17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Underrated Bergman but ranks with the best.
I ordered "Shame" but was sent "Hour of the Wolf" instead. It was a lucky mistake. Made just after "Persona", "Hour of the Wolf" is equally as riveting and Sven Nykvist's cinemaphotography is, naturally, superb. Often compared to "The Magician" for obvious reasons, it actually defies comparison since it so much better in all respects. If you are still trying to catch up...
Published on 11 Sep 2005 by Antony Bijker
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars " Dreams can be revealed" (Veronica)
This is a remarkable companion piece to Persona,made in the flush of its success.Directed in the same year as 'Shame',using the same actors,Ullman and von Sydow.The theme-the thin line between genius and insanity-is well depicted.The association between experience,imagination,the night.The artist Johan(von Sydow) remaining unable to sleep,unleashes the demons of his...
Published on 22 May 2009 by technoguy
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17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Underrated Bergman but ranks with the best.,
This review is from: Hour Of The Wolf [DVD] (DVD)I ordered "Shame" but was sent "Hour of the Wolf" instead. It was a lucky mistake. Made just after "Persona", "Hour of the Wolf" is equally as riveting and Sven Nykvist's cinemaphotography is, naturally, superb. Often compared to "The Magician" for obvious reasons, it actually defies comparison since it so much better in all respects. If you are still trying to catch up on mainstream Bergman, don't overlook this major masterpiece. In a word, superb.
36 of 37 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Arguably Bergman's Finest Critique of Art and the Artist,
This review is from: Hour Of The Wolf [DVD] (DVD)Relatively few younger Bergman fans have probably seen "Hour of the Wolf" as it has never been released on vhs or dvd in the UK before and is rarely revived at cinemas. Of Bergman's films I had not seen before the NFT retrospective last year (which included "Sawdust and Tinsel", "Autumn Sonata", "The Passion of Anna" and "Shame", this made the greatest impact.
Needless to say the cinematography is stunning and while neither Liv Ullman nor Max von Sydow is as magnificent as in other Bergman roles, the acting of the cast is uniformly excellent. "Hour of the Wolf" has many similarities with other films (a character by the name of "Vogler" appears in a host of Bergman's films and the scene about Johan's being caned as a boy foreshadows the semi-autobiographical "Fanny and Alexander") but is perhaps closest in feel to "the Magician" in the depiction of the position of artists in society. However, "Hour of the Wolf", while no less gripping is much darker and more surreal. Some of the devices are new and welcome additions to the bows of Bergman and cinematographer Sven Nykvist, and combine to make a genuinely unsettling film.
It has been remarked that many a Bergman film features a play within a play. Here Bergman's favourite opera, "the Magic Flute", is featured and, indeed, the film stands in part as Johan's trial by fire and water. To affocianodos and those with a bare knowledge of Bergman, "Hour of the Wolf" is recommended viewing and, to the latter group, if not perhaps the quintessential Bergman film, as good a display of the the man's directoial flair as any other.
16 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars 2nd best work of Ingmar Bergman,
This review is from: Hour Of The Wolf [DVD] (DVD)2nd only to his 1957 classic "The Seventh Seal", "The Hour of the Wolf" is a great study of the inner working of the human mind. Starin the ever popular Max Von Sydow as an artist that seems to be in the grip of personal demons, along with his wife, this movie makes not only for an atmospheric and at times disturbing set up, but the story line of a man's decline into insanity makes it one of the most moving films I've ever seen.
Well worth the money as the quality is superb compared to a lot of transfers of the same age. A must for any movie collection.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars " Dreams can be revealed" (Veronica),
This review is from: Hour Of The Wolf [DVD] (DVD)This is a remarkable companion piece to Persona,made in the flush of its success.Directed in the same year as 'Shame',using the same actors,Ullman and von Sydow.The theme-the thin line between genius and insanity-is well depicted.The association between experience,imagination,the night.The artist Johan(von Sydow) remaining unable to sleep,unleashes the demons of his nightmares,until they totally possess him and take him away,leaving his wife(Ullman)with only his diary to recount what happened. The nightmare of the soirée at a château is gradually transformed into Dracula's castle as its aristocratic inhabitants become werewolves and vampires, and the artist flees into a forest of blackened, clutching trees, pursued by monstrous birds of prey.I think the down side to the film is we never see outright the demonic creatures or his drawings of them (CGI hadn't been invented).They are only suggested.Bergman may have thought that an unnecessary vulgarity or it may well have been beyond his budget. The acting is superb.But there is no counterbalance to the formal and thematic disintegration.It should have been made from Alma's point of view:to see an absolutely sane woman go crazy because she loves the madman she married, instead of seeing an already mad man go crazier at the wolfing hour.
