Two estranged sisters, Ester and Anna, and Anna's 10-year-old son travel to the Central European country on the verge of war. Ester becomes seriously ill and the three of them move into a hotel in a small town called Timoka.
In the midst of a civil war, former violinists Jan and Eva Rosenberg, who have a tempestuous marriage, run a farm on a rural island. In spite of their best efforts to escape their homeland, the war impinges on every aspect of their lives.
In turn-of-the-century Sweden, cancer-stricken, dying Agnes is visited in her isolated rural mansion by her sisters Karin and Maria. As Agnes' condition deteriorates and pain management becomes increasingly more difficult, fear and revulsion grip the sisters, who seem incapable of empathy, and Agnes' only comfort and solace comes from her maid Anna. As the end draws closer, long repressed feelings of grudging resentment and mistrust cause jealousy, selfishness, and bitterness between the siblings to surface. Written by
Ingmar Bergman explained the use of the color red in this film: "'Cries and Whispers' is an exploration of the soul, and ever since childhood, I have imagined the soul to be a damp membrane in varying shades of red." See more »
The funeral was tolerable. No one wept or grew hysterical.
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The Sounds Of Cries And Whispers Or A Study In Red
The idea of this film that is considered by many as Bergman's crown achievement came to him in his house at Faro where he lived by himself for sometime in a melancholy state of mind after a rather painful breakup. One image kept coming to him and it was a very vivid and persistent image of a red room (red walls, red furniture) and four women sitting at the window in the room and dressed by the fashion of the beginning of the 20th century. He could not shake the image out of his mind and he knew that the only way to deal with it would be to start writing about the women who were they, what was their relationship, their lives, their fates?.. He also knew that should the movie be made of his writing, the dominating color of it would be red. Bergman talked with affection and gratitude about his friend and long time collaborator Swen Nykwist who spent many days creating the passionate haunting red world of "Cries and Whispers. The title came to Bergman from one of the reviews on a Mozart's sonata (he does not remember which one). The sonata was described as sounds of cries and whispers
"Cries and Whispers" is about pain, death, love, lust, hate, and self-loathing. There are more than one scene in the film that I found unbearable, horrifying and depressing. In the same time, it is about beauty and power of life, every minute of it - how little we appreciated it until it is too late. Typical Bergman's subjects, Bergman's actresses giving amazing performances, strikingly beautiful it even hurts your eyes cinematography by Sven Nykvist - typical Bergman's masterpiece - what less do we expect from him? I admire the brilliance of it: acting, cinematography, Bergman's simple but devastating approach to Death as an inevitable part of life. The ending is heartbreaking - with Harriet's face and her words from beyond the grave about appreciating every minute of life...
Powerful and devastating film.
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