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Torment [1944] [DVD]

4.7 out of 5 stars 3 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Actors: Stig Jarrell, Alf Kjellin, Mai Zetterling, Olof Winnerstrand, Gosta Bjorne
  • Directors: Alf Sjoberg
  • Producers: Harald Molander, Victor Sjostrom
  • Format: PAL
  • Language: Swedish
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: All Regions
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Classification: 15
  • Studio: Tartan
  • DVD Release Date: 6 Dec. 2004
  • Run Time: 101 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0006A9780
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 126,653 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)
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Product description

Marking Ingmar Bergman's debut as screenwriter and directed by Alf Sjöberg, this expressionistic crime of passion revolves around a young student, Jan-Erik (Alf Kjellin), his sadistic Latin teacher, nicknamed 'Caligula' (Stig Järrel), and a newsagent assistant-cum-prostitute, Bertha (Mai Zetterling). When Jan-Erik assists the drunken Bertha, he becomes her lover. Bertha is, however, terrified of another man, whom it becomes clear is terrorising her. When Jan-Erik finds Bertha dead, he accuses Caligula of being responsible. The themes of creaticity, mentors and oppressive authority, which would become Bergman's trademarks, are staked out in this semi-autobiographical work.

Customer Reviews

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Format: DVD
"Torment" is an absorbing film based around an unlikely love triangle between a mild mannered and earnest schoolboy,Jan Erik, his Latin teacher and a depressive lush of a tobacconists shop assistant. The Latin teacher is a bit of a misanthropic bully and he is like a cross between Himmler and Mr Bronson from "Grange Hill". His bark is worse than his bite; maybe. The monochrome film is shot impressively and acted well by all of the main characters involved . The love triangle ends in tragedy and classroom tensions spill over into the family and social life of Jan Erik. "Torment" is well paced , well acted and the picture and sound quality are excellent too.
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A must for all avid Berman fans - of which I am one. Every one of his films (with perhaps the exception of the dreadful Serpent's Egg) has something to offer. For me, it's Bergman's realistic view of the world as a mess; the torment of people's inner world, mirrored often (but not always) by their outer world. He really gets to the heart of what ails us as human beings. As one of the characters in Torment says: "Wait, you'll see how rotten everything is. It's truly ingenious". Strangely, I don't find his films depressing at all - because they are about real life in all its horror, they are refreshing to watch and leave you feeling "clean" and less alone in the world. "Torment" is no exception.
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The story is tragic yet leaves you feeling good at the end! It's set in a school and has a nasty teacher character. The desire to see this bad guy come to a bad end, for me, overshadows the tragic love story that is simultaneously being played alongside this, i.e., love triangle between pupil, nasty teacher and tobaccanist girl. What happens at the end?......... It's not what I thought or hoped for.......it's a positive film made by a Swedish culture of embracing depression!
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta) (May include reviews from Early Reviewer Rewards Program)

Amazon.com: 3.7 out of 5 stars 3 reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Bergman learns a lesson 1 Sept. 2008
By Kerry Walters - Published on Amazon.com
Bergman began writing scripts for Svensk Filmindustri in 1943, when he was 24. In October 1944, his first full script, directed by the legendary Alf Sjoberg, was filmed as "Torment." The film was one of six made that year in honor of SF's 25th anniversary, but it was the only one that attracted critical attention. Nonetheless, the film is flawed.

As he tells us in his autobiographical Images, "Torment" started out as "an obsessive, anger-filled story about the torments of school and youth." Like all of Bergman's work, the story was pretty confessional and dark. The ending in Bergman's original script has all the students except the main character passing their final exams. The failed student walks out of the school into the rain, with his tormenter, the schoolteacher nicknamed Caligula, standing at a window watching him. Even at this early stage of his career, Bergman was leaving audiences with ambiguous endings, refusing to tie up his films in artificially neat packages.

But SF honchos felt this ending was too depressing, so they changed it to the happier ending that's in the film. They also transformed the Caligula character into an insecure and haunted crypto-Nazi, something Bergman hadn't intended. But this re-envisioning of Caligula, and Stig Jarrel's masterful performance, doesn't mar the film. Nor does Sjoberg's fantastic expressionist camera work.

