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|Index||14 reviews in total|
True, the movie has got a few flaws, mostly in the construction; the structure lacks necessity and the flashbacks appear a bit randomly, it seems. However, the essential Bergman is already present (it's 1949): a few absolutely superb close-ups on the main characters' faces, the way people suddenly appear on camera, from unexpected angles, etc. And Bergman is already displaying some of the themes he will use constantly : the train travel, war and ruins as a background for difficult relationships, plus of course the impossibility and at the same time the inevitability of the relationship between man and woman : it's doomed, but there's no other way... In fact, the French title is "La fontaine d'Aréthuse", which points to this very idea. Precisely, I'd like to discuss another point : the original title is "Thirst". And in fact, people in the movie drink a lot : wine, beer, milk, or fail to drink : in a dramatic moment, one character refuses to drink coffee, tea is prepared, but doesn't taste good. I believe people never drink water, but water (the sea) is the backdrop for the happiest moment of the movie and the most desperate (with the suggestion of a suicide). For Bergman, I believe, Man is essentially thirsty, is desperately thirsty for something to calm and comfort him. But the world is hostile, relationships can offer only brief moments of satisfaction on a backdrop of tension and pain. Other comments on this title ? Very interesting movie overall.
Interesting film, but this is clearly not the very best of the great
Bergman. Several relationships are examined under the microscope (so
so Bergman). The film jumps around between the relationships in a
distracting way, but eventually you get to the bottom of who used to be
Gosh it's bleak out there, Bergman seems to share Strindberg's views on marriage and relationships at this time - the references to Strindberg stress that point. There's adultery, bitter rows between partners, lesbianism (inexplicit) and suicide. It ought to have me at the edge of my seat, but somehow doesn't quite do the business for me in the way that most Bergman films do. Perhaps this one hasn't aged well.
Worth seeing for the dedicated Bergman fan - it's pretty short and has its moments. If you are looking for an initial view of Bergman, look elsewhere.
My least favourite of the twelve Ingmar Bergman films that I have watched so far, this is nevertheless an okay film in itself. I could not bring myself to care for any of the characters, and the plot is rather awkward, to say the least. Interestingly, this Bergman film has the unusual quality of not been written by the Swedish great himself, so Bergman cannot receive much blame for the storyline, which consists of different events with different characters in different time periods, all put together in an unclear fashion. The story is hard to decipher, but what I could work out, I did not find very exciting at that. Even so, this is satisfactory viewing, as the camera follows around the characters very well and Bergman shows some skill for setting up shots, even if not as greatly as in some of his later efforts. And, if not much else, the music choices are fitting. I am not sure whether I would recommend this to other Bergman fans, but I would definitely advise non-fans to proceed with caution.
I thought I had seen every Bergman film ever made, so I was thrilled to
stumble onto this one the week after he died. I had no trouble
following the intertwining stories because I kept track of the
characters' names and their relationships. So what confused many
viewers seemed totally justified, especially compared to films in our
post-Altmam era where more and more we see "stories" where seemingly
unconnected people's lives crisscross and are junxtaposed ("Magnolia,"
and "Babel" to name a few).
The filming is fantastic for the time and prefigures the use of close ups in "Through a Glass Darkly." Very different from "Port of Call" just before and "To Joy" just afterwards. I found the film less bleak than "Prison," its lyrical moments prefiguring "Summer Interlude," one of my favorite early Bergmans.
The lesbianism was blatant enough for me, much more obvious than in "Young Man With A Horn," made around the same time in the US. Curiously, this section of the film helped illuminate Bergman's use of the theme in "The Silence," and this makes me want to view that film again. The fact that this is a film Bergman didn't write is intriguing, because he harmonizes his visual language to the rhythms of the screenwriter's oral one. The dialog was rather light for the seriousness of the situations. Perhaps Bergman himself would have been heavier-handed.
Lastly, there are the actresses, and here Bergman's direction of actors seems to solidify, as I find his previous films much more uneven on this score. Here the women, especially the young dancer, show real depth.
Keep in mind that this is not his first film, but still an early work, a seed that will grow into later masterpieces. Then you won't be disappointed, even after the mediocre last minutes of a work that definitely showed promise.
Women on the verge of a nervous breakdown, men looking for dominance, acted out on a small scale: Here, Bergman serves up some technical and contentual elements which can be found throughout his later career. Several short stories written by Birgit Tengroth, who is playing Viola here, are melded, with the main plot involving Rut (Eva Henning) and Bertil (Birger Malmsten). But as soon as the couple arrives the train which will take them on a journey through Europe, Bergman somehow loses all side threads. One can sense how the director exerts to stage his idea of a marital- and love drama, though, it soon appears as a pretty faint attempt and at the end all plot lines remain fragmentarily. The characters and the images, however, linger. They tell the underlying story of Törst and convey this certain feeling of freedom, self-determination, and desire for love presented in a "steely, self-assured, stripped-down directorial style" which is Bergman's very own. That is why with this film one can expect something in the subsequent films of this yet young talent: a great subtlety in cinematic character psychology and lasting, poignant images.
While Ode to Joy is undoubtedly the gem of Eclipse's Early Bergman box set, Thirst is a close second, at least in my mind. It's kind of a precursor to Scenes of a Marriage, where the story follows a married couple (played by Eva Henning and Birger Malmsten) on a train trip through war-torn Europe. The tumult of the film comes not from the mostly ignored outside world, but from the rocky marriage itself. We also get glimpses of the couple's former lovers. The film is at its best when sticking to the couple. When it strays to the stories of side characters, it's weaker. Since the film is so short (just over 80 minutes), you have to wonder if some of the tangential stories were added as padding. But even the scenes that don't add much are well written, acted and directed. Henning gives a masterful performance, and Bergman was really coming into his own by this point.
