Discuss DVDs and Blu-rays released by Criterion and the films on them. If it's got a spine number, it's in here. Threads may contain spoilers.
- Joined: Fri Mar 04, 2005 4:22 am
- Location: NYC
It really is a judgment call IMHO. The Bergman restorations have been uniformly great and I have no reason to believe that the change in color timing was revisionism. If they dropped the ball on one or two films while getting dozens of other right, that seems plausible too, but I don't know enough to say.therewillbeblus wrote: ↑Tue Nov 24, 2020 4:07 pmThat's a good point hearthesilence, I didn't own Cries and Whispers beforehand (and never really cared for it much...) but recall the same muted reds being a cause for concern on Autumn Sonata, so that makes sense
Edit: Wow, I just re-checked the Beaver caps for CaW and I'd def hang onto your copy. I kinda wanna pick up the previous version individually just have a disc on hand with the colors popping as I remember, even though I don't love the film!
FWIW, Michael Atkinson wrote this in The Village Voice (R.I.P.) about the previous Criterion BD in 2015 - the headline was "Bergman’s ‘Cries and Whispers’ Is a Blu-ray Revelation":
"...the  Criterion Blu-ray of Cries and Whispers (1972) — a necessary HD thing, given the film’s unarguable reputation as one of the most appallingly beautiful color films ever photographed — makes it all seem new again. To be honest, this has never been my Bergman go-to, after I saw it as an undergrad in an all-Bergman-every-Monday-morning class, amid fourteen other films, from Summer Interlude (1951) to From the Life of the Marionettes (1980). After you carved through Wild Strawberries, Winter Light, Through a Glass Darkly, The Silence, and Persona, in a semester that tempted everyone’s latent suicidal impulses, Cries and Whispers just seemed like a brash, Eastmancolor retread of established tropes, with a little labia-cutting thrown in for shock value.
"But I was wrong, and the blazing new 2K restoration — versus the battered 16mm print I saw in college — is a large reason why I now know it. Seen in this impeccable, prismatic form, it is clearly one of those totemic films that come at you with the conviction of a holy vision — except, of course, the experience is not sacred at all, but psychosexual. All it is: Three sisters (Liv Ullmann, Ingrid Thulin, Harriet Andersson), one case of cancer, two sets of tortured sexual pathology, one grieving servant, sequestered in an estate house sometime in the late 1800s."
Still, it's very possible he would have responded to the new BD in the same way, but AFAIK, he hasn't compared the two or at least written about it.
- Joined: Tue Dec 22, 2015 3:40 pm
I revisited this tonight, and it remains one of my personal favorite Bergmans. I think the English-translation title is quite apt though, because while Andreas is the 'lead' character, he doesn't have enthusiasm for life. His depression has given way to apathy, and even though she's far from "happy," Anna is supremely passionate (take that early dinner speech about how we should always strive for our spiritual ideal, only do what we deeply believe in, settling for nothing but absolute authenticity). The passion of Anna is a desire for truth, as Ullman explains in her interview, and even though it's unsustainable within her sterile milieu, it is an honest expression (ironically competing with self-delusion) that directly clashes with Andreas' apathy. Both characters can't navigate their surroundings with contentment, but one expresses unyieldingly while the other hides from the opportunities to express, perhaps both out of overwhelming shame.Rayon Vert wrote: ↑Sun Apr 02, 2017 3:36 pmA Passion (The Passion of Anna). (The accurate translation is A Passion – and the exploitative American title The Passion of Anna doesn’t even make sense, as this is really about Andreas more than any other single character.) I really like this one, even if it feels a little thrown together without perhaps the same level of accomplishment as the previous films in the Fârö quadrilogy.
Certainly this is Bergman at his most despairing – there’s literally no glimmer of hope here. (In a 1971 article about Bunuel, Truffaut situated Bunuel between Renoir and Bergman of the previous 10 years on the optimism/pessimism scale – i.e. Bunuel finds that people are imbeciles but life is nevertheless amusing – and memorably remarked that Bergman “doesn’t help us live”. That's definitely true of this film.)
