Vargtimmen – Hour of the Wolf (1968) dir. Ingmar Bergman
A woman and her artist lover move to an isolated island where they plan to raise their family. The man goes crazy and the woman catches his insanity. They share horrific visions. Think perhaps The Shining, and with just as much foreshadowing.
Hour of the Wolf is described as Ingmar Bergman’s only horror film. Sadly, it is a (relative!) failure for the great director.
Hour of the Wolf is, like all Bergman’s films, a personal film of psychosexual symbols. Most of his films have a feeling of depth in them because of the oneiric balancing of meaning. They’re located on that precipice where we feel like we can almost understand them; where their riddle is just barely out of grasp. We have the same fascination for them as we do with a dream we’ve just woken up from.
The error most filmmakers make with these types of movies is over-explanation. The director is afraid the audience won’t get the allusion, and so makes things too blunt. The result is something that looks like pretentious pop psychology.
Bergman’s error here is just the opposite. He puts any hope of meaning too far out of reach. According to Frank Gado’s The Passion of Ingmar Bergman, there were several scenes shot that would have linked some of these visions one another, but Bergman left them on the cutting-room floor. What we’re left with is a couple creepy scenes and a lot of silly ones.
Hour of the Wolf is #755 on the TSPDT 1000 list I’m blogging through. I’ve now seen 402.