101 Cries and Whispers

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Martha
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101 Cries and Whispers

#1 Post by Martha » Sat Feb 12, 2005 8:32 pm

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101 Cries and Whispers

This existential wail of a drama from Ingmar Bergman concerns two sisters, Karin (Ingrid Thulin) and Maria (Liv Ullmann), keeping vigil for a third, Agnes (Harriet Andersson), who is dying of cancer and can find solace only in the arms of a beatific nurse (Kari Sylwan). An intensely felt film that may be Bergman’s most striking formal experiment, Cries and Whispers (which won an Oscar for the extraordinary color photography of Sven Nykvist) is a powerful depiction of human behavior in the face of death, positioned on the borders between reality and nightmare, tranquillity and terror.

Special Features
New 2K digital restoration, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray
Introduction by Ingmar Bergman from 2001
New interview with actor Harriet Andersson, conducted by film scholar Peter Cowie
New video essay on the film’s visuals by filmmaker : : kogonada
Behind-the-scenes footage with commentary by Cowie
Ingmar Bergman: Reflections on Life, Death, and Love with Erland Josephson (2000), a 52-minute interview with Bergman and his longtime collaborator
Trailer
New English subtitle translation
Optional English-dubbed soundtrack
PLUS: An essay by film scholar Emma Wilson


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In Heaven
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#2 Post by In Heaven » Sat Dec 31, 2005 4:50 pm

Why is the ending screen, which reads "Sa tystnar Viskningarna och ropen" untranslated with no subtitles? It appears to be impotant... It aparently means ""So the cries and whispers become silent"."

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Michael
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#3 Post by Michael » Mon Jul 30, 2007 12:15 pm

I'd like to elaborate a bit on the lesbian angle of Cries and Whispers, one of the things about the film that leaves me in an awe every time I watch it.

It's clear to me that Agnes and her "housekeeper" were lovers. Agnes was a lesbian and I think the estate was left to her to maintain because she was alone ("unmarried", childless) unlike her sisters who were wrapped up with their husbands, boyfriends, and children. Entered the housekeeper named Anna. Over the years, her relationship with Agnes developed and evolved into a marriage. I think the love between Agnes and Anna was kept hidden from the family - not only because of the lesbianism, also because of the housekeeper was possibly seen as "low class" and also being paid by the estate money for the maintenance, etc. Agnes and Anna seemed to be isolated in that monstrous house for years - disconnected from her family and sisters all never seemed to understand Agnes (possibly due to her lesbianism). So when Agnes was close to death, her sisters crashed into the picture (in hope to take over the estate and money of course), selfishly pushing her lover to the corner, ignoring her almost completely. I've seen that kind of thing occuring tragically to gay people when their relatives treat their partners as distant friends or even nothing.

It's no surprise that the sisters were stranger to Anna so it was a revelation when reading Agnes' diary (the only thing she asked for..I'd have asked for the same thing if my lover kept a diary..something that's most intimate) in the film's conclusion, she discovered that Agnes had a happy moment (but sadly, only one) with her sisters long ago - on that swing.

I haven't seen Cries and Whispers in years but this is something I never forget.

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Mr Sausage
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#4 Post by Mr Sausage » Mon Jul 30, 2007 3:03 pm

Concerning those moments where Ana cradles Agnes and undoes her shirt, I always found that gesture maternal rather than erotic. Especially as she reveals only one of her breasts as tho' to nourish a child. Now this may be a Scandanavian thing, but I notice especially in Bergman's films that people are more likely to engage in affectionate physical contact which is for them 'platonic' or non-erotic at a level that North Americans are not familiar with and thus may feel slightly uncomfortable towards. I think this often leads to interpreting the gestures sexually. (A good analogue is someone growing up with the handshake as the acceptable means of greeting being introduced to a culture where it is customary to kiss one another on the cheek twice--a gesture which would appear uncomfortably sexual).

Michael--I do find your analysis interesting, mostly because that extent of it did not occur to me; but I wonder if designating the relationship homosexual simplifies rather than deepens the movie. I guess it just fits far too easily, and explains too much, for me to readily accept it--although I hesitate to outright reject it.

