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The Serpent's Egg (Sous-titres français) [Import]
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An out of work American circus performer slowly goes mad in 1920s Berlin while working for a mysterious clinic that holds the secret to his brother's suicide.
Genre: Feature Film-Drama
Release Date: 10-FEB-2004
Media Type: DVD
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Top Customer Reviews
The main character is Abel Rosenberg (David Carradine), an American circus artist who is stranded in Berlin along with his brother Max and Max's former wife Manuela (Liv Ullman), due to an injury that rendered Max unable to perform their trapeze act. Things deteriorate as they run out of money, as the general situation for all those living in Germany worsens too. It is the 1920's, and the whole country suffered from inflation, unemployment, and periodic outbursts of Anti-Jewish sentiment. Berlin wasn't a good place to live for anybody at that time, but the situation for the Rosenbergs was even worse, because they were poor, unemployed, Jewish and foreigners.
"The serpent's egg" (1977) begins with Max committing suicide, as an act of utmost desperation. After that, Abel is left with Manuela as his only ally in a place that steadily becomes fulls of omens presaging misfortune. To endure the mere fact of being alive when his brother is not, Abel gets drunk every day. The irreality that alcohol offers offers him is the only way of fighting fear, fear of what is happening in Berlin, and of what he sees looming in the horizon. In Abel's words, "I wake up from a nightmare, and find that real life is worse than the dream".Read more ›
Some people may not realize that when Bergman chose Carradine to star in THE SERPENT'S EGG he was fresh off the success of tv's KUNG FU and had 35 state plays, two tv series, and numerous starring and leading roles in movies under his belt. He was nominated for the Academy Award for his role as Woody Guthrie in BOUND FOR GLORY (1976). While researching Carradine's movies, over and over again I read the phrase, "Who would have thought that David Carradine could turn in such an excellent performance?" Yet he does, time and time again, and has moved under the radar of public and critical attention for over 25 years.
As Carradine says in his commentary, it's a hard movie to watch twice, yet I was fascinated by his insight into the production, Bergman's style and methods, and the plot. THE SERPENT'S EGG is a mixture of 1920's style German expressionism, human despair, psychothriller, political commentary, and science fiction. It tackles the subject of proto-Nazi human experimentation in a world where the government controls every detail of a man's life. When the opening scene involves a man discovering his brother's suicide, you know you're in for a bumpy ride.
I found the commentary sparing and insightful. I hate those commentary tracks where actors and others talk, talk, talk but say very little. It was refreshing that when he had nothing to add, Carradine was quiet and let the movie speak for itself.
The DVD Savant says of the commentary, "A relaxed and friendly David Carradine provides an informative commentary.Read more ›
It'd be hard to reduce this film to a concise intellectual statement. The traditional Bergman themes of a distant God, indifferent Man, and a foundationless destructive nature in man and community, are all represented. But beyond that, Bergman doesn't add new dynamics. I think this is because the aim of this film was different than his others -- he was trying to capture the essence of his dream, a feeling, not a statement. The problems with the presentation arise because Bergman throws in too much context, historical foreshadowing, and an awkward plot resolution.Read more ›
Most recent customer reviews
While not a masterpiece, this is also far from the mess most critics took it for. An intelligent failure (or modest success)
Bergman looks at Germany in the 20s as laying the... Read more
Bergman most undenrrated film. This is a great film. Perhaps it doesn't look like an Ingmar Bergman film,and maybe never feels like one. Read morePublished on May 24 2004