The Touch (1971)

The Touch




Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

Movie Info

In this drama, a married young mother gets involved with an archaeologist. When the two meet, the woman finds herself longing for the freedom she lost when she married her surgeon husband. Though intoxicated by the freedom the wanderer offers, she still loves her husband, and this makes her choice difficult.

Rating: R
Genre: Drama, Romance, Art House & International
Directed By:
Written By: Ingmar Bergman
In Theaters:


as Karin Vergerus

as David Kovac

as Andreas Vergerus

as Sara Kovac

as Anders Vergerus

as Anders Vergerus

as Agnes Vergerus

as Hospital Matron

as Family Neighbor

as Therapist at museum

as Family Neighbor

as Museum Curator

as Museum Curator

as Woman on Staircase

as Bergerus' Sect'y

as Hospital Matron

as BEA Air Hostess

as British Immigration ...

as London Bellboy

as Archaeologist
Show More Cast

News & Interviews for The Touch

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Critic Reviews for The Touch

All Critics (8) | Top Critics (4)

When a film of Bergman's does not measure up to the exacting standards he has set for himself, the disappointment may be slightly disproportionate. It is not any the less acute.

Full Review… | August 1, 2007
TIME Magazine
Top Critic

Not exactly Bergman at his best, but still well worth a look.

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

Although it is often oblique, the drama is without mystery, and sometimes ridiculously blunt.

Full Review… | May 9, 2005
New York Times
Top Critic

Not only a disappointment but an unexpected failure of tone from a director to whom tone has usually been second nature.

Full Review… | October 23, 2004
Chicago Sun-Times
Top Critic

If you see only one Bergman movie in your life, don't let this be it.

Full Review… | August 29, 2006
TV Guide's Movie Guide


Full Review… | May 24, 2003

Audience Reviews for The Touch


It's the story of a married woman falling in love with another man. The married couple - Max von Sydow and Bibi Andersson - does live in fine rapport, their personalities matching well. Both are quiet, contemplative, and very rational persons, not liable to act spontaneous. The intruder - Elliott Gould - on the idyll which they embody together with their teenaged daughter is in contrast an impetuous man, uncompromising, overbearing, and tormented by inner contradictions and compulsions. Andersson tells him at one point that he hates himself. The two clandestine lovers aren't appropriate for each other. They have difficulties to accept the other's social behaviour and stance and don't like it to lie to their environments. But soon they cannot live without each other anymore.

The point of the film cannot be to show how two contrary characters complement each other, as Andersson was even more happy with von Sydow before and because it's all told in such a detached manner. The portrait of a love would like to involve the spectators to convey the joy and pain of it. Instead the question why Andersson turns away from von Sydow toward Gould seems intentionally perplexing. The dialogues and acting of the lovers is cerebral and cold, as if they were reciting dazedly on a stage, astounding themselves with their actions and feelings. As if they were actuating on an impulse isolate from their personalities. This impulse or drive is not eros, as especially at the beginning of their affaire sex is more a problem than a fulfilment to these two diffident lovers. Maybe love or the need to feel and give love is itself such a drive, an autonomous thing asserting itself regardless of the circumstances and the characters involved.

The central metaphor of the film is a medieval wooden statue of Mary, recently excavated after being buried for centuries - like Gould's and Andersson's potential to be lovers or man and woman. But with the disinterment of the Mary there also come alive insect larvae inside her, corroding her from within. Before they meet Gould attempted suicide and Andersson was reduced to a wife. They flower in their new love and it destroys their lives.

Civilization means in many ways the domestication of our impulses. Therefore Andersson realizes that she must not harm lastingly her family and Gould's hidden wife/sister. This is true. But Gould is telling her that she is lying to herself by not eloping with him and he's right, too.

Cassandra Maples

Super Reviewer


Director Ingmar Bergman made only two English-language films, "The Touch" (1971) and "The Serpent's Eye" (1977). Neither are well-regarded, and this doesn't seem coincidental. The dialogue in "The Touch" is uncomfortably stiff, and even the otherwise garrulous Elliott Gould sounds awkward delivering it. And his character is a mess. He's ridiculously brutal and tempestuous in some scenes, and unnaturally restrained in the rest. Essentially a three-character film, "The Touch" follows an affair between Gould and beautiful Bibi Andersson, while her academic husband (Max Von Sydow) seems too wrapped up in work to notice. Andersson doesn't seem compatible with either man, and there's little reason to root for either pairing to win out. Even the cinematography and score aren't up to Bergman's usual standards. Bedroom scenes bring good news and bad news: Andersson's perfect breasts and Gould's furry back.

Eric Broome
Eric Broome

Super Reviewer

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