Intro to MOV (Film 1102-01)
Hour of the Wolf
The Hour of the Wolf, released in 1968, is a powerful, horror film directed by the late Ingmar Bergman. The film incorporates some of the more boldly, experimental techniques of the French and Italian cinemas. Bergman’s thematic style addresses the nature of human psychology, perception, and identity. Hour of the Wolf is a hallucinatory parable of the misery toll artistic creation can render. This statement could have been said to have truly reflect Ingmar troubles, and moreover, the source and inspiration for this highly personal film that retains autobiographical elements. This bizarre, but visually stunning allegory of a creative artist and his wife falling into the ever threatening grip is much more keen and intent, on a narrower scope, of some ailments that troubled Bergman (this compelling, ghostly tale showcases haunting demons that oppress the protagonist with varying aforementioned issues, as well as frightening bird imagery).
This peculiar horror story deals with Johan Borg (Max von Sydow) as he faces brutally excruciating perils on sought by different ghouls or inner demons. Johan and his wife, Alma Borg (Liv Ullmann), suffer from human isolation as arrive on a desolate shore to live on a lonely island. Johan’s prevailing set of obsessions with guilt, fear, and humiliation agitate him as a character and artist. His insomnia prevents him from sleeping during the hour of the wolf: the time between night and day. It is a threshold which belongs to neither the morning nor the evening. It is also the time when the line between sanity and insanity starts to blend and blur. It is a twisted dark journey into the mind of a man going mad, but also about the horror of witnessing some you love descend into madness. By the end, Max von Sydow’s descent is fantastically realized with some truly surreal sequences. Towards that end, Bergman’s stark, technical insight seduces the audience into Johan’s agonizing situation, as he haunts us with the sense of how hard it is to be a loving person in an unforgiving time.
The soundtrack is always clear and audible. The film commences with opening credits that detail the accounts of Johan, however, the audio features Ingmar speaking, mild construction noises, and directional cues. This intentional technique serves as a reminder that this is a film. But this method of audio structure prefaced in the film set forth an introduction of audio, and that is an important element that works continually as a vector to shape the natural world of the film, which is not natural at all, nor realistic, but compelling and bold. Bergman's extraordinary audio effects sound very strong; they tend to over modulate the loudness of the naturalistic diegetic noises and through this exemplification, the audio is dully noted.
It also serves to close the gap that would otherwise transpire quietly in the absences of dialogue and subsequently, altering the perceived images differently. In the scene where Johan is explaining the significance of the hour of the wolf to Alma, he obsessively stares at his pocket watch. He counts the seconds and dictates the passage of a minute to Alma. We hear nothing else except the clicking of the hands of the watch. It rhythmically carries the beat and pulse as the camera lingers on a close two shot of the main characters. Johan waits for the minute to end, and a rhythmic quality in the sound effect is introduced. The ticking of the minute is reverberating, and as soon as the minute is finished, the ticking utterly stops. The two breathe deep sighs, commence talking, and faintly, the ticking picks up and continues. The absence of movement is replaced with the dynamic interplay of audio and visual rhythms.
Through the constant manipulation of sound fidelity that seems unrealistic, the shift of attention orders the audience to what is narratively and visually important. Previously in the scene