Couldn't work up an actual review for this one, eh? Aside from Serpent's Egg, this is my least favorite Bergman film. It was a good enough idea, the animal killer and all, but felt lazy and derivative. There's a Max Von Sydow character struggling to find meaning in a hostile environment (Seventh Seal, Shame), Liv Ullmann and Bibi Andersson suffering on a remote island (Persona), not to mention Von Sydow and Ullman living together and tempted by strangers led by Erland Josephson (Hour of the Wolf). Even worse is the appalling device of the actors interrupting the film by commenting on their roles. I realize Bergman was going deconstructive in all sorts of ways around this time. (Liv Ullman narrating Hour of the Wolf, for instance, worked well.) But this technique is the equivalent of a DVD commentary.For me, Passion of Anna is the lemon of the "Faro Island" series, and one of only two Bergman films that actually left me nonplussed.
I've actually been doing a lot of reading and writing lately (not only for this blog!) and it's been somewhat exhausting. I have a pile-up of Bergman films in my brain right now in anticipation of this post at the beginning of September too, so it's hard to really focus on one. It certainly helped that I find this film completely expressive on a non-verbal level, and very difficult to write about. Anyway, nonplussed!? Really? I agree that the narrative content is not entirely original among Bergman's oeuvre (then again, did he ever really make a new story?), and the mock interviews aren't very well developed within the context of the film, but I hold this one in pretty high regard because of its transfixing aesthetics. I think it's among Bergman's most gorgeous films, and I love the almost free-associative nature of it. It feels extremely confessional, and wears its heart on its sleeve. Not to mention that ending, one of the most haunting endings in cinema. Word don't do this film justice! It's all there on the screen!
I wonder how I'd feel if I'd watched all the '60s films backwards, starting with this one ('69). As it was, going from the faith-chamber pieces, to Persona, then to my ultra-faves from '68 (Shame and Hour of the Wolf)... well, Passion of Anna was measured against this board of high excellence. I promise to give it another try.
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