Shame (1968)

Shame (1968), written and directed by Ingmar Bergman.

A bitter tale of civilians caught in the chaos of civil war. A couple, formally musicians, now live on a remote farm. Max Von Sydow is sensitive, Liv Ullmann is the dominant and decisive partner. When the war reaches their area they are senselessly brutalized by both sides. They need the protection and patronage of a politician, but his price is sex with the wife. The husband gets his revenge and toughens up, but it is all shameful. Heroism, honor, dignity: all gone, not even possible in the circumstances. In the end they are refugees, drifting in an open boat with strangers.

We have no notion of which side is which or what they are fighting about. The scariest part is the prospect of getting ground up in the bureaucratic machine: grey little men who exercise arbitrary power of life and death. Normally we could ignore such characters, but in wartime their inhibitions drop and they can commit all sorts of savagery.

In a touching early scene the couple sit in an antique store, listen to a musical figurine, look at the mementos of earlier times and think about better days.

A continuing theme is "children". She wants them but it isn't happening. When the war starts she says "I'm glad we don't have any and never will." After the affair with the politician who knows what might happen? But by then all hope is gone.

Liv Ullmann's face is featured throughout; it is worth studying.

Neither the IMDB nor dvdcompare give the OAR. The DVD is 1.33:1.

Photographed by Sven Nykvist.