Not until the flashbacks do we eventually come to grips with what appear to be the basic facts, and these in turn convey a speedy unreliability.Did Alma really receive a visit from the old lady in white,are the diary entries true or hallucinations?We need to discern from each of the couple what is real(most of their scenes together),what is distorted(most of the scenes at the castle),what is totally unreal(scenes described in diary +the murder of the boy).There are missing pieces of the jigsaw-Johan's disappearance.The link with Mozart is enriching-Lindhorst/ Papageno conducts Johann/Tamino along a corridor thick with wings to the room of Veronica/Pamina. "You see what you want to see," calls the Bird Man, feathers and all.Like The Magician, this film makes explicit what can be said of Bergman's most intense cinema - it is like an esoteric horror movie. It's ultimately less appealing because we are faced with, and enter, an even more demonic protagonist. Here we are immersed in - uncomfortably seeing and feeling - the vertiginous, vampyric mind of a male artist (Max von Sydow), through images that seem like shards of his fracturing psyche.At the heart of the film are strikingly gothic images, a terrible maelstrom around which floats the organic but increasingly nervous performance of Liv Ullmann.Nykvist's camera work is spellbonding.This
ranks for me below The Magician,Persona,Through a Glass,Winter Light,The Silence.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Absolutely nothing to do with wolves,
This review is from: Hour Of The Wolf [DVD] (DVD)It is fair to suggest that 'The Hour of the Wolf' is one of Bergman's lesser known films. Watching it recently for the first time and knowing nothing about it, except that is was supposedly Bergman's only horror film, I not surprisingly thought it might have something to do with wolves or possibly even werewolves. How wrong I was. The title is a reference to a metaphorical hour before the dawn when the human soul is at its most vulnerable.
And poor old Max von Sydow's soul really goes through the mill in this film, playing an insomniac artist whose rather fragile mental state forces him to confront some increasingly surreal and (presumably) metaphorical demons which makes life rather uneasy for his pregnant wife played by the ever excellent Liv Ullmann, an actress with one of the most expressive faces in film.
I must confess I really cannot make my mind up about 'The Hour of the Wolf'. If I had to describe it to someone who had never seen it, but was familiar with Bergman's other films, I would say it is either (a) the dream sequence from 'Wild Strawberries' expanded to 90 minutes and directed by Sigmund Freud; (b) a rather slapdash re-edit of all Bergman's other films distilled into one; or (c) a dry run for 'Persona'.
To someone who was not familiar with Bergman's work I would say it was a bit bonkers. But I mean that in a good way as art should be provocative and as Bergman is clearly seeing to explore the dividing line between genius and insanity, so too the audience will ask itself whether the film is a surreal masterpiece or self-indulgent twaddle.
But away with caution, dear comrades. 'The Hour of the Wolf ' is not only an Ingmar Bergman film but it is an Ingmar Bergman film photographed by Sven Nykvist and starring Max von Sydow and Liv Ullmann. That is good enough for me. Plus it would never in a thousand years have been passed by a Hollywood preview audience.
5.0 out of 5 stars Powerful,
This review is from: Hour Of The Wolf [DVD] (DVD)This is a powerful movie. It is sort of a gothic horror movie, shot in black and white, starring Max von Sydow and Liv Ullmann in the two lead roles.
'Hour of the wolf' offers a view into the life of Johan, an artist, who lives with his wife Alma and who begins to sink more and more into a world of threatening delusions, not being able any more to resist them.
The movie is compact and generally well structured, with several memorable, intense scenes.
An uncanny and oppressive atmosphere and tension is very well developed. Von Sydow's acting is good. The supporting cast is very well casted, and their acting is convincing.
Themes are insanity and losing the ability to resist your delusions, your inner demons.
And secondary: vulnerability, (unconditional) love, and humiliation.
Its unheimlich and uncanny atmosphere, somehow coming so close, hit some inner nerves in me which other movies left untouched. I consider this movie (though it has its flaws) a valuable artistic achievement of Ingmar Bergman.
I do not really understand why this movie has such appeal. Weeks or even months after the first viewing `the feel' of the movie repeatedly surfaced within me, and the wish to see it once more got stronger and stronger. After a second viewing my enthusiasm was confirmed and it still holds a special place in the spectrum of my inner experiences.
Some reviewer wrote that this movie `has tremendous depths if you are willing to go there'.
Consider to watch it alone in the middle of the night.
4.0 out of 5 stars "The Time When Most People Die"...,
This review is from: Hour Of The Wolf [DVD] (DVD)The quote in the film that I mention does lead onto other 'happenings', as Max von Sydow recounts the Hour in question - as he fumbles to light candles in the dark.
With such, it does sound like this film's going to be about werewolves and vampires and such, but this is all human, the area of darkness that Bergman often visited and probably no more so here than with any other film. It's like he's made a feature of all the ghostly and demonic thoughts and dreams he's ever had and stuffed them all into one movie.
