Hour of the wolf

DVD - 2004 | Swedish | Special ed
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A brooding artist accompanied by his wife travels to a remote island where he hopes to escape his demons.
Publisher: Santa Monica, Calif. : MGM Home Entertainment, [2004]
Edition: Special ed
ISBN: 9780792861003
Branch Call Number: DVD ADULT
Characteristics: 1 videodisc (93 min.) : sd., b&w ; 4 3/4 in


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Jan 27, 2015

Bergman mixes the tragic with the diabolical in this story of an introverted artist slowly going insane who eventually disappears without leaving a trace. Johan and Alma spend most of their time on an isolated island where he works on his paintings while she plays the adoring wife. However, despite the idyllic setting, his mental state begins to deteriorate; he paints visions of grotesque creatures he claims to have seen and he is visited by various enigmatic characters, both seductive and frightening, real and imagined, including a callous muse in the guise of a former lover. Even a friendly dinner at a local dignitary’s estate becomes a painful ordeal when the party turns into a vulgar display of bourgeois excess expertly filmed with extreme close-ups, spinning camerawork and overlapping dialogue. But are these experiences real or are they being filtered through Johan’s increasingly fractured mind? Eventually his strained relationship with Alma comes to an explosive end thanks to the mysterious gift of a loaded pistol, and Johan returns to the baron’s a house of horrors whose winding hallways and monstrous inhabitants become a metaphor for his own diseased psyche. Told in flashbacks using Alma’s recollections and Johan’s own diary, the story plays with our sense of reality. From the opening credits which include sounds of the film’s cast and crew preparing the day’s shoot, to the movie’s “demons” which are as solidly real as the island itself, the line between truth and illusion is never delineated. Even Alma begins to see Johan’s ghosts, as if her love for him has also left her susceptible to his psychosis. The use of light and shadow is striking, especially those scenes shot in the dead of night, the “hour of the wolf” in which most people die, most babies are born, and nightmares run rampant. Bergman has crafted an incisive look at the lonely suffering of the creative mind filled with cryptic imagery and a pervasive sense of dread. We are left to wonder whether Johan was stalked by his madness, or did he in fact court it. “The mirror has been shattered...” he declares at one point, “...but what do the splinters reflect?” Indeed.

Jul 05, 2014

I do not recommend this.

Sep 28, 2013

Max von Sydow falls prey to his demons despite the naively offered love and protection of Liv Ullman. horror by Bergman - no wild strawberries here. (unfortunately the dvd cover being shown currently on the bibliocommons website is for a Charlie Chan movie rather than Hour of the Wolf)


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