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Cries and Whispers (The Criterion Collection)

Harriet Andersson , Liv Ullmann , Ingmar Bergman    R (Restricted)   DVD
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (40 customer reviews)
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Product Description


Ingmar Bergman's great 1972 film is about the elemental things: death and dying, sex, injury, repression, and the body as a fount of sustenance. No wonder Bergman chooses to focus on female characters, in this case three sisters--one of whom is dying of tuberculosis--and a maid who is the only one capable of caring for the ill woman. The film is noteworthy for many reasons, not least of all an interesting camera style that marries beautiful imagery with an anxious frame. That tension perfectly suits the overlapping psychodramas of the piece, but this is a movie that ultimately pushes beyond the particulars of these characters' virtues or neuroses to a greater mystery, one that somehow sustains our existence while slowly taking it away. A landmark film. --Tom Keogh

Special Features

Criterion's anamorphic release of Cries & Whispers, presented in its original 1.66:1 aspect ratio, truly expresses this film's chromatic power. There are a few specks and scratches, but by and large it looks very sharp. The original Swedish Mono audio track has been re-mastered and sounds very clean. It is worth noting that since the audio is mostly dialog, the mono is not that detrimental. The English dubbed soundtrack is a close translation and a plus for those who want to fully concentrate on the visual beauty of this film. A nice extra is the rare 52 minute interview Bergman recorded in 1999. Bergman candidly discusses life, death, love, career paths and film techniques. You may be surprised to learn that Bergman is not as dark and introverted as often perceived. --Robert Bracco

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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Sounds That Haunt Us June 10 2004
Format:VHS Tape
"Cries and Whispers" was one of the first films from Ingmar Bergman I had seen. I was about 13 years old and was a strongly devoted fan. I had only seen the film that one time, but it stand with me. Only, I didn't think it was that powerful. Maybe my age had something to do with it. Could it be I was too young to appreciate it? I enjoyed the previous films I had seen at that point though such as "Wild Strawberries" and "The Seventh Seal".
Well, whatever the reason I saw this film again. Now I'm 21. And I think "Cries and Whispers" is one of Bergman's very best films. A memorable and powerful film. A sheer work of genius.
I read Roger Ebert's review for the movie. He said he had never seen a film to be so much about pain.
Maybe that is true. I hadn't thought of that the first time I saw this masterpiece, but now I understand.
Bergman paints such a bleak, depressing picture here, that you could call this film typical Bergman. Even though it my be a depressing film, you should still see this.
The story has three sisters, one is dying. She is played by Harriet Andersson, who gives what I feel is the film's best performance. The other sisters include Maria (Liv Ullman) who is almost childlike. She seems so innocent. Then there is Karin (Ingrid Thulin) who is cold-hearted. And even though she is not one of the sisters Anna (Kari Sylwan) who is a mother figure. She is the only one who truly cares for Agnes (Andersson).
Bergman than has these characters reflecting on moments from the past, and thus the "cries and whispers" those moments bring. Some are truly terrible memories these characters live with. A scene involving Karin and her husband comes to mind.
Are these people trying to learn from their mistakes? Do they regret their past choices?
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3.0 out of 5 stars a shocking and haunting film June 21 2004
By Ted
This review is for the Criterion Collection DVD edition of the film.
This film, with the original title, "Viskningar och rop", remains one of the most chilling art house dramas to come out of Sweden.
The story is about two women Karin and Maria who have moved in with their terminally ill sister, Agnes to help care for her.
While the disease Agnes is dying from is never mentioned by name, seems to be a form of cancer as many other terminal illnesses of the time were contagious and the sisters and the maid don't seem to be worry about being infected.
The film shows flashbacks of the sisters when they were all healthy and some others also. The film is definately not for children as there are many scenes that even some adults might not be able to watch. One of these scenes is sexual in nature and involves self-mutilation with a piece of broken glass.
There is also a disturbing death scene and several others related to terminal illnesses
The Criterion DVD has an interview with director Ingmar Bergman as a special feature and there is also an optional English language track.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Viskningar och Rop March 9 2004
Agnes is dying of cancer at the end of what one imagines to be late 19th Century, and is taken care of by her sisters Karin (Ingrid Thulin) and Maria (Liv Ullman), and the maid Anna (Kari Sylwan). This is one of the purest and most horrifying films I believe Bergman has ever made. A shade of the color red dominates throughout the film, and brings an immediate and naturally convincing mood. All actors contribute with a powerful and chilling intensity, especially actress Harriet Andersson--whose pain as Agnes is very believable, even enchanting--and are more than well supported by the amazing camera work of Sven Nykvist. To prove that this is the work of a brilliant, highly skilled director, and professional actors and crew, the movie was shot on location in only six weeks!
The Criterion disc features a 52-minute interview with Ingmar Bergman and Erland Josephson (who appears briefly in the movie), taped for Swedish television in 2000. Interviewed by Malou von Sivers, Bergman and Josephson discuss life, death, and love. Bergman, here at age 82, proves to be a down-to-earth and young-at-heart guy. The sound in the interview (surprisingly enough for a Criterion disc), distorts a bit, and can be quite distracting at times, but is not so bothersome that one wouldn't want to continue listening to what these masters of film and cinema have to say (even if the topics barely touch upon their work and careers).
Optional subtitles, as well as an English-dubbed soundtrack are available. The dubbing is surprisingly accurate to the picture, and is done by the actors featured in the movie. At times this accuracy may convince you that the movie was made in English. Still (despite this stunning surprise), I would suggest watching this in Swedish, as intended - at least the first time around.
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5.0 out of 5 stars One of the best by the one of the best... Aug. 29 2003
By A Customer
Although I am usually strongly opposed to Top Ten, Best of the Year, and All-Time-Favorite lists in film, music, and literature (Hear that, Modern Library?! Just because you're so hot on the works of James Joyce doesn't mean everyone else thinks they're worth the paper they're printed on--but I digress...), I'll make an exception in the case of Cries and Whispers, which has earned every one of its superlatives and acclaims. Along with Persona, it reflects a more adventurous side of the somewhat conservative director Ingmar Bergman--and both films are stunning successes.
The ostensible narrative is as follows: Two sisters, Karin and Maria, return to their family estate to keep vigil over their dying sister Agnes. While the two are quite capable and willing--out of duty, perhaps--to attend to Agnes' physical needs, they find themselves ill-equipped to console her or to offer her the emotional support that the quiet, simple household servant Anna devotedly provides. Through their particularly harrowing encounter with Agnes' death--and by inference, of course, with their own--the three survivors are forced to confront their memories, fantasies, and most repressed feelings toward one another.
Apart from the largely linear main narrative, three segments of the film are demarcated from the rest by red-hued shots of the faces of Maria, Karin, and Anna, respectively, each staring forward, engaged in the act of remembering and imagining. Between these establishing shots, we enter three ambiguous dream-like settings from each of these women's points-of-view. Each of these three scenarios appears to be a composite, to varying degrees, of actual and imagined events, the latter seemingly motivated by--or a projection of--the repressed feelings of the particular woman.
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Among Bergman's Masterpieces
Among the greatest of Bergman's works, this film fully marries mind, heart and soul.

