Cries and Whispers (1972)

TOMATOMETER

AUDIENCE SCORE

Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.


Movie Info

This grim but unforgettable film stars Liv Ullman and Ingrid Thulin as the sisters of dying cancer patient Harriet Andersson. With her two sisters wrapped up in their own problems, Andersson turns to her housekeeper Kari Sylwan for comfort; Sylwan has herself suffered the death of a child.

Rating: R
Genre: Drama, Romance
Directed By:
Written By: Ingmar Bergman
In Theaters:
On DVD: Jun 19, 2001
Runtime:
Criterion Collection

Cast


as Maria

as Pastor

as Fredrik

as Fredrik

as Maria's daughter

as Aunt Olga

as Agnes as a Child

as Maria as a Child

as Karin as a Child
Show More Cast

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Critic Reviews for Cries and Whispers

All Critics (28) | Top Critics (6)

The much-vaunted color symbolism is so obvious as to be almost charming in its simplicity, and the gothic ambience never really resonates.

Full Review… | August 1, 2007
Chicago Reader
Top Critic

Ingmar Bergman's dark vision of the human condition has focused on individuals incapable of real inter-personal communications except on the most primitive level.

Full Review… | August 1, 2007
Variety
Top Critic

Bergman's hour remains resolutely that of the wolf.

Full Review… | June 24, 2006
Time Out
Top Critic

It stands alone and it reduces almost everything else you're likely to see this season to the size of a small cinder.

Full Review… | May 20, 2003
New York Times
Top Critic

In order to understand why Cries and Whispers is a great film, it must be experienced, not merely watched.

Full Review… | September 19, 2002
ReelViews
Top Critic

Bergman never made another film this painful. To see it is to touch the extremes of human feeling. It is so personal, so penetrating of privacy, we almost want to look away.

Full Review… | August 26, 2002
Chicago Sun-Times
Top Critic

Audience Reviews for Cries and Whispers

Ingmar Bergman, 1918-2007

brooklynspo
Bob Stinson

Super Reviewer

½

In a perfect demonstration that horror and trauma are the stuff of real, everyday life and not the macabre vision of fantasists, Cries and Whispers marked Bergman's recovery as one of Europe's greatest film directors.

Like most Bergman films, Cries and Whispers is concerned with death, the suffering before death and the re-evaluation of life that death brings. It centres on three sisters: one dying of cancer, another trapped in a repellent marriage, and the last engaged in an uncomfortable affair. Moving between these three women is the maid, who tends the dying woman in her agony and, in one stunning scene, holding her to her naked bosom like a mother holding a child.

It is not, then, a barrel of laughs. Bergman films are not often for casual viewing, and I certainly won't be taking this one home to watch with my mother.

Like a great classical composer, Bergman uses contrast to enormous effect. Muted sounds which force you to strain to listen are punctuated with heart-rending screams from the dying Agnes. The colour scheme is a disquieting red, fading into pastoral greens and blues as the women reminisce about their younger life.

The characters also contrast uncomfortably. The two younger sisters, Karin and Maria, are sitting the deathwatch for their sister, but their task arouses no compassion in them. They are appalled and repelled by their sister's suffering, but they will not hold her hand or comfort her. The mutual dislike for each other is palpable. This contrasts with the simple humanism of their maid Anna ? whom they callously talk about firing, once their sister is dead.

Set in the late 19th Century, the story flits intermittently between present and past, fleshing out the motivations and the stories of the sisters. One of these flashbacks confronts the audience with one of the most disturbing image in cinema, a repressed Karin cutting her vagina with glass to avoid sex with her husband.

Only a director of Bergman's calibre could make such a film riveting. Yet riveting it is. Bergman gets sensational performances from his four main leads; regulars Liv Ullmann, Ingrid Thurin and Harriet Andersson and a majestic, understated Kari Sylwan. To call this film Ibsenesque would be a slur on the originality of Bergman's vision. It is a testimony to his genius that this may not be his best film, yet it is one of the most striking films in modern cinema. I cannot recommend it highly enough.

matertenebraum
Cassandra Maples

Super Reviewer

Gorgeously filmed, and emotionally resonant. Not the best Bergman film I've seen, but a great film still. Frightening, hypnotic, contemplative, and even somewhat disturbing. A good film for discussion.

Dillon Lupky
Dillon Lupky

Super Reviewer

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