When a woman dying of cancer in early twentieth-century Sweden is visited by her two sisters, long-repressed feelings between the siblings rise to the surface.

Director:

Ingmar Bergman

Writer:

Ingmar Bergman
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Won 1 Oscar. Another 22 wins & 16 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview:
Harriet Andersson ... Agnes
Kari Sylwan Kari Sylwan ... Anna
Ingrid Thulin ... Karin
Liv Ullmann ... Maria / Mother
Anders Ek ... Isak
Inga Gill ... Storyteller
Erland Josephson ... David
Henning Moritzen ... Joakim
Georg Årlin ... Fredrik
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Storyline

In turn-of-the-century Sweden, cancer-stricken, dying Agnes is visited in her isolated rural mansion by her sisters Karin and Maria. As Agnes' condition deteriorates and pain management becomes increasingly more difficult, fear and revulsion grip the sisters, who seem incapable of empathy, and Agnes' only comfort and solace comes from her maid Anna. As the end draws closer, long repressed feelings of grudging resentment and mistrust cause jealousy, selfishness, and bitterness between the siblings to surface. Written by duke1029

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

Four women dressed in white in a mansion painted red...haunted by whispers and cries. See more »

Genres:

Drama

Certificate:

R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Bergman, who produced the film with his own money, could not find an American distributor as they felt it was too uncommercial. Roger Corman, who had just left American-International Pictures to set up his own New World releasing company, was in the market for a prestige picture to give his new operation some class. See more »

Goofs

When Anna wakes up Maria late at night, Maria follows her out of the room barefoot. After they get Karin, Maria has slippers on in the next shot. See more »

Quotes

Agnes: There's someone out there. Anna. There's someone out there.
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Connections

Featured in Bergman Island (2004) See more »

Soundtracks

Suite No. 5 for solo Cello in C Minor, 4th mvt 'Sarabande'
by Johann Sebastian Bach
Played by Pierre Fournier
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User Reviews

 
One of Bergman's Most Powerful Works
21 April 2005 | by gftbiloxiSee all my reviews

Upon its release CRIES AND WHISPERS was hailed as one of Bergman's finest films. Although it has not quite held onto that original evaluation, it remains a very fine film--a subtle and delicately performed drama as remarkable for its silence as for its occasional moments of dialogue. And in many respects it offers an extremely good introduction to Bergman's work.

Like many of Bergman's films, CRIES AND WHISPERS shows the director's preoccupations with memory, communication, time, community, and death. The story is bleak: Agnes is dying and her sisters Karin and Maria have come to attend her during this final illness--but they prove unable to communicate in a meaningful way with either Agnes or each other, and Agnes' emotional care is left largely to her long-time maid, the devoted Anna.

As the film unwinds, we are bought into the memories of each woman in turn. The dying Agnes (played with powerful realism by Harriet Andersson) not only grapples with increasing pain, she recalls with regret the emotional separation that existed between her long-dead mother and herself. Sister Maria (Liv Ullman), a mindless sensualist, recalls an act of adultery that has poisoned her marriage; Sister Karin (Ingrid Thulin), who is emotionally cold, recalls an act of self-mutilation designed to thwart her husband's desires. Only the maid Anna (Kari Sylwan), with a peasant's directness, actually works to be of comfort, even going so far as to cradle Agnes' head on her naked breast and dreaming of comforting Agnes while her sisters fail.

The film is ever so delicately tinged with subtle elements of lesbianism, sadomasochism, and incest, and the emotional problems experienced by Maria and Karin are at least partly sexual in nature--but these are not the focus of the film so much as they are surface indications of a deeper internal turmoil. As to what that deeper turmoil is... Bergman might say it is the nature of life itself. We each stand alone, usually in denial of our own mortality, usually unable to reach each other in any meaningful way. A deep film, and in spite of its occasional awkwardness a memorable and touching film. Recommended.

Gary F. Taylor, aka GFT, Amazon Reviewer


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Details

Country:

Sweden

Language:

Swedish | German | Danish

Release Date:

5 March 1973 (Sweden) See more »

Also Known As:

Cries and Whispers See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$400,000 (estimated)

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$10,595
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Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono

Color:

Color (Eastmancolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.66 : 1
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