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Shame [DVD]
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22 of 22 people found the following review helpful
on 16 June 2004
I saw this film only once, 33 years ago. I have been waiting ever since for a second opportunity – and now at last Shame is becoming available on DVD (in August 2004). Even if, as the previous reviewer warns may be the case, the film is presented in the wrong aspect ratio, I urge you to watch Shame. It is a most haunting, moving and unsettling portrayal of individuals caught up in the inexplicable terrors of the modern world (specifically a civil war in an unnamed country). I have never forgotten this film and doubt that you will either.
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24 of 25 people found the following review helpful
on 8 June 2004
Shame, just like Hour of The Wolf, that's going to be released on DVD in Europe on August 2, are Ingmar Bergman classics that should not be missed by anyone who has enjoyed others of his films. Shame, or "The Shame" as the Swedish title suggests, was filmed in the fall of 1967, featuring Bergman's long time partisans Liv Ullmann (her third Bergman film,) Max Von Sydow, and Gunnar Björnstrand. Shame tells the story of two artists - Eva (LU) and Jan (MVS) - a married couple who lives in fear on an island during War. The movie is unforgettable, incomparable, and should be very accessible to any admirer of director Bergman, cinematographer Nykvist, or actors Ullmann, Von Sydow, and Björnstrand. For those familiar with the cast and crew from before this movie will be a great treat, UNLESS...unless the movie, just like MGM's American DVD edition of the film, will be presented in the wrong aspect ratio; MGM's region 1 releases of Shame, Hour of the Wolf, and Persona were all released on DVD in AR 1.33:1, NOT 1:37:1, which are the correct AR's for these movies. This technical mumbo jumbo means that, on the region 1 releases, 11.5 percentage of the image is missing throughout the film (a slap in the face especially for Sven Nykvist, one would imagine.) Keep your fingers crossed for the European releases of Shame and Hour of the Wolf, just like Persona, to be presented in 1.37:1.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
I've seen three Bergman's from the MGM stable and this is by far the best. Jan and Eva are living a happy married life on an island; former musicians from a philharmonic orchestra, they've turned to farming and left behind their former life on the now war-torn mainland. When the conflict spreads to the island, they fall into the clutches of first one and then the other side. The terror puts an immense strain on their marrriage: the world as they know it burnt out.

Shame doesn't go to great extremes, not seeking to glamourise the fighting or sensationalize the suffering. There is an impressive recreation of the noise, explosions and frenzy you'd anticipate. The abrupt change from peace to war kickstarts a gradual transformation of the couple and of Jan in particular; terrified by the violence and browbeaten by his wife, finally he becomes a new but primal kind of male - ruthless and hard. Eva's resentments boil up to the surface as she's buffeted by soldiers on either side and eventally exploited by an old friend made powerful by the chaos.

Can their love survive the horror, even if they don't? The film is under two hours but by the end you'll feel part of an amazing journey. The DVD's menu is spartan but functional.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
#1 HALL OF FAMEon 14 April 2007
'Shame', due to the production, is not one of those many Bergman classics that have been put out by Tartan on VHS and DVD in the 90s and zeroes, and as such has become a bit forgotten. William Goldman's excellent book 'Which Lie Did I Tell?' (the companion to the classic 'Adventures in the Screen Trade') mentioned this and Bergman's most well known work 'The Seventh Seal,' and as such I wanted to see it - though it wasn't released on DVD in 2004, and then with not much comment from reviewers.

A recent article on Bergman, to tie in with the epic box-set just released, quite reasonably pointed out that certain elements and themes were being repeated and wondered if much post-Cries and Whispers really was that necessary (Fanny and Alexander and Scenee from a Marriage for sure). Failures like Life of Marionettes and The Serpent's Egg pale when you have seen Bergman's previous work, while the recent Saraband divided people hugely.

'Shame' is perhaps one of Bergman's greatest works, feeling as alien and surreal as 'Persona' while having the apocalyptic feel of 'The Seventh Seal.' The story appears heavily indebted to Kafka, set in a remote island in an unnamed country as a civil war rages - married couple Jan (Max Von Sydow) and Eva (Liv Ullmann) are living an idealised pastoral life living on a farm (Bergman's The Good Life? - not quite). We watch them wake up, get dressed, have breakfast, Jan moan about his teeth, and maybe some pleasure from a bottle of wine...

It's all in the brilliant credit sequence, the typically stark black and white credits that Woody Allen borrowed from poorly, as the sound flits between news broadcasts and the sounds of war, sinister static and signals detuning. Preceding the domestic state of the couple, it's clear that something will happen, and the apolitical couple attempting to create their own utopia will be effected by the war.

