On a windswept, barren island, Andreas (Max Von Sydow) lives simply and quietly until he becomes entangled with Anna (Liv Ullmann), a beautiful, mysterious widow, and a neighbouring couple (Bibi Andersson, Erland Josephson) harbouring their own sorrows and illusions. Soon, secrets from Andreas and Anna's pasts threaten to shatter not only their desperate attempt at love...but their tenuous hold on reality as well.
Layers of Precision.
- The Passion of Anna review by NW
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You rated this film: 5
So there is another way of looking at Bergman. You can laugh!
All the best films are multi-layered. Here, you are indeed watching the torment of peoples’ souls - and the interestingly unusual interpolations of short interpretative observations by those playing the characters are far from as bizarre as the trick might sound. They help both to point the way and to allow you to step back from too deep an involvement in the misery. People are trapped in their situations, and their histories: so are we all. The truth of this is displayed with very sensitive precision. You can observe as well as participating … and then you may stand aside and enjoy the sight of all this almost caricature scandinavian angst. Take the short sequence where Max von Sydow tosses down several glasses of gin, bangs down the glass, rushes out into the snow, then, clutching a half empty gin bottle, rides off on a bicycle and collapses against a tree - until a neighbour rescues him and drags him home in a hand cart. He is then nuzzled by a sympathetic pekinese puppy. Serious stuff; you can feel the emotion and despair – YET, goodness; so mediaeval; so Swedish, so Bergman. No harm in laughing adversity in the face. Your own adversities and pains are standing at your shoulder; just laugh.
This is, in fact, a very fine film indeed. It is worth stopping the disc every now and then and studying it picture by picture: the placing of each smallest object may be unobtrusive, but is far from accidental and sets the sense and the mood with precise exactitude. That is why one says that Bergman is such an outstanding director.