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Torment (1944)

Hets (original title)
An idealistic adolescent, suffering under the thumb of a sadistic schoolmaster, falls in love with a loose girl who is bullied and tormented by another lover.

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
Stig Järrel ...
Alf Kjellin ...
Jan-Erik Widgren
...
Bertha Olsson
Olof Winnerstrand ...
The Headmaster
Gösta Cederlund ...
Pippi
Hugo Björne ...
Doctor Nilsson
Olav Riégo ...
Mr. Widgren
Märta Arbin ...
Mrs. Widgren
Jan Molander ...
Pettersson
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Hilda Borgström ...
Caligula's Mother (scenes deleted)
Gunnar Carlsson ...
Student (as Lars-Gunnar Carlsson)
Anna Olin ...
Aunt Elisabeth (scenes deleted)
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Storyline

Jan-Erik Widgren is a high-school senior. His Latin teacher, Caligula, is feared by everybody, both teachers and students. Widgren falls in love with Berta, who works in a tobacco store. She tells him that she is harassed by a mean, sadistic man, but does not tell him that it is Caligula himself. Written by Mattias Thuresson

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Genres:

Drama

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Details

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Release Date:

2 October 1944 (Sweden)  »

Also Known As:

Torment  »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

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Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The original screenplay ending of the film, as written by Ingmar Bergman, had Jan-Erik walking out on his exams as his sadistic Caligula watched and waved goodbye. The producers thought that was too dark. So, Bergman added the scenes where Caligula is exposed as a villain and the Headmaster offers his assistance to Jan-Erik. See more »

Goofs

When Caligula and Widgren sit in the window together towards the middle of the film, the boom mic can be seen reflected in the glass above them. See more »

Quotes

Sandman - Student: Wouldn't it be great to have a bed like the one in the movie? And a nice dame too.
Jan-Erik Widgren: You think?
Sandman - Student: You bet. A table filled with grub and booze, that bed and a dame. I wouldn't get up for two weeks. I'd just eat and sleep and make it with the broad.
See more »

Connections

Referenced in Three Scenes with Ingmar Bergman (1975) See more »

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User Reviews

 
One of Bergman's bleakest, most affecting screenplays, under some dizzying Sjoberg direction
9 December 2005 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

Torment, one of the first winners of the grand jury prize at Cannes, brings forth Ingmar Bergman's first screenplay to fruition (he was only in his mid twenties when he wrote it). Although it might not be apparent, as it is an early work and it would be another dozen or so years before his true cinematic high-watermark, it is the work of an already gifted writer, in tune with what drives drama. It's sometimes hard to make moving drama out of school-life, but Bergman gets it right in that he focuses it on three characters (with the occasional stern but really good-hearted older professor character). Our protagonist, filled with enough inner conflict and aimlessness, is Vindgren played with great ambivalence, fear, and subdued passion by Alf Kjellen. He gets mixed up in a romantic affair with a woman, Bertha (Mai Zetterling, seductive even as being vulnerable) who feels abused and need some compassion from him. But, as it goes with such a practically bleak and (dare I say) naturalistic story, things are not good for either one.

Bergman and the wonderful director Alf Sjoberg, get a terrifying performance (albeit if it is sometimes two-dimensional, or maybe not) by Stig Jarrell, who plays Vindgren's manipulative, "old-school" tormenting teacher, who also happens to be attached, so to speak, with Bertha. The link drives Vindregn into the kind of despair that makes the film, in the end, really work. There's also something very curious about how the script is so precise, so dark and occasionally shocking for a film from 1944 sometimes in the guise of a romantic melodrama. Bergman knows these characters, so much so that what occurs at the least stays true to what is known to be their characters. Change occurs slowly, if at all, and with the professor especially there is a great kind of push and pull that Jarrell does- at times he's like a little puppy trying to get sympathy for 'being sick', but it's all just a guise.

Torment, in the end, is an excellent, near-great film about what it's like for the "rotten apple" of the bunch. Vindgren isn't a bad kid, but the pressures from schoolwork (nearing graduation no less) on top of his seeming love-affair with a woman more scrambled up by her relationship with the professor, things boil over. The last twenty minutes are at times totally heart-wrenching, reaching the depths that Bergman would plunge even further to with his masterpieces in the 60's and 70's. But Sjoberg goes just at the limit, which is a plus and minus, as he tries to make it appealing for the period (with Hidling Rosenberg's musical score quite fitting at times), with some interesting, expressionistic lighting techniques that add that fine coat onto the subject matter. That Bergman/Sjoberg also make the regular school-scenes believable, and even put in some interesting bits with supporting characters (the nerdy kid has a couple of good scenes, though the scene stealer is the teacher-to-teacher talk where the good tries his best to face down the bad), is of equal merit.

In short, Torment, what first set off the little spark for Bergman's career (and likely provided Sjoberg with one of his best films) is worth looking for, if at the least for Bergman fans wanting to check out all of his films, but one may find it to be one of Bergman's most searing early works.


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