Cries and Whispers
Directed by Ingmar Bergman
HOME, 21 February 2018
This is a film in which women suffer.
It is cool and composed, painterly even, throughout. The colours that dominate are white and red, female flesh and the blood beneath it. Not pretty and pink, not in Bergman’s world. In perhaps the most horrific scene in cinema, we see one sister (there are three) place a shard of glass deep between her legs and gouge herself terribly. Difficult to watch, this, because you sense a while before that a terrible thing is about to happen, but are unsure what exactly. She has done something rash previously (take a look at the response of the maid when she sees the fragment of the shattered wine glass) and does so, apparently, to spite her cold and comfortable husband.
Later, another sister dies, and we see her wheezing and gasping for breath, for prolonged moments convulsed with pain while the others looking on helplessly, unable to abate her distress. After, a priest appears and addresses a fine sermon to the fresh corpse.
Then there is the sly adulteress who leaves misery and misfortune in her wake. On one clement evening, whilst she dallies and distracts the doctor tending to her maid’s daughter, the girl dies.
It is a brutal and bloody film, difficult to watch even now, bereft of any kind of consolation.
If you ever doubt that art can devastate, watch this potent ditty. Well done, Ingmar Bergman.