Review - "Shame" (1968) (Svensk Filmindustri)

WriterDave By WriterDave, 18th Jun 2013 | Follow this author | RSS Feed
Posted in Wikinut>Reviews>Film & TV>Drama

Ingmar Bergman was clearly a deep thinker, a humanist, a believer in art and its effect on an audience. With "Shame" he poses a fictional, hypothetical war, places two characters in the midst of it, and shows the dehumanizing influences war imparts on them. His love of Strindberg is readily apparent in this drama of epic proportions.

Bergman, Ullmann, & Von Sydow

Liv Ullmann and Max Von Sydow, two extremely gifted actors, play husband & wife living on a small island. When a distant war becomes one in their own backyard (literally) the couple struggle to retain their humanity amongst the horrible fallout. From simple farmers, to war victims, to active survivors and beyond, their characters experience profound changes.

Bergman’s, “Shame” can be seen as an anti-war film, but it also the story of this man and this woman who through everything cling to one another. Alternately loving, obstinate, childish, cold, caring and callous, they are Bergman’s reflection of a modern relationship. Bergman poses the question: What happens when this simple couple’s world is turned upside-down? Does the couple taking on characteristics of their aggressors forever change them? How do they cope with the rapid change?

The film seems to have much more scope and action than most of Bergman’s films. Bergman’s characteristic small budget most have been increased somewhat for this very realistic, cinematic, well-staged, and humanistic tale about the futility of war and absurdity of puppet politics.

Ullmann stands out in a complex performance which flip flops from a well controlled personality into a frantic, needy sort. Von Sydow also has his character arc - he starts out as a timid, coward; somewhat gentle and rather henpecked. His looks of bewilderment and confusion are utterly heartbreaking, After a singular event, his character becomes bitter and focused. Von Sydow illustrates the tragedy of losing one’s heart and humanity.

Bergman clearly uses both Ullman and Von Sydow as his sounding board throughout the harrowing tale. Bergman uses the milieu of war to represent chaos, which brings out the true natures of both Von Sydow’s and Ullmann’s characters.


Ingmar Bergman, Liv Ullmann, Max Von Sydow

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author avatar WriterDave
Writing can be many things to many people. For me, it is a way of expression and understanding. Reviewing films, hopefully helps myself and others better understand and get more out of the film.

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