Still, the experience taught Bergman a valuable lesson: artistic integrity in the film industry meant that the film maker wrote and directed his own stuff, and that he resisted becoming financially dependent on studios. In the years to come, Bergman would write nearly two-thirds of the films he directed, and he only rarely got tied up with big-money producers.
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars AKA Hets 19 Feb. 2001
By Peter Shelley - Published on Amazon.com
Format: VHS Tape
This feature is notable as the first screenplay written by Ingmar Bergman. It's only a pity that the direction by Alf Sjoberg is so plodding. It's easy to read the hero as Ingmar, a sensitive student played by Alf Kjellin who writes and plays the violin (he's creative) and is misunderstood by his parents. We see him singled out by the sadistic Latin master affectionately known as "Caligula" (his real name is never given) who teaches by intimidation and carries a stick in class. When Alf befriends the girl in the cigar store, Mai Zetterling, we can predict that she is also Caligula's "lover". It's probably because Mai is so tortured that Alf is attracted to her. The screenplay brands her of "questionable reputation" and only Alf is able to see beyond this shaming judgment. And we know she has a good heart since she lives with a kitten. The kitten reveals character. Caligula holds it as he tells the story of a cat he drowned, it's claws having to be surgically removed from him, while Alf plays with it when Mai attempts a seduction. The story of the drowned cat is a gothic Bergman touch in a screenplay which provides some enjoyable comaraderie between the schoolboys, a dream sequence, and a surprising depth for the latin master. Caligula is both terrifying (is it a coincidence that he is made to resemble a Nazi?) and pitiful, yet still unlikeable. I particularly liked how he comes back to Alf with a coded threat, after he is warned by another school master. There are 2 unnecessary and melodramatic exisential comments - "Why did this have to happen to me?" and "How could you?" which betray Bergman as a fledgling writer, but also a delay in Mai telling Alf of her victimisation by Caligula, and even when she does speak of it, her details are unexpectedly non-specific. The school itself is as big as a museum, and Sjoberg gives us images of the large population running up and down levels. And Alf's family reside in an affluent looking apartment. Bergman doesn't tell us much about them, but their conversatism is established for Alf to react against. Sjoberg must be congratulated for not making Caligula's torment of Mai like a horror movie - if anything the horror is implied rather than shown - and the class scenes of students pressured to recite latin come across as far more stressful. Sjoberg doesn't utilise the close-ups Bergman would later employ, which therefore distances us from the characters, and one can overlook the seemingly advanced age of the schoolboys if one considers how they grow em big in Sweden. Note Bergman's own voice as a radio announcer.
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good, but can't live up to expectations. 12 Feb. 2002
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: VHS Tape
When I first saw this movie, it was labeled "INGMAR BERGMAN'S TORMENT," marked all over as "His directorial debut!" To be fair, this movie is an Alf Sjoberg work, and you can tell right from the opening scenes. To see Bergman's "directorial debut," you can catch the last 30 seconds or so, when an absentee Sjoberg handed over the reigns to the ambitious, if callow, Bergman. How much of this work deserves Bergman's name? The screenplay, though that was altered by Sjoberg too, and thats about it.
Its a shame that this work has been so over-publicized. Ostensibly, it couldn't be a more auspicious project: a collaboration of two of Sweden's greatest film-makers (we can lament the fact that Sjoberg's fame has so faded over time, for he really was a talented film-maker). Unfortunately, it can be written off as an opportunity missed. The film was being made for Svenski Film's anniversary and seems to have been somewhat hastily, maybe dispassionately, put together. This isn't Sjoberg's best work by a long shot, even for its few gem moments. The writing is harmlessly mediocre; an angst-ridden story about a tortured student intellectual. Clearly its a film Bergman must regret, for the brilliance of his later writing is little evident. It has a flavor of Bergman, but the most immature of all of his writing.
The plot centers around a young woman who keeps two lovers: one, the chief protagonist, a bright young student full of youthful idealism: the other one of his instructors, whom we only know as Caligula -- a lonely old man who lashes out and torments every human who he comes in contact with. Eventually, and predictably, the two come into conflict.
Torment is not a bad film by any measure, but one can't help but be disappointed by it. It should be of some interest to both Sjoberg and Bergman fans. Mild recommendation.
3 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars an essential, though far from perfect, viewing 4 Jun. 2007
By DL Nels - Published on Amazon.com
The new eclipse series by the Criterion Collection is great for bringing cinephiles everywhere the opportunity to see films like this. The film is not perfect nor does it entirely submerge the viewer, but for a real fan of cinema, or more particularly Bergman, you can ask for nothing more. The film reveals Bergman's roots, it has his signature dark, brooding characters and themes, desolate landscapes, if not, at times, his own imagistic stamp.

The story, however, is maybe the engaging side of mediocrity. The film draws you into the downward spiral of the main characters (the central focus of the story) without making the world seem hopeless and desolate. But it doesn't reach the pre-poop-your-pants euphoria it seems to promise. It's almost there, but doesn't realy ever clinch it.

The spiral of these characters is hidden within the world of the film. The torment, is silent, removed, intricate. The film is not what I expected from the early Bergman collection, and is not perfect, but is well worth the rent, for it's politics of the body, insight into Bergman's work and a subtle story that shames American suspense's absurdity, it's over-the-top plot structures, and its star driven sales. It's real, dark, flawed yet engaging. Worth a viewing or two.
0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Torment 14 Sept. 2007
By MMM - Published on Amazon.com
Having read about it before watching it, I expected it to be different, but it's a good film anyway. Considering the time period it was created and the fact that it's his first movie, Bergman did a very good job. A small dose of melodrama and a touch of sinister suspense don't spoil it.
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