Close Up

30 November - 23 December 2018: Hour of the Wolf


Hour of the Wolf
Ingmar Bergman
1968 | 88 min | B/W | Digital
Swedish & Norwegian with English subtitles

"Bergman’s psychological demons long pervaded his work implicitly, but rarely were they given the monstrous material form they are accorded in Hour of the Wolf, the director’s only outright horror film. It doesn’t take much interpretive work to register Max von Sydow’s tortured artist, Johan, as a transparent director surrogate, since the character, who is visiting a remote island cottage with his pregnant wife (Liv Ullmann, who had given birth to Bergman’s child two years prior), is prone to the kind of doom-laden, self-lacerating monologues that Bergman would often record in writing. Over the course of an especially dark night of the soul, in the particular pocket of time referenced by the title, Johan is tormented by the visions that hitherto only plagued him in nightmares. A group of suspicious neighbors, including a spectacularly ominous Erland Josephson, invite him over for a late dinner party that descends into a malicious trap, at which point Bergman spills a funhouse-mirror display of disorienting imagery that makes cunning use of primitive special effects. That Bergman followed up Hour of the Wolf with a film as formidable as Shame is hard to fathom; this feels like the kind of private exorcism from which artists cannot easily return." – Harvard Film Archive

Part of our season on Ingmar Bergman