'Shame' quickly turns into a surreal war film, as bombs and bullets rain down on the island, Eva and Jan caught in this conflict. Houses on fire, dead bodies, dead children, tanks, broken bridges...all the signs of war - though with the conflict anonymous, in some ways 'Shame' feels more universal. This could be the Balkans, this could be Iraq, this could be Byelorrussia, this could be a scene from 'The Red and the White' (though as a film it feels like a relative of 'The Round Up'), Central America, an African State...

Like many people in the 20th Century, the married couple might want to live in their own idyll, but sadly they can't prevent the imposition of war anymore than the characters in 'The Seventh Seal' can prevent death. This is the nightmare of the 20th Century and war made into a hypnotic film brilliantly shot by the legendary Sven Nykvist.

Elements like the way the invading army use cameras to film propaganda, or the sinister interrogation, or visit from Gunnar Bjornstrand's character are psychologically disturbing and very relevant now. The scene where Jan has to kill and their home is burnt down as their animals are slaughtered is unforgettable and feels like a predecessor of several scenes in Klimov's brilliant 'Come and See.' A scene where Jan overpowers and kills a boy soldier is extremely powerful, people wonder why people do what they do in the Balkans or Iraq, wonder no more. The final sequence of the beach, sea and boat is unforgettable, the sea in a way a sort of River Styx sucking everyone down to the underworld.

'Shame' is definitely one of the greatest Bergman films I've seen and one that I'd consider alongside such works as 'Cries and Whispers', 'Persona', 'The Seventh Seal', 'The Virgin Spring', and 'Wild Strawberries.' I guess it relates to the couple-themed works 'The Hour of the Wolf' and 'The Passion of Anna' ('The Serpent's Egg' was much later), the former I've found even more harrowing, feeling a headache coming down and I've yet to see 'The Passion...' 'Shame' is one of the Bergman works that everyone should see, while joining a list of war films that are very far from the stock American-British WWII style works, films like 'The Burmese Harp', 'Come and See', 'Paisa' and 'The Red and the White.' 'Skammen' is a budget price slice of brilliance that is more than worthy of the sticker on the box declaring it "a masterpiece."
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on 29 September 2007
We find ourselves on an anonymous island belonging to an anonymous country which is at war with an unknown enemy. A married couple, both musicians, have fled here and live in a single story, wooden house. Their radio is unreliable, as is their car. The couple (Eva - Liv Ullmann and Jan - Max von Sydow) have a rocky marriage, their conversation alternating between bitter carping and attempted reconciliation. All the same, they seem to tolerate each other on the whole and many marriages are like this.

The war is distant but casts a paralysing restraint on their lives. Their interaction with other people, when they see them, is minimal. Eva talks to a fisherman but Jan remains aloof in his vehicle. Eva's conversation is drowned out by water from a sluice.

The enemy attack their area with jets and they find a dead paratrooper in a tree. A small force of enemy soldiers get Eva to record a TV interview.

The couple flee, hoping to find protection at the nearest town. Instead they are arrested and accused to collaboration. The TV interview with Eva has been dubbed. They are then seen by Colonel Jacobi (Gunnar Björnstrand), a rather creepy character who walks with a black stick. He tells them they are free to go and just wanted to make an example of them.
The colonel becomes a frequent visitor to their house because he has fallen in love with Eva. He barely attempts to conceal his feelings from Jan.

From this point on, horror piles on horror. This runs in parallel with the moral degeneration of Jan and Eva's attempts to fight it but she is finally resigned to it. Jan is always the selfish whinger and Eva the stronger and more decent of the two, but their deprivations render him a moral husk.

One of the most powerful elements in the film is the unknown and hardly seen war and its accompanying repression at home. The colonel tells them at one point that he could have sent them to a concentration camp, so there is no reason to think the two live in a liberal democracy. Perhaps that is the enemy. The war lies like a shroud over the island where no one laughs or has a cup of tea and a cream cake. The feeling of disorientation is increased by the minimal use of place names and even Eva's former orchestra is the Philharmonic Orchestra which could be based anywhere - or nowhere. Human communication sputters out like the outboard engine of the boat in the final sequence, a sequence of horror and terrible sadness.

This is a masterly film shows again Bergman's preoccupation with human communication, or lack of it. It is not devoid of humour in the first half but one cannot deny it is bleak. Nevertheless, I was gripped throughout and would recommend this film.
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Dubbed a masterpiece by almost every critic I respect. I certainly thought this was a brilliantly
well made film, but one that didn't quite give me the kind of devastating emotional effect
experienced by so many.