Which is actually no bad thing but I would suggest that so many ripe and vivid nightmares make for a great chilling horror chiller and less his usual area of excellence, the study of human psyche and persona. At one point, our troubled artist with lots of history to block out describes being locked in a wardrobe as a child where a little monster that ate children's toes lived and from which he couldn't escape. Since watching Hour Of the first time round I read in an autobiography that Bergman's profound sense of doom and depression stemmed from being accidentally locked in a mortuary as a boy. My skin crawled in recognition of this scenario when von Sydow describes the story about the wardrobe....is there a lot more in Hour Of that's biographical?
Whichever way you want to take it, the beginning has more relationship and personal drama going on whilst from 45 mins on, when 'The Hour of the Wolf' is flashed up, it's hallucinatory hell, much really quite absurd but also really rather effective at being chilling and scary.
Liv Ullman, as the artist's wife, who discovers these dark secrets in his diaries is intense and excellent, as always, but I would still stand by saying that Hour Of isn't as deeply profound as some say - and possibly, if one tried to dissect it all too much, you'd be starting to experience some of those nightmares too!
My slimline DVD is part of the 4 disc The Ingmar Bergman Collection.
4.0 out of 5 stars Another fascinating dreamscape from Bergman,
This review is from: Hour Of The Wolf [DVD] (DVD)This left me confused about whether it's a great film or merely an extremely entertaining one. As surreal and
enigmatic as 'Persona', but with a lighter touch, more of a ghost story of a kind. However, it has the same
self-reflective acknowledgment that you're watching a film, scenes that leave you wondering what's real
and what's a dream, etc.
The themes don't seem as deep as "Persona", but that doesn't stop this from being deeply absorbing. It's still
brilliant filmmaking, full of breathtaking images. And I have the feeling it will grow on repeated viewings,
A wife recounts the very odd series of events leading to her unstable artist-husband's disappearance when
they stayed on an almost abandoned island.
Some of the smaller roles are intentionally - but I found annoyingly -played over the top.
No question that this film was a serious influence on David Lynch.
While the U.S. region 1 version of the same disc got generally better reviews for sharpness and image,
according to DVD Beaver (a great site for in depth reviews of DVDs technical merits), the early
versions of the U.S. MGM DVD were mistakenly released in 1:66, when the original aspect
ratio should have been 1:37. However, they later brought out a corrected version.
But you might keep that in mind if buying used.
A link to the article: [...]
4.0 out of 5 stars another descent into madness,
This review is from: Hour Of The Wolf [DVD] (DVD)I can't saw that there is anything that distinguishes this film amidst Bergman's exceptional legacy, indeed it is below average for him, which is to say it is worth a viewing.
It is the story of painter, told by his wife after his disappearance, who was retreating from the world farther and farther into himself. One of the things that is frightening about it is how his perceptions, first of apparent demons approaching him, merge into reality until most of the real people on their remote island appear inhuman. It is done with a spare scenario, wonderfully without glitzy effect, which emphasizes the starkness. His wife (Ullman) is wonderful as both a dependent woman and his principal buffer with reality. The supporting characters become increasingly predator, as does the disarray of his mind and the sudden, purposeless violence that erupts.
I guess I was disappointed because I was not drawn into the spell as deeply as I have been with his similarly themed films. Recommended, but rent it. There are far better Bergman films to buy.
1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A study of fear and persecution, tinged with horror.,
This review is from: Hour Of The Wolf [DVD] (DVD)How often do artists, as opposed to professionals, feature prominently in the work of Bergman fanatic Woody Allen? Far less often than with the great Swede, I think. Creative people and their problems are always treated seriously and respectfully by Bergman, and I couldn't help thinking that Johan's wife, were this an English-language film made today, would have a support group around her of girlfriends and gay pals, telling her not to put up with his moods and consider her own needs. How times change, eh?
From the first shot of the actress walking out of her cottage towards the camera, then sitting at a garden table, I had that uneasy sensation that this wasn't going to be another masterpiece. Well, maybe it is and the subject matter - artist's demons infect his wife's psyche - makes one unwilling to use the word masterpiece. No matter. The Hour Of The Wolf, referring to the darkest hour of the night, is a creepy movie about the vulnerability of genius and the suffocating effect of co-dependency, with a taciturn performance by Von Sydow to place alongside the small but more humorous turn provided by Woody Allen in Hannah And Her Sisters [DVD] . A study of fear comparable to Chekhov's The Black Monk, but ultimately dissatisfying and not to be exalted with Persona, Wild Strawberries, or Through A Glass Darkly. We never get to see any of Johan's drawings or paintings, so it's hard to really believe in his genius.
At time of writing, Amazon are selling it for under 3GBP, so it's well worth having for that price and always good to explore the lesser known Bergman. I'd be interested to know whether it in any way inspired Von Trier's Antikrist.
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Hour Of The Wolf [DVD] by Ingmar Bergman (DVD - 2004)