Berlin, 1923. Following the suicide of his brother, American circus acrobat Abel Rosenberg attempts to survive while facing unemployment, depression, alcoholism and the social decay of Germany during the Weimar Republic.
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Max von Sydow
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Ingmar Bergman's 'The Serpent's Egg' follows a week in the life of Abel Rosenberg, an out-of-work American-Jewish circus acrobat living in poverty-stricken Berlin in November of 1923. When his brother commits suicide, Abel seeks refuge in the apartment of his former sister-in-law Manuela, who works in a cabaret at night and in a brothel in the morning. Desperate to make ends meet in a city struggling with mass unemployment, Abel takes a job in Veregus' clinic, where he discovers the horrific truth behind the work of the professor and unlocks the chilling mystery that drove his brother to kill himself.Written by
Though set in 1923 in pre-Nazi Germany, the film was still selected for inclusion for discussion in Annette Insdorf's book, "Indelible Shadows: Film and the Holocaust" (1982), as the film reflects the rise of Fascism / Nazism in 20th Century Germany. See more »
The Nazi-looking thugs that are beating up people are wearing Model 1943 German army caps and 1940s style clothing. This film is supposed to take place in the 1920s. See more »
[explains the upcoming social and political developments in Germany to Abel Rosenberg]
It's like a serpent's egg. Through the thin membranes, you can clearly discern the already perfect reptile.
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While not a masterpiece, this is also far from the mess most critics took it for. An intelligent failure (or modest success) Bergman looks at Germany in the 20s as laying the groundwork for Hitler and the Nazis.
Liv Ullman is terrific, as always. And if David Carradine is only good, not great, he certainly didn't deserve the critical attacks he received. The nature of his character is a man so locked in passivity as to be enigmatic. You might not like that kind of character, but it's certainly not the actor's fault for carrying it out well!
Yes, some of it is slow, and some a bit obvious, but those charges could also be leveled against some Bergman films labeled masterpieces. As a cautionary tale of where we were once before, and could end up again, I've certainly seen far worse. It has some truly chilling moments. And I think seeing it again may reveal even more
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