I have been using an old DVD player for listening to CDs in my room. Last night on a whim I put in Ingmar Bergman's Cries and Whispers and decided to listen to the film. The experience was all the more interesting because, lacking a screen (and therefore subtitles), I had only my memory of the film's plot to inform me of what was going on. I made some notes.
Bergman begins with simple gestures: a series of chiming clocks. It is 4.
The clocks indicate a large home: they signify by their ringing the fullness of time.
Breathing: Agnes is in pain.
The absence of music is refreshing. It allows us to actually experience the event. No tone is set.
I recall Agnes taking up her journal: [Date] I am in PAIN.
8 minutes in and not a word spoken. Barely a sound except ticking clocks.
A music box plays.
How has Agnes, the least loved daughter, come to own the old house?
Clock strikes 8.
Agnes remnisces: music plays as we look into the past.
What does this say about Bergman's view of music? Music as reminiscent.
Agnes remembers a scene outdoors. Idyllic, but laden with the pain of the unloved. We remember Wild Strawberries for some reason.
The old aunt is telling a story with the magic lantern. Agnes narrates.
What an amazing actress she is.
More piano music.
Agnes hated by the mother (because they are the same?)
The present again. Enter Anna. The doctor is here for an exam.
Why does Bergman care so much about humanity to write these scripts? There is love behind every great art, and a greater love behind great film and literature.
The doctor and Liv Ulmann connect . . . a sign of yet untold past events.
No, he says, and walks out.
Ullmann's character is evil.
Here is her section: her daughter is sick and the doctor stays the night.
She has a disgusting coquettishnes. She comes to his room.
She is Maria.
Her husband has stabbed himself in the chest. "Help me!" he says. She shakes her head and walks away.