I’m not sure where I come down on this film. There were moments that actually made me anxious, though there is nothing graphically disturbing happening.
In what was Ingmar Bergman’s only horror film, the wonderful Max Von Sydow takes center stage as an artist plagued by the ghosts and demons of his past, though whether they are physically real, or merely hallucinations is left completely up to the viewer.
Arriving on a quiet, windy island, Johan Borg (Sydow) and Alma (Liv Ullmann) reclaim their cabin and settle in.
Almost immediately Johan is haunted by visions, or manifestations brought on by his past. Feral children, a woman who can’t take her hat off or her face will come with it, bird men, and a general assortment of troubled souls.
Bergman’s style, and love of music is front and center in the film. and as mentioned there is some disturbing moments.
There’s a sequence where Johan is fishing, and the feral boy is simply standing behind him, watching him. The way it’s framed, the use of music, and the fact that the boy just stands there, his and Johan’s back to the camera, it just bothered me.
When Johan is pushed to his limit, and is wandering through a castle, seeking a lost love, he comes across the inhabitants, all of them directing him towards her, and all of them just simply disturbing.
There are themes, images, and visuals all at work in this film, and I think a revisit may be necessary to form a final opinion.
For now, I’m still divided, but intrigued as well.