Steve G 🇵🇸 🇾🇪’s review published on Letterboxd:
I do take my Letterboxd reviewing pretty seriously. When I say that, I am aware that there may be a perception among some that I should presume that others do the same, but that really isn't the case!
I follow people on Letterboxd who do all manner of reviews and I admire the different styles and techniques of many people on here. But I never believed everyone should approach this the same way. Do it your way! That said, I do approach it all quite seriously even though the content of a lot of my reviews does tend towards the sarcastic and (notionally) comedic a lot of the time.
The reason for that is that this is the first consistent voluntary writing 'gig' that I have had for years. It happened by accident as I just started out arseing around with it, as I'm sure many others did, and as time progressed I realised I was getting more out of it than I realised. Along the way I have learned a lot about my writing and one of the main things I've learned is that it is far more of a struggle to talk about things I've admired and enjoyed than things that I had disliked.
I've talked about this a couple of times on here with people and I've been thinking about it a bit more after my viewing of Hour Of The Wolf. The reason for that is mainly because I really think I'm stumped on how to properly write about this film. I haven't come to any conclusions as to why this would be but I have been seeking the answer to one question that has been spinning around my mind - do I find it easier to write the more negative reviews because I am generally a more negative person?
That might sound like a downbeat question to ask but I don't think it has to be. Everyone's strengths lie somewhere, after all. I don't *think* that it is because of that reason, however. Looking at my ratings here on Letterboxd, the average I've given tends to hover around the 3.5 mark, which I think is quite generous. As such, a lot of the time I would be writing positive reviews and I can't think that I have struggled on that many occasions as much as I have been doing tonight. Maybe it's because I've written positive reviews so much that I am struggling to put yet another positive one into words?
Whatever the answer, and indeed the question, might be, I was glad of this viewing of Hour Of The Wolf as it caused me to think about my writing. I regard it as pretty important to think about my writing as I believe if I don't that I will become tired of it once again and lapse back into not writing at all. It's just a shame, though, that this review is mostly only a loose relation to the film I've just watched.
But I really am struggling with Hour Of The Wolf. Not because I didn't admire it. Not because I wasn't dazzled by yet another Liv Ullmann performance. And certainly not because I wasn't amazed by Ingmar Bergman's ability to dig deep into the human mind, pluck out insecurities that most humans would find impossible to put into words or pictures, and make them so very easy to understand and relate to.
It's really because this is filmmaking and cinematic philosophising that is on a higher level than I am able to reach and analyse. I admired it, I related to some of it, and I think I enjoyed it. If anything, it's made me realise that perhaps the growing band of ratings-less outlaws here on Letterboxd might be right! Their stance is perfect for films like this where a rating doesn't really seem to do a film justice or just seems impossible to get right.
What I find most interesting about Hour Of The Wolf was its musings on Max von Sydow's sleeplessness. This was terrifyingly accurate to me. For about 2 years between the ages of 18 and 20 I suffered terribly first with insomnia and then hypnophobia. Those long nights being terrified of nodding off and waiting for the hours to pass, with no-one else around or understanding of how you're feeling - Bergman gets that, unsurprisingly, absolutely perfect.
The quiet despair and desperation that von Sydow feels and that Ullmann feels for him is perhaps when Hour Of The Wolf is at its most effective. These scenes are less visual in what they are trying to achieve and for all of the extraordinary visual acumen that Bergman possessed, from what little I've seen of his work so far he seemed to be at his very best when using his characters as vessels to verbalise what he would like his audience to see, experience and imagine. Or, in this case, recognise in myself.
Thought provoking and brilliant filmmaking once again from Bergman, Hour Of The Wolf was certainly a viewing that I have ended up treasuring for some surprisingly varied reasons.