Hour of the Wolf (Ingmar Bergman, 1968): Sweden

Reviewed by Paulina Soto. Viewed at Grauman’s Chinese Theatre, AFI Film Festival, Hollywood, CA.

Hour of the Wolf, or ‘Vargtimmen’ as it is called in Swedish, is living art gathered in a movie. Bergman is the biggest director in all time in the Swedish history. He has always amazed the audience with his different and unique style of storytelling.

In this movie we follow Alma (Liv Ullman) together with her tortured artist as a man, Johan, (Max von Sydow) to a desolate island. Johan immediately becomes haunted by uncomfortable nightmares from his past. He begin too lose control about reality and himself. One day they are invited to some odd neighbors castle-like house for a dinner. While they are there, weird things start to happen and this people gives us the creeps. We wonder if Johan totally has lost his mind or if this is really happening.

This movie is a surrealistic horror/science-fiction kind of drama. Bergman uses a lot of long takes and slow-going camera movements. Along with a original story and with a unique style of telling it, there’s also some strange dialogues going on, that soon begin to feel uncomfortable.  The deafening sounds and horror movie-like music is frightening, combined with detailed sound such as the ticking from a clock and other natural sounds. The cinematography is not too bad and the settings and backgrounds are very artistic. This movie is referred to one of Bergman’s darkest period and it’s also one of the strangest films made by him. There’s a lot of movies with almost the same story, one for example, is Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining. Even though Bergman’s masterpieces will never die out, neither will his work’s ceases to impress.

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