy: Through A Glass Darkly, Winter Light and The Silence. This was the eighth week of Monday night Bergman films and I'm not handling it well.

The Silence was so deathly tedious, I almost tore my hair out after the first hour. I leaned over to A., my Bergman film companion and said, "I am dying!" In this film Bergman shows the audience his idea of how the world looks without god in it. The loneliness portrayed in the film is unbearable. The close ups and the unmoving camera each adds to this feeling of stillness and alienation.

Throw two sisters, one a scholar, dying of alcoholic deterioration, the other a hedonistic, whoring, thoughtless person (she will leave her sister alone to die), together with a lonely, unloved young son of one of the sisters, an approaching war outside the hotel windows, where the three have stopped, and things get pretty awful. Then all you have to do is add a troupe of midgets, which Bergman does, and my sense of dread arises from the depths of my psyche screaming.

Bergman thinks that people were critical of this film because of the taboos it broke around sexuality. I don't think so. It was the assault by silence, emptiness, inability to commuicate, and the excessive use of symbols that drove this viewer crazy. I can tell I am going to be stewing over this film for a couple of days, at least. Talk about your nihilism.

Next week...Persona.

No comments: