Hour of the Wolf

Hour of the Wolf ★★★½



While Nietzsche's demon propels it's hosts towards an Eternal Recurrence, insists them on thinking about what if we all have to repeat ourselves, repeat our every bit of sorrow, despair, pain and happiness as our existence must recur an infinite number of times in course of living inside an infinitely eternal vessel of space and time whereas Morton's demon stands at the gateway of a person's senses and lets in facts that agree with that person's prior beliefs while deflecting away every little or big contradictions of his mind which shows doubts against his orthodox belief system. But there's another kind of demon too, perhaps Bergman's own demon, which's a kind of synecdoche for every artist's insight demons whose malicious features are only visible in an artist's vision— it actually entraps those artists in a new kind of confinement radar, surrounded by highly demanding and ruthless followers who takes away all the artsy whims from them and leaves them all confused and compulsed make them think what if their true art form has to compromise for their millions of followers' capricious demands and they have been forced to repeat themselves again and again and again for infinite number of times, does the true arts survive till the end? Welcome to Bergman's own perspective towards his insight demons which has haunted him since so long at the HOURS OF THE WOLF— "The time between midnight and dawn when most people die and most children are born, when sleep is deepest and when all nightmares are atmost palatable."

In 1963, the pioneering creativity scholar Frank Barron wrote that the “creative genius… is both more primitive and more cultured, more destructive and more constructive, occasionally crazier and yet adamantly saner than the average person.” I can literally feel the above lines in Bergman's HOUR OF THE WOLF in every second of this 90 minutes' venturing through a meta real world of an artistic mind starting from exact beginning of the film with Bergan saying "action" upto very end of the film with Ullmann's character Alma has been grieving for her beloved husband's brutal conclusion. It's exactly that kind of film which's one and only Bergman can dare to make. It's inaccessebly personal yet wholly universal as the story focuses on an artist's (Max von Sydow) journey who seeks peace and respite for conjuring his artistic fantasy by staying into an island, stands in solitude. His wife Alma has accompanied with him in there. Film starts with a node which itself looks somewhat dull but yet so interesting enough to focus for. Actually very much alike to Bergman's others features, this one too doesn't bother to force everyone to come and see the deepest nook and corners which is beholding the striking truths and unnerving mysteries of life under it's black and white surface with few long monologues and detailed closeups on characters' anxious faces. Rather it politely asks for attentions from it's audiences, but still if someone agrees to stay there and agrees to withstand with it's characters tormented worldviews that doesn't mean it'll directly unfurl the precious mysteries to them which it has been holding with so much care rather it again asks to them to think differently with creativity and with an artistic imagination to reach their own individual's conclusions.

It has been said that HOUR OF THE WOLF is only pure horror film which Bergman has ever made in his filmography, why it's the only horror of a filmmaker's career whose entire filmography has been kinda dedicated to make people scared about their existence, about their relationships, beliefs and about complexity of their identities? Just because it shows a woman torn apart her face in a carnival ? Or perhaps because of it shows a man walking through the wall and ceiling! Don't know the reason, but personally I can't ignore the horror aspects from any of Bergman's film. HOUR OF THE WOLF isn't an exception..it highly relies on Bergman's signature styles i.e multiple monologues with characters discussing their traumas and guilts from their pasts just in words, strikingly horrifying visuals and it also scratches through Bergman's own personal dreads as well. Our concerned character of the film is an artist, a famous painter who fears about something might have happened very soon as he can see "maneatters", he used to stare into his candles and talks to his wife for hours in night without either sleeping or letting his wife to rest a while. He discusses about his strange dreams which has been haunting him since his childhood or perhaps those are real memories, there's no way to guess for! Bergman literally penetrates the man's subconscious to extract a series of bizarre nightmares and array of sinister imaginations. He slips these hallucinations back and forth continiously across the line of reality, so that occasionally what seems to be a dream becomes gruesomely real. More film progresses to it's end more the wounds cut deep and more we have been sucked in to the subconscious meta reality of Painter's mind. One night the artist tells his wife of a time when he was a child. He was somehow locked up in a dark closet and told by his parents that a little man lives in there who would eat his toes off. In terror, the child began climbing up on shelves, and boxes, begging to be released. The next imagination/dream isn't just a long monologue with camera focusing his anxiety driven pale face patiently, we can witness his next nightmare as a form of visual imagery with heavily contrasted black and white display: we can see Painter's busy for fishing while accompanied by a strange boy. There is a moment when the boy stands behind the man and may could've thinking to push painter onto the rocks below, while he compulsively winds in his fishing line. A moment later, in a fit of rage, the man kills the boy and throws him away in the ocean where the drowning body of the boy casts a teribble hypnotic illusion on his mind. The immediate question which comes in mind that's not who's the boy and why does he behaved so strangely, rather it makes me think is this a dream or an illustrated exaggeration of a memory? Bergman seems too much stingy to give even a slightest cue about any of these unrelated strange dream sequences.

It's the near end sequence in the castle with all those weird people smiling and mocking the painter when he finally gets the pleasure what he has been seeking for through the events of the film..can've been seen as a sighful dissapointment from a artist's insight as his creative pleasure is just a matter of mockery for his trustworthy followers and it's just them who makes him famous and also just them who eats his flesh bit by bit untill his death or perhaps it's a story of decaying marriage where by a certain intervention of desires of getting the desirous pleasure, creates a little hole which has been slowly taken shape into a huge pit that separates two willing lovers for forever or may be it's a story of existence and identity but not so similar with PERSONA as while living with someone for ages one can adapt each other personalities in hope of sustaining corresponding's beloved's soul into them for their lifelong session of suffering, pain and happiness..or perhaps it's just about peeping into an usual marriage life that needs edurement, love, faith and beliefs on each other for holding eachother in the boundary of each other's lifes..it can be anything, HOUR OF THE WOLF can be interpreted by any possible thoughts that pops up in someone's mind after watching it. As it's multifaceted but as it's an artist creation so it needs a little bit artistic vision to look into it's deeper level, but first of all we should accept Bergman's Horror film without further asking logical interpretation from him as there're plenty of logics definitely but we need to find it by our own way in rest of our lives!

🔙Midnight Cowboy(1969)...









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