Saturday, 4 December 2010

AUS DEM LEBEN DER MARIONETTEN/ From the Life of the Marionettes (1980)

Made during Ingmar Bergman's exile in Germany this is one of the dour Swede's bleakest works. The optimism that shone even in the darkest films of his early period and the obvious human concern for the troubled characters of the middle period has now disappeared. This is a cold and detached examination of a troubled soul. The film starts with a colour sequence in which the main character (brilliantly played by Robert Atzorn) murders and sodomizes a prostitute in a Munich peepshow. You know any film that starts like that is not going to be a lot of laughs! Bergman's films have often been concerned with psychological violence but his German films (this and THE SERPENT'S EGG) are the culmination of an increasing tendency for this to spill over into a physical manifestation which when it happens is disturbing in the extreme. Christine Buchegger (above with Atzorn in a fantasy sequence) is superb as the wife and Walter Schmidinger is outstanding as their gay friend (?). While watching the film I decided that I really didn't like it much but the next morning I find that it's images and themes are still with me. This is Bergman at the true Heart of Darkness. The mysterious title is a quote from PINOCCHIO.Rating ****

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