Movie Discussion: Ingmar Bergman’s Hour of the Wolf [Vargtimmen] (1968)

  • Monthly Theme: 1960s Mindfuckvargtimmen-001
  • The Film: Hour of the Wolf
  • Country of origin: Sweden
  • Swedish title: Vargtimmen
  • Date of Swedish release: February 19, 1968
  • Date of U.S. release: April 9, 1968
  • Studio: Svensk Filmindustri (SF)
  • Distributer: Lopert Pictures Corporation (subtitled)
  • Domestic Gross: ?
  • Budget: ?
  • Director: Ingmar Bergman
  • Producer: Lars-Owe Carlberg
  • Screenwriter: Ingmar Bergman
  • Adaptation? No.
  • Cinematographer: Sven Nykvist
  • Make-Up/FX: Tina Johansson, et al.
  • Music: Lars Johan Werle
  • Part of a series? No.
  • Remakes? No.
  • Genre Icons in the cast? No.
  • Other notables?: Yes. Bergman regulars Max von Sydow, Liv Ullman, Erland Josephson and Ingrid Thulin.
  • Awards?: n/a
  • Tagline: “The Hour of the Wolf is the hour between night and dawn. It is the hour when most people die. It is the hour when the sleepless are haunted by their deepest fear, when ghosts and demons are most powerful.”
  • The Lowdown: Known primarily as an arthouse darling who made spiritually bleak meditations on the purposelessness of man’s search for meaning, he actually did make one movie that self-consciously adopted the tropes of horror cinema: 1968’s Hour of the Wolf. Starring Bergman regulars Max von Sydow (who is, coincidentally, up for an Oscar right now for his non-speaking role in Extremely 9/11 and Incredibly Tom Hanks) and Liv Ullman, the movie involves a young couple isolated in a remote cabin. He is Johan, a beloved artist who is slowly losing his grip on reality; she is Alma, his young, stoic and pregnant wife who agonizes over the state of his mental health. Soon begins a series of surreal visitations from characters who may or may not be projections of Johan’s neuroses. A group of wealthy, decadent aristocrats residing in a nearby castle befriend the couple and invite them over for parties that devolve into nightmarish bacchanals.

If you haven’t seen Hour of the Wolf our discussion will include massive SPOILERS. 

Sean: So… your initial reaction to the movie was shock and terror. In fact, you claimed that the only other movie that’s upset you more than Hour of the Wolf was Wolf Creek. [Editor’s Note: We watched Wolf Creek before we started the blog, but Kristine’s reaction to the movie was intense shock and white-hot rage (that she directed at Sean for showing her the film). However, the next day we had an amazing conversation about the movie and why it upset her, which in essence gave us the idea for the blog. So Wolf Creek has a hallowed place in Girl Meets Freak history.] How are you feeling 3 days later?

Kristine: The terror did not last. I think it was all very visually focused terror. Now I am more curious about Bergman’s psyche. I am still scared by some of the movie’s themes, but not by specific scenes.

Sean: None of the visuals are haunting you?

Kristine: No, they are not. Sorry. I know you were hoping I would be haunted. The only scene really haunting me is the fishing scene. You thought my reaction was going to be boredom. Can you explain why?

Sean:Well, it’s sort of a non-narrative film and it is dripping with ‘60s New-Wave experimentalism and  “avant garde”-ness and I just was worried you’d be yawning your way to the fjord…

A new Swedish skin-rejuvenation treatment known as “sloughing.” Just loosen, grab and pull!

Kristine: See, it had more of a narrative then I was expecting.

Sean: Interesting. I actually still look at this movie and think, What’s the story? There’s no story. I mean, I feel like the movie is just about a state of mind.

Kristine: The freaky stuff starts up right away, which keeps it from being boring from my point of view. Also, I found Alma and Johan’s relationship to be bizarre and interesting even before any of the hauntings started up. I mean, you are correct that sometimes I lack patience with meandering stories, with random characters coming up and all “Bibbity-bobbity-booing” and then scurrying away. But I was intrigued throughout this movie.