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Michael
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#5 Post by Michael » Mon Jul 30, 2007 3:34 pm

About that "Pieta" scene, I can understand how it's perceived as being maternal but the exchange between Agnes and Anna in every scene of the film has deeply intimate sparks flying between them, the history and depth of their love for each other just bleed through. It's so much more than just a woman and her housekeeper. The film never write them as lovers but it's just how it makes me feel.. the circumstances, the emotions, etc just naturally pull me into thinking they're lovers. I didn't analyze anything, those two being lovers just appeared, felt most natural to me. It just made sense to me, the way the sisters behaved around Anna and how Anna remained so humble.

If my lover was dying, I'd hold him in my arms - closest to my heart as possible, like Anna did with Agnes. Sexual, maternal, paternal, erotic, platonic, whatever. It doesn't matter because I love him.

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Ornette
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#6 Post by Ornette » Mon Jul 30, 2007 6:44 pm

I can also see how the "Pieta" scene may be interpreted as more of maternal affection, so instead think of the scene where she has died and literally started to rotten and starts calling out for her sisters, but is rejected by them. Anna though, without even the slightest hesitation, holds her till she finally let go of life.

I'd say that's sort of the ultimate proof of love in the deepest sense of the word.

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Mr Sausage
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#7 Post by Mr Sausage » Mon Jul 30, 2007 8:07 pm

Ornette wrote:I can also see how the "Pieta" scene may be interpreted as more of maternal affection, so instead think of the scene where she has died and literally started to rotten and starts calling out for her sisters, but is rejected by them. Anna though, without even the slightest hesitation, holds her till she finally let go of life.

I'd say that's sort of the ultimate proof of love in the deepest sense of the word.
I'm sorry, but nothing you've just said disproves a maternal interpretation. And if that was your intent, I find it sad that you think parental love is not capable of being love "in the deepest sense of the word."
Michael wrote:If my lover was dying, I'd hold him in my arms - closest to my heart as possible, like Anna did with Agnes. Sexual, maternal, paternal, erotic, platonic, whatever. It doesn't matter because I love him.
Don't get me wrong, I'm not at all disputing that their relationship is built on profound mutual love. I also think it's great that the movie affects you this deeply and I have no ground to argue with your feelings. However, I always saw the movie contrasting filial affection: the deficient familial love of the real sisters Karin and Maria versus the triumph of it in the non-related Anna and Ages (it occurs to me that the alliteration is intentional). In that way I think the film turns on a sad irony.

I am less trying to convince you than explain myself, understand.

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Ornette
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#8 Post by Ornette » Mon Jul 30, 2007 9:04 pm

Mr_sausage wrote:
Ornette wrote:I can also see how the "Pieta" scene may be interpreted as more of maternal affection, so instead think of the scene where she has died and literally started to rotten and starts calling out for her sisters, but is rejected by them. Anna though, without even the slightest hesitation, holds her till she finally let go of life.

I'd say that's sort of the ultimate proof of love in the deepest sense of the word.
I'm sorry, but nothing you've just said disproves a maternal interpretation. And if that was your intent, I find it sad that you think parental love is not capable of being love "in the deepest sense of the word."
You're right, that doesn't disaprove the maternal interpretation and my intent was absolutely not to say that "parental love is not capable of being love 'in the deepest sense of the word'" -- which is the greatest love that I've experienced myself. It think that it just shows that I really didn't know what to make out of their relationship in the first place, which leaves my post completely useless.

Needless to say, I've to give this some more thought because I find it very hard defining their relationship, but it has always moved me like few others depicted on film.

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Ornette
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#9 Post by Ornette » Tue Jul 31, 2007 3:54 pm

Thinking more about it I think the maternal love aspect is more probable than the lesbian one, considering two things, the first one being the child of Anna that died very young from some disease and the second one being Agnes' distant and lacking relationship to her mother -- Maria apparently being the favourite daughter.
I think that the devotion and love that Anna gives to Agnes is the devotion and love that she'd otherwise have given her child -- Agnes being ill is also mirroring the situation when Anna's child was sick. This may additionally also be one way to handle the loss of her daughter. But we don't know how their relationship looked like before Annas's daughter died (or before Agnes got sick), so it's hard to know.
Agnes, never feeling close to her mother (although there's a flashback when she's spying on her, is discovered and at that moment feels, perhaps for the first and only time, a deep connection with her) is very receptive to Anna's (motherly) love, which is also possibly the first time that kind of love has been directed at her.

