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Filmed on the island of Fårö, Bergman announces the minimalist movie with a flourish of self-referential artistic expression to set up the bizarre narrative that follows.
Sounds of its stage set being built, under the conversation of a film crew, give way to, "Camera."
Liv Ullmann speaks directly to the camera as Alma. She speaks of revelations she has discovered from reading her husband's diary.
Alma has given birth to a child on this lonely, desolate island. Her beloved artist husband Johan (Max von Sydow) has vanished.
Suicide perhaps. A victim of murder? We may never know.
The couple have come to the island for Johan to paint. Their love is strong, but ghosts from Johan's past haunt him. Johan's place in the world as an artist reveal subtexts of Ingmar Bergman's own self identity.
Johan is unable to find peaceful sleep in the couple's cold water cottage.
Dreams and nightmares blur with harsh reality.
Suspicion and regret hang in the air.
A dinner invitation by a coven of insulting aristocrats inhabiting a 14th century castle, leads to an explosion of social anxiety for Johan. Are the blue-bloods real, or merely composite figures from Johan's troubled imagination?
A quote from "Rosemary's Baby" springs to mind.
"Witches, all of them witches."
The subconscious and conscious minds of our lonely couple reveal cracks that all married couples experience.
Only we, the audience, can decide where the truth lies — that will take time.
Impeccably conceived and executed, "Hour of the Wolf" is an eloquent thing of cinematic perfection. Max von Sydow and Liv Ullmann provide stunning performances.
What is this nightmare called love?
Not Rated. 87 mins.