Intensely beautiful to look at, with red - the color of blood, of death, of passion... Read more
Published on May 5 2012 by K. Gordon
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the top films of Ingmar Berman!
This film is bitter . And merciless . It challenges and disturbs you deeply . FIlmed in the purest mood of resources economy , the film tells about Agnes , a dying middle aged... Read more
Published on July 12 2004 by Hiram Gomez Pardo
5.0 out of 5 stars A Stunning Achievement
Cries and Whispers is an intense mediation on life, death, and how we squander our brief lives by succumbing to our inner demons. Read more
Published on Aug. 26 2003 by Jack M. Walter
1.0 out of 5 stars You'll wish YOU had a terminal disease.
Watch the interview with Bergman and his red-headed friend, whats-his-name, to get an idea of how big a jerk this guy is. Read more
Published on Aug. 11 2003 by Stephen B. Hughes
5.0 out of 5 stars Haunting
I first saw this film when it was released in 1972. Everyone on campus was excited--a new Bergman film was an event in the arts community there. Read more
Published on Feb. 1 2003 by Joanna Daneman
5.0 out of 5 stars Unbelievable!
I recently purchased the Criterion Collection edition of Ingmar Bergman's 1972 masterpiece Cries and Whispers. Read more
Published on Jan. 29 2003 by Niloofar Ziae
5.0 out of 5 stars An Extremely Memorable Film Experience
There are two things that will always stand out to me about this film, which stands amongt the first rank of Ingmar Bergman's monumental body of work. Read more
Published on Jan. 19 2003 by Snow Leopard
5.0 out of 5 stars One of Bergman's Most Memorable Films
Upon its release CRIES AND WHISPERS was hailed as one of Bergman's finest films. Although it has not quite held onto that original evaluation, it remains a very fine film--a... Read more
Published on Nov. 2 2002 by Gary F. Taylor
5.0 out of 5 stars FADE TO RED
I don't know whether it's the same for you but I used to hear above all the cries when I was watching Bergman's CRIES AND WHISPERS. Read more
Published on Sept. 27 2002 by Daniel S.
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