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1 review, 15 user ratings

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Passion of Anna, The
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by Dr. Isaksson

"A complex Tale of the Embittered Soul"
4 stars

Ingmar Bergman's "The Passion of Anna" is a harsh, dreary tale which circles around four people who must come to terms with each of their own empty existences.

Colors are the most notable change in the first of Bergman's films to escape the realm of black and white. What a difference a few hues make! In the beginning you are introduced to Andreas Winkleman, (played by the wonderful Max von Sydow). He is a forty something year old man who is living alone on a slightly inhabited Swedish island. We watch as he applies stone tiles to the roof of his humble abode during the hazy, snowy days of winter. Silence seems to pervade the area with only a few sheep clopping around the hilly snow banks in the distance. It's here in the film that the viewer gets a look at an amazing cinematic shot of the horizon. But suddenly, the orange sky becomes darkened by a mass of clouds and the bright sun changes into a dull gray sphere. A telltale sign of things to come?

Andreas' life is simple enough. He talks to the local folk of the island and no large event has stirred him to emotion until one day a beautiful woman arrives at his home asking to use the phone. Her name is Anna Fromm (played impeccably by Liv Ullmann) she walks with a limp and uses a cane. After the phone call, she gets into her car, forgetting her purse. Andreas takes the purse to Anna's place of residence and there meets a married couple who Anna is living with. Elis and Eva Vergerus (played by Erland Josephson and Bibi Andersson). Elis is a successful architect and Eva is his insomniac housewife. Andreas begins a friendship with the three people and learns much about their thoughts and ideals. He also begins revealing to his company the fragments which make up his past and his thoughts on everyday life in general. It is also here that we learn of the four's cynicism, their hopes, their passions.

Sometime later, Elis leaves the island on business and Eva, in her desperation and loneliness, seeks out Andreas for company. The mutual isolation they feel leads to an affair but they know that it is all for the wrong reasons and they amicably part. Meanwhile a madman has been running amok on the island, brutally killing the locals livestock in the night. No one knows who could be doing such a thing and so it continues. (The relevance of this is hard to define). About this time, Anna moves in with Andreas and they begin a relationship. However, there are too many demons of the past circling them and as the film moves on, the day to day living becomes a strain. In a huge scene, Anna tells of a horrific car accident she endured which killed her husband and baby son and left her leg crippled. The past is never too far behind the two and it begins to suffocate them.

Noticing this erosion, they attempt to salvage what they are losing. Andreas and Anna look deep within themselves hoping to find something true and honest to offer one another. Also, a validation that the relationship between them has a real purpose. This search only leads to more doubts and ultimately to a shattering conclusion. Has any of this been real? Was it all a masquerade to disguise the truth hidden away inside? Andreas and Anna begin to realize what they feared most and this truth comes with shattering conseqences.

Being a huge fan of Ingmar Bergman, I have to say that The Passion of Anna is not one of my favorite films of his. His direction throughout is amazing (as always) and the writing is frank and brutal in it's truthfulness. And Bergman uses an interesting method during the film of showing short interviews with each of the four actors discussing their characters. A bit daring because Bergman ran the risk of breaking the flow of the film and the believability. However this never happens because of the brilliant acting. Liv Ullmann is perfect as Anna and Max von Sydow handles Andreas with harsh realism.

I can definitely respect this film's honesty. Yet, the constant subtle sadness never lifts and I felt a bit weighed down by it's empty outlook. Also, the characters have already lived through all their hardest times and trials before the film begins so as a viewer you feel as though you missed out on all the main reasons underneath their sorrow. Never in Bergman's career has he created a film with characters so heartbreakingly devoid of hope. The four seem to know that the sun will never shine brightly for them and even more, they cannot push away the dark clouds from their view. Anna Fromm has a passion, but it's only held together with old happier memories that serve to keep her spirit from dying.

"The Passion of Anna" is an extremely complex tale about four people trying to fill the voids left by disillusion and past tragedies. **** Stars

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originally posted: 01/25/02 13:33:39
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User Comments

4/24/11 Randy Rowan Only wonderful as alwas with Bergman 5 stars
6/07/09 brian I'm NOT a fan of Bergman, generally...but this film works well. 4 stars
6/12/06 krishna kumar brilliant movie 4 stars
3/30/06 Ademir Enigmatic story, like a twin peaks of sweeden.-great work of Max von Sydow 5 stars
1/15/06 Tony Ward Bleak, sometimes puzzling, completely engrossing 5 stars
9/24/05 Miki Nilan Feel a need to see it multiple times to understand it. 4 stars
12/27/04 Nathan Chandler Brilliant and underrated 5 stars
11/01/03 kurt fredrick brilliant cinematography, script, and directing 5 stars
9/06/03 Robert Hall I loved the film. Watching the film, it was easy to relate to the characters feelings 4 stars
7/27/03 John Linton Roberson Brilliant if a minor work--actor interviews are a flaw. 5 stars
7/23/03 kintzer assaf amazing! a great masterpiece! 5 stars
5/17/02 sam theaker it can only get worse, so enjoy it now 4 stars
4/13/02 Ibis OK, so who was killing the animals - Anna? Eva? Andreas? 5 stars
4/09/02 people who are searching for fixed truth become a monster in other views 4 stars
2/19/02 Kevyn Knox Bergman's betrayal of the soul told in a harsh light of realism that is trademarked Bergman 4 stars
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  02-Aug-1969 (R)
  DVD: 10-Feb-2004



Directed by
  Ingmar Bergman

Written by
  Ingmar Bergman

  Bibi Andersson
  Britta Brunius
  Lars-Owe Carlberg
  Malin Ek
  Sigge Furst
  Erik Hell

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