Bergman is beginning to develop some of his personal traits to be found
in the later, more mature film. He hasn't yet learned to unveil the
characters quite yet but the interactions are quite interesting. There
are several stories going on here and a couple of groups of characters
and sometimes the switching back and forth can be confusing. I would
certainly agree with one reviewer that "thirst" was used not only
metaphorically throughout but quite literally from the first image of
an eddy of water during the credits to the very end. The characters are
always drinking something or other - water (it's midsummer after all),
wine(one of the characters is an alcoholic), even milk. The characters
are actually quite self-centered, as in so many of Bergman's earliest
films, and not particularly likable. The scene with the "therapist" was
especially disturbing and the characters seem more prone to bounce off
each other than anything. It's when they start to communicate that the
trouble really begins to brew as we've learned from the later films.
It's interesting to see that the late Ingmar Bergman only directed
Thirst and didn't write it. Even with its flaws, like the Virgin Spring
it seems authentic to the filmmaker's intentions with the characters
and the dialog especially. Bergman, through the writer Birgit Tengroth,
makes it his own even as he's still trying to get together completely
the rhythm of the storytelling. It's strange to see him effortlessly
direct within the realm of getting the camera moving around and still
going at a realistic tempo (most of the time anyway). It's a story of
lovers and lovers gone to pot, with the life of one, the woman in the
relationship (Eva Henning as Rut), revealed in flashbacks to a past
rotten relationship and other friendship, while the husband (Birger
Malmsten as Bertil) has only his ex shown in dire straits after the
The latter part was the only scene that didn't quite work for me; despite Bertil's 'dream' later on in the film- which is rather great within the experimentation of his mood expressed violently- we never see much behind his past life with the person. Viola, played by Tenegroth herself, is better than expected in the part as a fragile soul who breaks away from being committed and runs into also old school friend (and the ballet friend of Rut's, at least I think it was) Valborg, though her better, more dramatic work comes later on in the film.
Still, it's a very good drama, with Bergman leading it along in a sort of quagmire for the audience (likely also to be found in Strindberg, one of Bergman's biggest influences) about how people who meet for the reason of comfort end up feeling torn away by that same reason. Rut's relationship with Raoul winds up cruel and a mark on her psyche, though she's also got her own quirks and obnoxious side, yet she'll stay with him, or try to, at the very end. It's quite bleak despite the happy ending however (i.e. the fate of Viola), and the ideal of happiness in this world is always out of reach; discoveries when stuck together, as on a train, only bring about more pondering. In 83 minutes time it can't be nearly as probing about how men distance women, or vice versa, sometimes unintentionally or through vicious deeds or thoughts, as other Bergman films.
But for a short while there are some tense moments, and even a couple of surprising light ones: the scene showing Rut and the dancers having fun on stage with some folk music is one of Bergman's most joyous scenes of any movie he's done.
This is another example of Bergman's submerging of himself into the despair of life and the cockeyed relationships between men and women. The two principle characters are in a relationship made in hell. They even speak of it that way. And yet to not have this relationship is so much worse. She prattles on and on, drinks and smokes, beats on him, won't let him sleep, ignores and steals from him; he is dull, self indulgent, selfish, and full of longing for the past. Each has left a trail of pain. She had her career and her optimism destroyed by a cad who flaunted her in front of his wife. He lived a time with a sick woman who he has not forgotten but has played in a foul way. This is like a train wreck to watch. When he imagines he kills her, I, as the viewer was almost relieved. She was like those harpies in Greek mythology that never leave well enough alone. But love is not easily understood and this is no exception, because being alone is perhaps a greater burden. We can see so much of the later Bergman. Watch at your own risk.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I have seen a ton of Ingmar Bergman's films. A few of them were
brilliant, a few were terrible but one thing I can say about just about
all of them is that they were unpleasant. This is NOT a criticism--just
a fact that Bergman chose to make films about unpleasant
things--marital infidelity, alienation, mental illness and death--such
was the repertoire of Bergman. Many people adore the man's work. As for
me, I appreciate his films (especially "Wild Strawberries", "Autumn
Sonata" and "The Seventh Seal") but would like to see more films like
"The Devil's Eye"--a much more lighthearted and occasionally fun sort
"Thirst" is oppressively dark and unpleasant. And, typical of many of his films, you really don't like anyone. Instead, it's like you are a fly on the wall staring at people who are miserable--with no resolution--just alienation and unhappiness.
The film is about a married couple who really don't like each other--but in an odd way they love each other. Both have had affairs and both seem resigned to living out their lives together--like it or not. I could say more, but frankly don't feel like it--suffice to say they are miserable and ill-matched and desperately in need to therapy.
This is an odd movie because later in the film there is another plot involving alienation and depression. But, oddly, this plot appears out of the blue and never really is fleshed out at all. It really looks like the film originally had two parallel stories and they edited out much of the second one. It should have either been removed completely or developed properly. Either way, it just didn't work and I wanted to a lot more about the weird therapist the lady saw as well as the lesbian angle--but both appear and disappear just as quickly.
This is a film for lovers of Bergman. For others, if you want an unpleasant film, see one of Bergman's better films. Life is too short to watch a stead diet of films like this.
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