Summer Under the Stars: Hour of the Wolf (1968)

Muse and Artist

Early on in Ingmar Bergman’s 1968 film Hour of the Wolf, painter Johan Borg (Max von Sydow) urges his pregnant wife, Alma (Liv Ullmann), to pose for him so that he can sketch her. He instructs her on how she should sit, how to arrange the robe she’s wearing, what to do with her hair. “If I patiently drew you, day after day…” he says as the scene fades to black. The artist and his muse — but their roles undergo something like a reversal once Johan vanishes and Alma is left to try to make sense of what happened, to share her perspective on the man with whom she lived for seven years. Perhaps she didn’t know him as well as she thought; perhaps, in a strange sense, she knew him too well.

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A Dream Made Flesh: The New Land (1972)

Karl Oskar and Kristina

It may be said that Jan Troell’s The Emigrants (1971) and The New Land (1972), based on a series of four novels by Vilhelm Moberg, are not so much two separate films as they are two halves of a single epic, running some six and a half hours in total. Valid as that is, however, the division is hardly an arbitrary one. Each movie has its own focus, its own purpose, complementary to those of its counterpart. The Emigrants deals with the birth of a dream; The New Land sees that dream made flesh, though the reality of it is far more complex than what was imagined beforehand.

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A Mother and a Daughter: Autumn Sonata (1978)

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“A mother and a daughter — what a terrible combination of feelings and confusion and destruction. Everything is possible and is done in the name of love and solicitude. The mother’s injuries are handed down to the daughter. The mother’s failures are paid for by the daughter. The mother’s unhappiness will be the daughter’s unhappiness. It’s as if the umbilical cord had never been cut.”

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