But like I said, not knowing how their relationship looked before, this reasoning is far from waterproof and leaves your interpretation, Michael, also probable to me.

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RevRick
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#10 Post by RevRick » Wed Aug 01, 2007 10:09 pm

I'm fairly new to Bergman's films--alas, there will be no more--but of the ones I've seen, Cries and Whispers is my favorite, alongside Fanny and Alexander, that is ...

It seems to me that the relationship between Agnes and Anna admits of both interpretations, lesbian and maternal, and I don't see why that couldn't have been Bergman's intention . . . as I was watching the film, I sensed the lesbian connection described by Michael, and yet the very fact that it is an obvious "pieta" argues for the maternal component as well.

As is obvious by the film as a whole, Bergman was saying something very complex about human relationships . . . the one thing that leapt out at me was that not only are there maternal/sexual overtones to the relationships the four women, Agnes is to be understood as a Christ figure . . . when she dies, it effects in the remaining sisters an episode of reconciliation/redemption, but by the film's end they had reverted to their old, cold ways . . . the sacrifice of the Christ/Agnes figure in the end was fruitless, a powerful denial of the bedrock Christian belief in the atonement, and Bergman's obession with the absence/ineffectualness of God on full display.

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#11 Post by yukiyuki » Wed Aug 08, 2007 9:53 am

Weird, the IMDB listed this film duration as 106 minutes in uSA, but my Criterion disc is 91 minutes. Any thoughts?

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#12 Post by MichaelB » Fri Aug 17, 2007 12:57 pm

yukiyuki wrote:Weird, the IMDB listed this film duration as 106 minutes in uSA, but my Criterion disc is 91 minutes. Any thoughts?
Yes, the IMDB got it wrong(*).

As far as I'm aware, there's only ever been one version of this film, and that's 8,190 feet - or 91 minutes exactly.

(*) in the past tense, as I see someone's corrected the entry.

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Minkin
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Re: 101 Cries and Whispers

#13 Post by Minkin » Tue Oct 05, 2010 1:43 pm


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domino harvey
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Re: 101 Cries and Whispers

#14 Post by domino harvey » Mon Dec 15, 2014 6:45 pm

Upgrade March 31
New 2K digital restoration, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray
Introduction by Ingmar Bergman from 2001
New interview with actor Harriet Andersson, conducted by film scholar Peter Cowie
New video essay on the film’s visuals by filmmaker : : kogonada
Behind-the-scenes footage with commentary by Cowie
Ingmar Bergman: Reflections on Life, Death, and Love with Erland Josephson (2000), a 52-minute interview with Bergman and his longtime collaborator
Trailer
New English subtitle translation
Optional English-dubbed soundtrack
PLUS: An essay by film scholar Emma Wilson

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domino harvey
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Re: 101 Cries and Whispers

#15 Post by domino harvey » Mon Dec 15, 2014 7:02 pm

It seems a little off one of the new primary focuses of one of Bergman's greatest films about women is an in-depth study of one of Bergman's male actors

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jsteffe
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Re: 101 Cries and Whispers

#16 Post by jsteffe » Mon Dec 15, 2014 7:17 pm

Domino--I see what you're saying, but the package does have a new interview with Harriet Andersson, whereas the Erland Josephson interview dates from 2000 so it's being repurposed for this edition.

I'm surprised that one of Bergman's masterpieces has received "only" a 2K restoration and not a 4K, but it's still very nice to see it happening.

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hearthesilence
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Re: 101 Cries and Whispers

#17 Post by hearthesilence » Mon Dec 15, 2014 9:22 pm

2k seems a bit outdated now - even for 16mm film, I'm seeing more people push for 4k just to get a better grain texture (or something to that effect). What's the rationale for going ahead with a 2k transfer? Is it done with home video in mind (i.e. it's only going to be used for HD displays)?

