Cries and Whispers
(Viskningar och rop)
A professor in the Department of Scandinavian at UC Berkeley, Linda H. Rugg has written extensively on Ingmar Bergman.
Harriet Andersson, Kari Sylwan, Ingrid Thulin, Liv Ullmann,
Cries and Whispers depicts the final day of Agnes (Harriet Andersson), who lies in bed with cancer. Her most dear ones—her sisters, Maria (Liv Ullmann) and Karin (Ingrid Thulin), and a companion, Anna (Kari Sylwan)—watch over her. In a film as formal as a clock’s tick, Bergman restricts his palette to colors of blood, his close-ups to the image of the soul. The four women want strength to face life, to overcome fear, to remove the curtain from behind which they look and admire, but do not go forth to touch. They are the same person in different stages of realizing that to love is to empty oneself of desire; to forgive oneself; to hear fully the cry of the present through the searing whispers from the past; to imagine a love that gives without knowing how to heal or provide rest, yet is vast and vigilant, because that is life’s meaning: to be saved by giving one’s body and soul.