Bergman’s Cries and Whispers
Ingmar Bergman was seven years old when he received a gift that fascinated him: a miniature puppet theatre and a “magic lamp” for screening “live images”. Who would have thought that twenty years later this small curious Nordic boy would become the author of the feature film Crisis (1945), in which he announced his permanent obsession with the psychological drama genre. It did not take long for Bergman to develop a long-lived focus on women as partners in life as well as women as dominant heroines of his numerous films. His obsession with capturing the psychologically fragile and layered female world and exploring its intimate (and sometimes whimsical) features, led him to create many likeable, playful and humorous, as well as provocative films such as: Waiting Women, Summer with Monika, A Lesson in Love, Dreams, Smiles of a Summer Night.
The rest of his fruitful opus (characterized by the author’s recognizable poetics) engages in philosophically fundamental questions of human existence, the meaning of life, our origins, our relationship to love, faith and death, the loss of the power of communication and complete misunderstanding between people, and God’s silence. He also explored the border between reality and illusion.
Inclined towards fantasy, Bergman viewed the burdened psychological and psychopathological conditions of his heroes through “an alternative state of mind” characterized by hallucinations, phantasmagoric scenes, nightmares, schizophrenia, anxiety, claustrophobia, repression, apathy, animal aggression, sexual frustration, muteness…In his film Hour of the Wolf “the hero experiences reality as an expressionistic nightmare”.
However, in the midst of dramatic orgies of deeply disturbing scenes, there emerges the undefeated spirit of play and even play in play.
Bergman admits: “In fact, all my films are a visualization of my dreams, they provide a vent for the tension that emerges during the process of searching for the meaning of human existence.”
The most suggestive part of his opus was created in an unyielding, feverish tempo - as if it were one film divided into several episodes - that testify to the author’s gradual loss of faith in a world that is about to sink into complete desperation and silence: Sunset of a Clown, The Seventh Seal, Wild Strawberries, The Virgin Spring, Through a Glass Darkly, Winter Light, The Silence, Persona, Cries and Whispers, Autumn Sonata.
One of his recognizable stylistic traits is his deeply intimate close-ups. His cinematographer Svena Niqvist’s camera, as if it were some kind of highly sensitive seismological instrument, reads the barely noticeable flickers of tired souls and thundering bursts of fury from Bergamn’s unhappy heroines’ faces. (Petar Krelja)