Review: Viskningar och rop (Cries & Whispers, 1972)

cries and whispers

I don’t whisper often, but I have been known to suffer from dust in the room every now and then!

Written By: Ingmar Bergman
Directed By: Ingmar Bergman

As Ingmar Bergman as a film can be, which is to say luscious in the way it explores its themes. Viskningar och rop is about its themes and the way they tie into the lives of the films female characters. This is accomplished through a typical Herr Bergman approach of melding a thoughtful screenplay with gorgeous visuals. Viskningar och rop may be the best blend of the two I’ve seen in a film from Herr Bergman. That’s not to say that it’s his best film, but more than any other work I’ve seen from Herr Bergman Viskningar och rop presents a script and visuals that need each other to exist.

The themes are what is most important in Viskningar och rop. They are, as is always the case, open for interpretation. I interpreted the film to be about the deconstruction of family and the ineffectual nature of death. Herr Bergman takes an obtuse approach to those themes, presenting them in a way that struck me as unlike most films about family and death. Both themes are explored fully, they are given an adequate amount of time to breathe and grow so that they are complete. As is often the case with a film from Ingmar Bergman his exploration of the films themes ended up being my favorite aspect of the film in question.

Instead of offering a cheery look at a family coming together Viskningar och rop is about a family that is torn apart. Even as they gather for the death of a sibling the sisters cannot find a way to co-exist. For years they have viewed family as a battlefield, not as a recluse from the ills of the world. To this end they have become distant and combative with one another. They tolerate each other, but that is about as far as their relationships extend. The screenplay offers the sisters many chances to mend their relationships, but they find a way to spurn or enrage one another every time. This is the theme that the film explores the deepest, and it illuminates much of what family has come to mean to many me (at least the family I grew up with.)

Death is a theme that many films attempt to tackle. In Viskningar och rop death is not something that effects those surrounded by it. Death as presented in Viskningar och rop happens and is moved past. That’s what Herr Bergman has boiled death down to, an event that occurs and stays only an event within our lives. It’s a harsh view of death, far removed from the stance that death should be celebrated, mourned, or have a long lasting effect on those it touches. Again, the film explores the theme splendidly and I enjoyed that Viskningar och rop got my brain working on the way I view death.

In many ways Viskningar och rop is pure delight for an Ingmar Bergman fan. It brings together a trio of his most celebrated actresses, and his longtime cinematographer. It explores themes that the audience can relate to, but it explores those themes in a way that is decidedly from the pen of Ingmar Bergman. Watching Viskningar och rop was a delightful experience, as well as a taxing and thought provoking one. It’s an excellent film, which makes it yet another excellent film to add to the catalog of a Swedish master.



Bill Thompson

2 responses to “Review: Viskningar och rop (Cries & Whispers, 1972)

  1. Jordan Richardson

    This movie ripped my guts out. It’s fantastic, but it requires strength to get through. Nice review, man.

  2. It is a rough one to get through, but very rewarding.

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