Day 16: ‘Cries and Whispers’ 1972

‘Cries and Whispers’ 1972

Today, I took on another mighty Ingmar Bergman film, the sixth of his in seven days, the bleakest and most oppressive of those I have seen so far. But not depressing, enlightening. Not bitter, revealing. It exposes familial conflicts, where there should be love, and finds love where there would reasonably be expected to be nothing more than service, by a paid employee. Cruelty from family and compassion from a servant.

This journey into Ingmar Bergman is turning into a journey into darkness as well as into light. What is now self-evident about Bergman’s films is that they cannot be watched and absorbed like mainstream cinema. To view any of these films for the first time, is to experience only the thin skin on the surface, a veneer. It’s more than apparent now that multiple viewings are required of the great films to understand why they have earned their place in film history.

Mainstream cinema of the last fifty years has become like mainstream music, consumable in a single sitting, and while enjoyable to revisit, rarely do multiple viewings reveal additional layers which can be peeled away, exposing new insights. In Bergman there are hidden depths and multiple viewings reward the viewers for their efforts.

My most striking realisation is that great cinema, is a lot like great symphonies or great operas, or great music in general. It needs to be examined and studied to understand more of what their creators have actually created. In Classical Music, I think of Bartok or Stravinsky, in Opera I think of Benjamin Britten, in Popular Music I think of Roger Waters. And of course the same is true for the other art forms as well, whether it is re-reading Dickens for the third or fourth time or staring at Monet long enough to see more of the detail he’s infused his work with. Giving art your attention is rewarding and Ingmar Week has been a revelation.

This will be a week in review plus two new films:

Sunrise (1927)


Nosferatu (1922)

are on my horizon.