Monday, December 2, 2013

War, What is it Good for?

Shame (1968) - Bergman
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Jan (Max von Sydow) and Eva (Liv Ullman) are a childless couple living rustic life in an island. Through their conversation it is revealed that they are former musicians in an orchestra before it was disbanded, presumably, because of the looming war. It also seems that the couple's having some marital problems. Eva wants a baby but Jan doesn't. Eva loathes Jan's passivity and escapist tendencies. The war comes roaring in with jet planes and bombs. The war- destructions, dead bodies, fire, threats, media manipulation..., brings the worst in the couple and heightens the rift between them. The life of the couple is turned upside down, inside out, thoroughly exploited and exhausted by both sides of the fence.

I've never seen the horrors of war this frightening in b&w. The fear and anxiety Bergman, von Sydow and Ullman bring to the screen are amazing. Shame is a complex anti-war film. The setting, its fuzzy time frame are almost expressionistic against realistic performances of the actors. It denounces war, any war and shows how it sucks humanity out of normal people. And what an ending- as they aimlessly float in purgatory treading through full of dead corpses, Eva recites a rather erotic dream. She says she tried to remember something somone had said, not remembering that pleasurable moment. Art is dead (as indicated in Jan's dream that starts the film), love is dead, all that is left is shame of losing them.

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