The seemingly arbitrary abuse of animals presents the world as uncaring and even cruel in its metaphysical essence (yes there’s someone slaughtering and torturing the animals – but there’s also that scene of a bird hitting the window and Andreas killing it). And Andreas is really like one of those tortured creatures – he’s so completely isolated and psychologically vulnerable. As he reveals to Anna in the end, he’s completely “humiliated” - he literally has no self-esteem or positive sense of self. From the beginning he’s desperate to latch on to anyone, with predictably disastrous results. I noticed for the first time that when at the end he grabs the wheel of the car that Anna’s driving and causes a near accident, one of the quick cuts is to a mirror ornament, a teddy bear twisting and being “strangled” by the string around its neck, that links to the earlier twisting and strangled dog in the film (which, painfully, to me anyway, Andreas eventually gives away to Eva - that dog that gives him all that free affection - in the desperate hope that somehow this will win him some female favor).
But despite being so dire, there’s something about the atmosphere of this film, the desolate and wintry environment in which it’s filmed, as well as how touching Andreas is, that I find really appealing. I don’t know what to make of the actor interviews, they’re part of Bergman’s meta experiments in the latter half of that decade, but they’re few enough to not distract from the film’s power.
One could see 'the passion of Anna' as Andreas' higher power, her allure magnetizing him away from his cave, becoming his God that briefly lifts him from his spell and entices him with hope through her presence disrupting his self-destructive slumber. "Hope" in this film isn't optimism but a provocation to shake one from complacency toward further observation of what exists outside of our solipsistic mental quicksand. Bergman makes this process out to be the rigorous challenge that it is- the act of making oneself vulnerable begetting further turmoil, like opening a wound without a bandage to see what happens when it breathes. Each character sees a mirage of refuge from their character defects in the other- Anna can see a man who is able to compromise as she manically stresses over her continual letdowns, but in a very anti-romantic fashion, neither's polar quality is actually attractive or capable of providing the other with balance in corporeal terms. This is Bergman occupying a unique space of realist quasi-spirituality whereby we find existential promise in viewing another human being's qualities without being able to puncture or possess the qualities themselves.
So even if the 'passion of Anna' is Andreas' God, we must assume that he has a complicated relationship- not exactly positive- with any higher power, in order to retreat as strongly as he has. Bergman's own relationship with God is there, but it's not based on an interventionist God (hence: the animal killer heightening an apatheist illogical atmosphere), and so the idea of familiar people as Gods that trigger us just as much as they offer brief reprieves from unbearable existences fits as they lift the bar slightly but don't grant a solution.
At one point, Bibi Andersson says that realizing that 'she' is completely meaningless has destroyed her, that trauma from failing to become an active agent in the unsupportive environment that conquers such attempts. Bergman seems to understand that feeling, but doesn't endorse that a person is completely meaningless when in the presence of others- sharing, noticing, and believing in something greater than them and their problems. Andreas gives her his dog, all he has that bring him happiness, to help her sleep. Their connection is brewed from mutual misery, and yet that consolation from commonality is sublime in its own language- much like her recanting of how the death of her child brought her and her husband closer together for a fleeting moment. This may not be an upbeat movie, but there's something very liberating about that offer for 'a way out', even if it's impermanent and doesn't alter the dysphoria.
I think the "actor interviews" are pretty clearly placed there as a narrative device, to overstate the characters' psychologies for us so that we can pay attention to the 'expressions'. Max von Sydow's early diagnostic speech tells us more than we need to know, and so we spend the rest of the film knowing exactly what we'd otherwise spend an hour musing over, and in the process likely miss the specific sensitivities and minute character developments within these superficially established pathologies. Who these characters are isn't the point of the film, but how they respond to others to make digestible strains of meaning for themselves very much is.. grappling with risky social poison as an antidote to the dependably lethal poison of solitude.
This may be Bergman's most mature work, a film that refuses to pretend that we can reach a state of meeting life on life's terms and truly connecting in any permanent way, but when setting the bar at 'accepting that we cannot accept life as-is, on occasion', well, in those invisible crevices and faraway gestures, we can find pockets of grace. Anna's final words are the passion that lights the small fire in this wintry world before it goes out: that of asking for forgiveness. It's not a false embodiment of static self-actualization or a promise of happiness, but a tangible request for rehabilitation to show another human being that they are seen, and a gesture to give all that is in her power to authentically give: Another chance to take a ride, to accrue more rapport and more harm, or go it alone. That's the game.
Bergman doesn't blame the characters for behaving as they do though or for choosing their own needs in the end, and that's where the real empathy lies. He's an understanding God, but like the characters and his understanding of his own God, he won't intervene either. He has too much respect for the pain. And that's what this film really is: a ball of emotion flailing around with its head cut off; a tortured animal trying to get a few last breaths, and looking at those breaths with equal parts celebration and horror.