In fact, going in knowing little about the film (I try to avoid reviews before I see a film),
part of what I liked about it must seem like sacrilege to most, who see the film as
completely, unbearably bleak. I may be insane, but I actually found a good portion of it
powerfully, blackly funny, in a sort of 'Dr. Strangelove', Roy Andersson, dryly Scandanavian
sort of way.

The surreal insanity of the behavior of the soldiers and officials around our normal
working-class couple seemed so exaggerated, almost Keystone Cops with guns, that
it DID seem effectively anti-war, but not in the way seen by those who cite it's unrelieved
depression and misery as being where the film gets its power.

That said, it certainly seemed to grow ever more 'real', and by the end felt truly dramatic
and haunting.

I wonder how I could so misread Bergman's intentions. Certainly, if we're supposed to take
the early to middle completely seriously and literally the film would work much less well for
me than it did, since the horrors these people are exposed to on a literal level seem like
nothing compared to the victims of 'real world' wars, where they probably would have been
dead very quickly.

Take this for what it probably is - an odd outlier opinion, and one that may be replaced when
I see the film again, which I look forward to. But then, hopefully the occasional outlier can
supply a useful alternate point of view.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
This fairly early Bergman is satisfyingly intense and traumatic and unforgettable. yet it is very rarely spoken of or advertised in the list of Bergman best films.I've never seen Liv Ullman play better(exc. Persona).The war scenario smashes into a husband and wife's cosy relationship on an island-like setting exposing like a hurricane it's threadbare nature.Max von Sydow's character seems really cruel: being indirectly responsible for one man's death by witholding money from some enemy troops, also taking a young man off and shooting him. Shame comes out of the ground like oil when this couple become tested to destruction. A marvel how it connects the intimate with the world outside.
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5 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on 26 May 2009
Perchè nella descrizione non scrivete che il dvd ha anche la traccia audio italiana?
Grazie alla MGM inglese per aver pubblicato questi titoli di Bergman (L'ORA DEL LUPO, PASSIONE, LA VERGOGNA e L'UOVO DEL SERPENTE) con la traccia italiana (se aspettiamo i distributori italiani, stiamo freschi).
Audio e video buoni, nessun extra.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful

This is the second time that I've watched my DVD of 'Shame', which is part of the 4 disc The Ingmar Bergman Collection, which features his later work for MGM.

It seems much has been written, here, both about the director and the film, which I find a little less of a masterpiece and more of an oddity than some others. I've seen many Bergman's since my last viewing and even more other excellent world cinema films.

We have an unknown enemy, in an unknown war, all the fighting is with a few machine guns, some hand grenades and a handful of planes. That's intentional, of course, as well as cheap and gets out of having to explain anything about it. It is principly a study of human emotion and relationships, of which Bergman is the undisputed master. A young-ish, fertile Liv Ullmann and her older, rather cantankerous husband, Max von Sydow, both Bergman regulars, trying to scratch out a living after semi-retiring from playing with orchestras.

As the alienating, disorientating scenes slowly escalate, made all the more personal by them being so ordinary and real, shot in a busy but efficient style (at least for Bergman) and in black & white, not colour, which would have seemed the norm for 1968, for most. As they get arrested on a trumped-up charge, released but only as a means to an end (the corrupt colonel wants to bed Ullmann), the ransacking of their property and to their final escape, it's all a real, living nightmare.

But, was this more a personal nightmare for Bergman? This film is so different for him and involves a lot more action than any of his I can think of. In a couple of scenes, filming is shown - one when someone says 'keep filming' when a prisoner is beaten and another at a firing squad where there are arc lights illuminating the poor subject. Does this mean anything? We are also in the thick of the Cold War and it's commonly known that Bergman spent his last years almost a hermit on an isolated Scandinavian island. Any connection with this anonymous location made faceless by Bergman's intention to provide no details about the conflict itself?

The ending, is harrowing, of course, a scene which is akin to someone trying desperately to get their craft up through a frozen river, not bodies.

Most people know immediately of The Seventh Seal, a few might get to Persona and Wild Strawberries and beyond that, less and less folk. When it comes down to oddities such as Shame, one is in very specialised territory and to be honest, I can see why.
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0 of 15 people found the following review helpful
on 19 February 2012
This item is probably OK if you like reading the Sub -titles while watching the film. Personally I find this quite distracting. I watched about 2 minutes of the film before ejecting and throwing it in the bin. I suppose I could always take up a foreign language. Not one of my better buys.
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