Starring: Harriet Andersson, Liv Ullmann, Ingrid Thulin
Director: Ingmar Bergman
Running Time: 91 mins
Cries And Whispers (Viskningar och rop) is a Swedish film about two siblings who visit their ailing mother who is dying of cancer, but the visit soon brings to the surface old tensions between them.
As is always the case with Ingmar Bergman, Cries And Whispers is a film so thematically rich and complex that it certainly requires more than one watch to understand to the full. However, there were more than a few things that I found very interesting about this film.
Though not quite as elegant as Wild Strawberries, as psychologically intense as Persona, or as gripping as Fanny And Alexander, Cries And Whispers is an interesting and visually striking look at the life of a family, uniting themes from a number of Bergman’s greatest cinematic works.
Following the story of siblings visiting their ailing mother, Bergman touches on themes of family, as well as the theme of the life cycle which he handled so elegantly in Wild Strawberries.
Cries And Whispers is a bit of a cynical counterpart to Wild Strawberries, watching how the life cycle unfolds not through the continuity between generations, but the way in which subsequent generations can take away from their predecessors.
The opening few minutes of this film are almost entirely focused on the suffering of the ailing mother, sat in bed being cared for, but clearly in a bad way. By the end of the film, however, she is little more than a side character, relegated to that position by the conflict between her offspring.
As a result, the film strikes up a fascinating look at how successive generations supersede their predecessors, and how internal conflicts between them and their own priorities will often inevitably neglect those that once took care of them when they were young.
Of course, there is brighter drama to be seen here, and as we see the tensions between family members through the film, we also hear of how the characters remember their youth fondly, thinking the highest of their mothers and predecessors from the past.
It’s an interesting contrast between the innermost thoughts of characters and their real-world actions, suggesting how people’s own priorities and objectives so often get in the way of what they actually feel at heart.
Complete with elegant and visually striking cinematography that blends the calm period settings of late 19th century Sweden with powerful, blood reds at the film’s most intense moments, Cries And Whispers is a captivating watch throughout, even if it is exceedingly complex, and a film that I certainly need to watch again. So, that’s why I’m giving the film a 7.2 overall.