Shame – Ingmar Bergman (1968)


Shame (1968) is one of the great neglected films from Ingmar Bergman’s midcareer creative explosion. … In Shame, a powerfully realistic vision of an imagined civil war, the filmmaker’s collaboration with his actors turns even more confident and fluid, and his celebrated enigmatic close-ups become unselfconscious and limpid—emotionally transparent. As the sixties neared their end, even Bergman, the screen’s foremost investigator of private life, intimate behavior, and postreligious faith, felt the need to make a statement on that turbulent decade and the legacy of World War II. His vision of how sadism and paranoia fuel martial conflicts and spread from society’s fringes into middle-class living rooms (and bedrooms) permeates Shame, the only Bergman film that could be called primarily political or antiwar. The relentless, Kafkaesque backdrop of a never-ending war puts a troubled marriage into stark relief, dramatizing the end of fellow feeling and the dehumanization of death. It reflects the social and political upheaval of its time in ways that are still joltingly pertinent fifty years later. Bergman’s impulse to create the film was clear and concrete. As he told the editors of the Swedish film journal Chaplin, it originated in a question: ‘What sort of a situation is needed to turn us from good social democrats into active Nazis?’ He latched on to documentary images of an aging Vietnamese couple—an old woman hanging on to their ‘half-starved cow’ as it gallops away from a U.S. military helicopter, her husband fighting back tears as he sees her and the animal disappear in a cloud of dust. Then he fused these inspirations. In Shame, Bergman scrapes the polite liberal veneer off postwar European life and puts Scandinavian islanders in the position of a colonized people. The film takes place in the near future (the early seventies). Eva and Jan Rosenberg (Ullmann and von Sydow), former classical violinists, have moved to a remote island to escape the civil war ravaging their unnamed country. …”
Criterion – Shame: Twilight of the Humans
W – Shame (1968 film)
senses of cinema
Criterion (Video)

About 1960s: Days of Rage

Bill Davis - 1960s: Days of Rage
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