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EddieLarkin
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Re: 101 Cries and Whispers

#18 Post by EddieLarkin » Mon Dec 15, 2014 9:31 pm

I imagine it being many times cheaper is a big factor. Personally I've never watched a 2K transfer and thought "man, I really wish this was a 4K transfer (but still downrezzed to 1080p)". The people behind the transfer and the equipment used to carry it out seem far more important to achieving a good presentation. See for instance Criterion's transfer of Plein Soleil (2K) against StudioCanal's (4K).

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jsteffe
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Re: 101 Cries and Whispers

#19 Post by jsteffe » Mon Dec 15, 2014 10:13 pm

EddieLarkin wrote:I imagine it being many times cheaper is a big factor. Personally I've never watched a 2K transfer and thought "man, I really wish this was a 4K transfer (but still downrezzed to 1080p)". The people behind the transfer and the equipment used to carry it out seem far more important to achieving a good presentation. See for instance Criterion's transfer of Plein Soleil (2K) against StudioCanal's (4K).
Very true--it matters a great deal who does the actual work. I wasn't thinking so much about a home video presentation, which will no doubt look fine in 2K. I was thinking more about a 4K scan in terms of long-term preservation alongside the film elements.

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Yaanu
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Re: 101 Cries and Whispers

#20 Post by Yaanu » Mon Dec 15, 2014 11:19 pm

hearthesilence wrote:2k seems a bit outdated now - even for 16mm film, I'm seeing more people push for 4k just to get a better grain texture (or something to that effect). What's the rationale for going ahead with a 2k transfer? Is it done with home video in mind (i.e. it's only going to be used for HD displays)?
I think it depends on how much time you have on hand, since rendering film into a 4K image naturally takes up more time than transferring into 2K.
Plus, at this point in the HD game, transferring into 4K is more for theatrical projection of films, as well as future-proofing your transfer for if/when 4K becomes a consumer standard.

But for the most part I'm just talking out of my ass.

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Brian C
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Re: 101 Cries and Whispers

#21 Post by Brian C » Mon Dec 15, 2014 11:26 pm

For what it's worth, most new theatrical films are still released 2K.

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FrauBlucher
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Re: 101 Cries and Whispers

#22 Post by FrauBlucher » Fri Feb 20, 2015 7:04 pm


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EddieLarkin
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Re: 101 Cries and Whispers

#23 Post by EddieLarkin » Fri Feb 20, 2015 7:14 pm

When you consider the "new" look, I can almost understand why they wanted to go with the cover they did. For the record, I thought Autumn Sonata looked perfect and I predict I'll feel the same way about this.

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Minkin
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Re: 101 Cries and Whispers

#24 Post by Minkin » Wed Mar 11, 2015 7:23 pm


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hearthesilence
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Re: 101 Cries and Whispers

#25 Post by hearthesilence » Wed Mar 11, 2015 9:17 pm

Regarding resolution (2k and 4k), I had a long talk about this with two different people. The first was doing a lot of work in film restoration, and at the time he was scanning 16mm negatives in 4k. I asked him if 2k would've saved him a lot of grief for little, if any, loss considering that 4k was allegedly the same resolution of 35mm. Paraphrasing and condensing his words, he basically said that even though there isn't more filmed visual information to be pulled from the negative, the look of the grain - the texture, structure, etc. - is vastly improved at higher resolution scans. His long explanation as to why this might be seemed to be that what was filmed isn't going to be more detailed, but the actual physical film stock itself would be. So that's why you'd want to scan the negative and restore it at a higher resolution.

The second guy I talked to used to be involved in the making of film prints before switching over to digital work, and this was weeks after talking to the first guy. Using that earlier conversation as a reference, he basically explained that making 35mm film prints before the DCP era would involve a loss of information at each stage of creating a film element, and if you wanted to put a number to it in terms of how much visual information is retained from an original 35mm negative, the final 35mm print that gets shown in a theater would actually be like a 2k representation of what was originally "captured" by the camera. So the idea of showing DCP's at 2k seems reasonable because it's the equivalent of what we were usually getting before anyway…but we can now expect to retain more visual information than what we're used to from the moment an image is captured to the moment it's projected in a theater.

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