Cries and Whispers: Love and Death | The Current | The Criterion Collection
Cries and Whispers is, primarily, a film of the red interior, of this Bergman worked on the screenplay from the end of March to the start as part of children's relations to them and as bound up in tender acts of love and care. Cries and Whispers Although the child died at age 3, the relationship between Anna and Agnes endure After At the end they embrace. Ingmar Bergman, Cries and Whispers, Viskningar och rop, to speak of “ enjoying” a film as gloomy as this one, but hang in for the ending. .. human beings—think of Persona, Scenes from a Marriage, Wild Strawberries, or this movie.
In his volume Images: For the viewer, it opens with achingly pure dawn images: The blood color coats the image with a startling, almost sickening bodily immediacy. This is the color we see behind our eyelids. Cries and Whispers is, primarily, a film of the red interior, of this abstract redness and the dream spaces it conjures, of the maternal womb, and of a literal red, soft-furnished room where women wait for a loved one to die.
Agnes Harriet Andersson has been gripped by illness for twelve years. The film attends to the last stages of her agony and to the days after her death. Close-up images of a dollhouse with miniature furniture and porcelain inhabitants, a further theatrical trope of female entrapment, recalling Ibsen, evoke with pathos the coldness and vacuity of the bourgeois family. The return home to sit at the deathbed brings with it reflections on childhood.
For Agnes, thoughts collect around her mother. She breathes in the scent of a pale rose, holding it pressed to her face, and the film cuts from its luminous cream petals to shots of her mother walking in sunshine in the gardens. Agnes recalls her mother retreating to the gardens and how, as a child, she would spy on her. The camera seems to adopt her hidden stance as we glimpse her mother walking in and out of pools of sunlight between the tended spruce trees.
Bergman said of himself: She was a very warm and a very cold woman.
When she was warm, I tried to come close to her. But she could be very cold and rejecting. Another flashback shows the child Agnes peering through lace as she observes her mother, a primal scene for the film: In Cries and Whispers, more than in any of his other films, the erotic is aligned most closely with the maternal, the two brought together in fullest flower.
In retrospect, beyond jealousy and love, the adult Agnes speaks of her sympathy for her mother in all her boredom and loneliness. Her search for maternal love, loving arms, accompaniment, is pressing throughout the film. Indeed, the film opens through Agnes its most stringent questions about being present for the other, about accompanying the living and the dying, about care and love.
It is in this film that Bergman confronts most directly, most movingly, questions of facing death that preoccupy so many of his films. Describing Cries and Whispers in Images, he writes: Agnes dies at the beginning of the drama. Yet she is not dead.
She is lying in the room, in her bed; she calls out to the others, the tears streaming down her cheeks. Take me, keep me warm!
At the end of a scene, the image dissolves into a red canvas, which gives it a surreal quality. It is a continual reminder of the central theme of death, as Agnes fights her battle with uterine cancer.
Norman Holland on Ingmar Bergman's Cries and Whispers
Sometimes Bergman freezes in the middle of the dissolve, holding on the blood red screen to give us time to ponder and process the meaning of the scene. These transitions and the slight deviations with each one heightens the impact of the color red. Please be warned that from here on our I will be delving into spoiler territory.
Harriet Andersson as Agnes gives the most memorable and challenging performance as she tries to cope with the pain and her imminent, unavoidable death. The anguish on her face is heartbreaking and convincing. Much of her performance is given in grunts and grimaces. She is at her most vocal at the very end of the film, but this is after she has passed and the pain has left her.
Only the loneliness and the yearning for comfort remains. She seeks solace from her two sisters, yet receives it only from her housemaid Anna Kari Sylwan in an unusual yet effective manner.
Cries and Whispers | Chicago Reader
The sisters, Maria Liv Ullmann and Karin Ingrid Thulin are complicated characters, at times polar opposite from each other, yet there is some grey or red?
To her sisters, Karin is stoic and stubborn, refusing and being repulsed by intimate contact.
Maria is affectionate and compassionate, yet she is unscrupulous, making out with the doctor watching over Agnes. In flashback we see Maria and the doctor having an affair, which results in her husband attempting suicide. Karin also flashes back, but her memory is of fidelity and mutilation. Is this why she is able to come back? This is never explained, but the ensuing revisitation with Anna and the sisters has differing results. Maria, who was affectionate to Agnes in life, rejects her in death.
Karin also rejects and hates her resurrected sister. Again, the only character that gives her any comfort is Anna, yet the living relatives treat her with scorn and dismiss her as if she was a piece of trash. The film can be interpreted a number of ways. It speaks to the intimacy or lack thereof of family, and how familial love and companionship is fleeting and unobtainable in later life and especially in death.
It speaks to the wickedness of the upper class, and how true camaraderie and goodness comes from those that are not clouded by a privileged upbringing.
It also says that personal relationships are ultimately rooted in selfishness. With their husbands and other sisters, the sisters care only for what they receive. The same is true about Agnes, who we learn little about, but she is also selfish for intimacy and companionship. The only true altruistic and benevolent character is Anna. She pledges to care for Agnes in life and in death with no financial recompense. At least Maria, who despite her flaws is the most considerate of the other primary characters, and gives Anna a little something to help.
Maybe there is hope for humanity yet. This project came about in winter on the island. It was melanchology time for him because he had just been broken up with someone. He was lonely with only a Dachshund to keep him company. He had an image of a room completely in red. He believes that if the image persists, you should keep writing. Harriet Andersson — Stockholm interview with Peter Cowie.
This was just like the interview on the Summer with Monika disc, and was probably recorded in the same session. Harriet was again very animated and descriptive. She is a great interview at an older age. It had been 10 years since she had worked with Ingmar.
At first she rejected the part because it was too difficult. The castle set was wonderful.