Hour of the Wolf

Painter Johan Borg (Max von Sydow) and his wife (Liv Ullmann) are living on a small island; he’s had a crisis and suffers from nightmares that begin to have a physical presence in their lives… Regarded sometimes as part of a trilogy consisting of Shame and The Passion of Anna, this oddly fascinating drama that takes on the shape of a horror movie makes us question what is real or not. Do the strange people Johan and Alma share dinner with at a castle exist or are they merely manifestations of the demons who visit him at night? The answers don’t matter as much as the experience; Ingmar Bergman and Sven Nykvist create an unpleasant, dreamlike atmosphere.

1968-Sweden. 90 min. B/W. Produced by Lars-Owe Carlberg. Written and directed by Ingmar Bergman. Cinematography: Sven Nykvist. Cast: Max von Sydow (Johan Borg), Liv Ullmann (Alma Borg), Ingrid Thulin (Veronica Vogler), Georg Rydeberg, Erland Josephson, Gertrud Fridh… Naima Wifstrand, Gudrun Brost, Mona Seilitz.

Trivia: Original title: Vargtimmen.

Last word: “As far as I recall, it’s a question of the total dissolution of all notions of an other-worldly salvation. During those years this was going on in me all the time and being replaced by a sense of the holiness – to put it clumsily – to be found in man himself. The only holiness which really exists. A holiness wholly of this world. And I suppose that’s what the final sequence tries to express. The notion of love as the only thinkable form of holiness.” (Bergman, interview with Torsten Manns)

 

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