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"Cries and Whispers" Ingmar Bergman 1972 Northern Europe

Filmmaker Ingmar Bergman continued making autobiographical films throughout the 1960s, primarily based on his rough personal life. Autobiography-style films were his staple, but in 1972, that changed with the horror film “Cries and Whispers.” The 1972 film instead steered in the direction of humanism and existentialism, which may have led to the innovation of simplistic storytelling in visual arts, which has become the new norm with modern movies worldwide.

 

As with most films, there are several scenes and locations, both short, medium, and long lengths. In this case, only a few exterior shots explain the environment surrounding the house, but the story almost takes place entirely, not just in one location but in one room. Several scenes were very long and may need to be clarified about how the story progresses. Still, on the other hand, the framework and editing were unique because each transition used a fade-to-red transition rather than the traditional black or white. The fade to red was shown as a transition sharing a story about women, and that likely was the easiest way for Bergman to be sure his viewers understood the story. This was likely Bergman’s because the room was entirely red, as well as to match the tension between the characters.

 

A traditional technique Bergman uses is flashbacks. Their intention was not to capture biographical history but rather close-ups of emotional details, which allowed viewers to understand what each woman was going through. For example, there were flashbacks of two characters, Anna and Agnes, who seemed to have a tense relationship. As a result, it was the exact opposite. They lived together in the family house, but there was a good chance they were in love. There was no evidence because the two characters had no physical affection or romance. This was likely intentional because the 1970s was when LGBTQ was a new aspect of the world.

 

Production took 42 days in the late summer into early autumn of 1971 with a budget under $400k, which is low for a feature film. Viewers could tell that the simplistic story put into this film allowed filming to be done more effectively and efficiently. Despite this film being innovative and straightforward, there were several criticisms from critics that the editing and use of long scenes should have been used more, which may have caused viewers to develop boredom watching this film. In addition, there was unexpected horror at several points where a sleeping woman randomly screamed at another woman.

 

Because of all the innovation and techniques, this film had one of the most significant impacts on Bergman’s film career, with the other two being “The Seventh Seal” and “Persona.” As a result, this film won an Academy Award, which was unusual for foreign cinema during this time. This was one of Bergman’s most successful films, but it was still imperfect because very few future films adapted the filmmaking style of fading to red or using extremely long and slow scenes to tell a story. From that point on, filmmakers steered away from those techniques in favor of shorter and medium-length scenes.

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