A Passion

Andreas Winkelmann (Max von Sydow) has parted from his wife and withdrawn from the world to live in solitude on a Baltic island. But he is without warning confronted with two kinds of violence: physical, in the shape of an unidentified maniac who slaughters sheep; and psychic, in the presence of Anna Fromm (Liv Ullmann), a crippled widow whose husband had also been named Andreas. The suspense of A Passion originates in this sinister ‘duplication’, the feeling that Andreas is being sucked inexorably along the same path to disaster as his namesake. The other engrossing theme of the film is more familiar to Bergman devotees: the probing beneath the mask that each person offers to the world. Gradually, and parallel to the stripping away of the lies and deceptions with which the characters defend themselves, the human potential for violence is revealed. A Passion provides a fascinating variation on some of the themes tackled in Shame. It also marks Bergman’s attempt to develop a more expressive use of colour, with greys, browns, greens and reds employed to heighten the audience’s apprehension of violence.
1969. English subtitles.
101 mins.

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