19 January 2010 | zolaaar
Landscapes of the Soul
I think, En passion is indeed not a perfect film, but who likes perfection? In fact, I think, up to now, it belongs in Bergman's top 10 and is a great addition to the issues argued in Vargtimmen, Skammen and Rite. All these characters here are not really authentic, but one: Verner, the old man suspected by the villagers on that island to be the animal abuser, and therefore excruciated. Everyone else, including Andreas, Anna and the couple they are friends with, are people who call for problems, get entrapped by them and catapult themselves into an almost-catastrophe. It's interesting that Verner, writes to Andreas, who seems to be the worst of all, i.e. most un-authentic, a suicide note, saying: "I can't look into anyone's eyes anymore", is, to my understanding, the key to the film - self-made problems contrasted with problems created externally. Given Verner's suicide, driven by slander and torture, Andreas' and Anna's issues in their relationship fade, normally, but then an axe gets involved, a stable burns down and a horse runs off, ablazed, kindled by the real animal tormentor who still is on the loose. An inferno.
What I like most about this film, though, is its situational context: the island. I can't think of another Bergman film where the environment plays a bigger role than here. All figures are moving in a lost, iced vastness, in defoliated, sparse woods, get stuck in morass and dirt. Animals get brutally tortured and killed, wood gets chopped, wagons bog down in mud. The forlornness and menace of the people in nature is wonderfully captured by Nykvist, mostly in long, high-angle or panoramic shots and is an intriguing contrast to the interior (of the cottages, where the talking, cheating and fighting takes place) - inside there lurks the psychic, outside there's the physical death. That is a great imagery. However, I'm not satisfied with these interview snippets which I think is a nice idea (such as Bergman's verbal directions in the off in Vargtimmen), but it's executed quite poorly.