Vargtimmen (1968)

VARGTIMMEN (1968)
aka Hour of the Wolf
Article 3879 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 3-19-2012
Posting Date: 3-28-2012
Directed by Ingmar Bergman
Featuring Max von Sydow, Liv Ullmann, Gertrud Fridh
Country: Sweden
What it is: A descent into madness

An artist, tortured by memories and unable to sleep at nights, shares his darkest memories with his wife. He is invited to a party by the owner of the island… but what do the owner and his friends intend for him?… and are they even real?

Many Bergman films have touches of horror to them; I’ve had the chance to cover several of them already. However, this is the one that is usually thought of as his horror film, and, given some of the events and imagery during the final half of the movie, I’d say that’s fairly accurate, though it’s certainly not one that can be easily parsed out. It most reminds me of REPULSION and THE TENANT, and both Max von Sydow and Liv Ullmann are excellent as the artist and his wife who has loved him so long that she has begun to see the ghosts that haunt him. Some of the imagery and events are truly haunting; there’s a shocking encounter with a young boy on a cliff side, and a nightmarish sequence where a woman finally removes her hat. It’s not Bergman at his very best; for one thing, it does take a little too long before things get moving. But even with that in mind, it’s fascinating. The script is apparently a scaled-down, reworked version of an earlier one called THE CANNIBALS, which Bergman abandoned because he thought it would have been too expensive and involved to make; however, I would love to have seen that one.

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