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Sweden, 1968



Directed by: Ingmar Bergman

Screenplay: Ingmar Bergman

Cast: Max von Sydow and Liv Ullmann

Photography: Sven Nykvist

Soundtrack: Lars Johan Werle

Editing: Ulla Ryghe

Production Design: Marik Vos-Lundh

Duration: 90 min

 Cinema as a sign of the human soul

By Flávio Roberto Nunes

 “Sorry, I call myself an artist for lack of a better expression. In my creative process, nothing is evident. It is, in a way, a compulsion. Unexpectedly, I was classified as something exceptional, a five-legged calf, a monster. I have never fought for this position, nor am I struggling to keep it. Without a doubt, I felt a megalomania go to my head, but I believe I am immune. It is pertinent to think about the small importance of art in today's world. Calm down, even if the compulsion remains.”

johan borg

  Although, with the release of Persona, in 1966, Bergman already indicated the prospect of a revolutionary way of making films, it was with  A Hora do Lobo (Vargtimmen), released two years later, which the Swede made its purpose clearer and more evident. After having produced almost thirty films, all more or less cast in traditional molds and often exploring themes such as the freedom or slavery of the human being in the face of the reasons presented to him, it is with this work of art that he renews and deepens, both in structure and themes, a certain probing procedure in the abysses of the human soul.  

   Yes, the film has all the elements of goth (mystery, madness, lust, death, degradation, etc.), but the truth is that it is not a horror movie, like some critics.  have been highlighted. Surrealist, it would be less rash to say, if we take into account the role of the unconscious and several scenes worthy of a Buñuel, such as the old lady dismounting her own face and putting her eye into a glass of water. Even so, there are other implications, such as the heavy load of symbols, to name just this one, that do not fit the limits of this aesthetic. The demons that torment the characters are not real, in the sense that they are not entities in themselves, independent of those subjectivities. The painter's visions are much more like projections of his own psyche, personifications of his own feelings, than beings that come to him from outside. 


Bergman, dramas as the content of a very serious art 

  The film's title refers to the moments between midnight and dawn. The hours drag on in silence, traumas and dormant fears awaken, even more for those who suffer from insomnia. A psychological minute seems like an eternity, sleep doesn't come, at most here and there a blink of burning eyes accompanied by the prefiguration of the most horrible nightmares. This moment when most people leave the world, by death, or arrive in it without knowing where they come from or where they are going, this moment when madness knocks at the doors of a mortal ready to welcome it, this moment is that the ancients called it the hour of the wolf. 


Sydow, interpreter of existential terror

  The drama is played out by Johan Borg (Max von Sydow), a painter, and Alma (Liv Ullmann), his wife, in a voluntary refuge on a shadowy island. The symbolic image of the arrival on the boat, in fact, reminds us of Charonte himself, bringing us, with the souls of the damned, to the other bank of one of the rivers of hell. Highlight, by the way, for the photography of Sven Nyskist, Bergman's eternal partner, opposing flashes to dense shadows in the proximity of the images with the camera and in the distances of the device with the most distant places. Everything happens from Alma's point of view. Apart from a brief introduction by the Director, it is Alma who narrates, with her husband having already disappeared. Even when he was alone, the facts that happened to him are seen either from what he told her or tells her, or from the reading she makes of the diary he has left. There are sudden changes in Johan's mood, with evident creative block, returning from yet another frustrated attempt to paint outdoors; there is Alma seeing the same demons that torment her husband, because, she suspects, the fact that a woman loves a man very much, after some time together, that woman begins to look like that man, begins to feel, to think, suffer, and often even go mad with it; there is a castle inhabited by sadists, lustful, jealous; there is the appearance of a boy on the island while Johan was fishing, and the scenes that follow are some of the most disturbing since the beginnings of the seventh art. Whether it's worth watching? For sure. And, preferably, at the time of the wolf.

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