Viskningar och rop (Cries and Whispers)

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Written on 6:30 PM by Hemanth Kumar


Title: Viskningar och rop (Cries and Whispers)
Language: Swedish
Year of Release: 1972
Director: Ingmar Bergman
Actors: Harriet Andersson, Kari Sylwan, Ingrid Thulin, Liv Ullmann
Awards: Academy Award for Best Cinematography, and the film was also nominated for Best Costume Design, Best Director, and Best Writing, Story and Screenplay Based on Factual Material or Material Not Previously Published or Produced. Unusually for a foreign language film, it was also nominated for Best Picture, not for Best Foreign Language Film


Ingmar Bergman's movies have something special about them....more or less, his stories deal with relationships especially among those who are in a family. This 1972 flick, Cries and Whispers is one such story.

This is the story of Karin and Maria who come over to look after their sister Anges along with the loyal maid, Anna. Anges is taken ill and she is not expected to survive for long...and as the story progresses, mysterious and often sad relationships are unravelled among the members of the family. Marie cheats on her husband and has an affair with their family doctor David. Karin is having a very unhappy marriage and Anges suffers from her perrenial illness. After sometime Anges dies and Maria and Karin who were not in talking terms with each other try to mend their relationship. Finally both the families decide that everything in the mansion would be sold and they would settle down in the nearby city.

What's so striking about this movie is the it's use of silence throughout the story. All you hear is a silence which is momentarily shattered by the cries of agony, of pain. Also each one's life is full of secrets. The film is also about inter-sibling rivalry. In what is told as a series of events using the stream of consciousness technique, we come to know how each one had distanced themselves from the other.
In one of the scenes the focus is on what one of the sisters, Karin thinks about her childhood. Karin says, "Mother and Maria always had many things to whisper about, but then they were so alike. Jealously I used to wonder what they were laughing at together. Everyone was in gay spirits, I was the only one who couldn't join in the merriment," continuing, "Yet I could not help feeling sorry for her... and now that I'm older, I understand her much better. I wish I could see her again...to tell her what I understand... of her boredom, her impatience...her longing and her loneliness." Beautiful lines to understand what's going through someone's mind!

Also towards the climax of the movie, we come to know about Karin's hatred towards Marie all these years and her agony and pain that nobody has touched her in years....in between all this is the character of Anna, who wants to serve her beloved Anges and she does care about her like her mother.... we see there's hope left in Anges when she's alive...always dreaming of the days when they were happy and dreaming that, that day would come again. To sum it up all about what Anges thinks about, she quotes, " Come what may, this is happiness…here for a moment. I can experience perfection.”

What makes me so impatient about this movie is it's use of long gaps of silence...something which can be very demanding. Also, the use of the colour Crimson Red for the majority of the scenes has a great spiritual meaning to it, to some level it denotes the situation of the house where a person is about to die....no wonder it is rated among the Top 100 Spiritual movies of all time.....All credit to the director for extracting some excellent performances, his ability to carry forward a story with so few characters and depict such complex relationships. A beautiful work of art by Bergman...something which I won't forget for quite sometime.

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