Sean: Interesting. I guess, for me, I’m sort of put off by the Bergmanian depiction of hetero romance. It’s like the guy commanding the woman: “Let me draw you! Bare your shoulders! Move your hair!”

Kristine: Well, yes, their relationship is upsetting. And I think Hour of the Wolf is a case study of what happens when the Rational Inquiring Masculine Authority [RIMA] ceases being so rational, thereby putting Eccentric Domestic Goddess of Intuition [EDGI] at risk. [Editor’s Note: For the backstory on RIMA and EDGI, see our discussion of Alfred Hitchcock’s Frenzy.] And let’s not forget, what causes the RIMA to lose his “R”: Art.

Sean: That’s true. But for as much as I appreciate things about this movie, I think it is pretty narratively inert. It’s just a series of (sort of fantastic) set-pieces strung together by Nordic pretension.

Kristine: Yeah, but there is a build up and a climax to the movie.

Sean: Right, right… I guess there is a “climax” (ew), that’s true.

Kristine: Okay, should we start by discussing the Johan/Alma relationship or the movie’s overall structure?

Sean: You choose.

Kristine: Let’s discuss them.

Sean: OK. So, first of all I’m always surprised at what a tall, strapping Swede Max von Sydow was back in the day. And Liv’s face is right off the Swiss Miss hot cocoa box…

Kristine: Alma is like, the ultimate domestic goddess, right? All the scenes of her doing this backbreaking house work, never complaining…

Sean: Yes, she’s super domestic and super “muse”y.

Kristine: Her being so fastidious and careful with the finances, not wanting to be wasteful, while he is all, “Whatever. I am thinking great thoughts. I cannot be bothered with your pedestrian accounting.”

Sean: I mean, Bergman lived and died by the idea of the Great Man and His Muse.

Mirror by IKEA. Three-way by Satan.

Kristine: I completely agree that Bergman lived and died by the Great Man and his Muse thing, which is also so Woody Allen. I think Alma being pregnant was an offensively easy way to typecast her as good and wholesome. It made me mad.

Sean: Yes, it’s just gross in most ways.

Kristine: I also think we are supposed to be more concerned about her because she is with child.

Sean: I’m sure he was like, “Now I can draw your engorged pregnant belly – Move your hair!” And then whipped her with a switch made from a Swedish marsh-reed.

Kristine: Like, her terror is increased due to her pregnancy. Which of course would be true but is still a shortcut to creating audience sympathy for her character, don’t you think?

Sean:  I have to be honest: I barely even register that she’s pregnant when I watch the movie.

Kristine:  Well, exactly. That’s my point. It is not vital to the story at all. It is just there as a little extra nudge to remind you she is the force for good as opposed to bad (the Depraved Aristocrats).

Sean: I sort of find all their scenes together a bit of a snooze and, well, Alma herself to be a bit of a snooze. I love Liv Ullman in other movies, but in this one? Maybe I just hate the framing device Bergman foists upon her.

Kristine: Yeah, she’s likable but whatever. Just to repeat: pregnant Swiss Miss washing sheets = good. Fornicating aristocrats hosting ghastly puppet shows = bad.

Sean: Well, yes, the movie imagines good as pastoral, heterosexual, monogamous, rustic and evil is cultured, decadent, pansexual, aristocratic, debauched. I did like the nighttime scenes between Alma and Johan when they’re in the cabin and it’s “the hour of the wolf” and there’s this sense of rising hysteria. And I do think it’s interesting to watch a movie about a destabilized male, where the woman is the rock and the emissary of reason.

Kristine: Those scenes really reminded me of when you have to stay up all night with somebody on drugs and it sucks so bad.

Sean: You with the drugs. It always comes back to the drugs.

Kristine: I agree that is an interesting change-up to shift the gender politics away from the hysterical woman to the hysterical man, especially in a horror movie setting where usually the ladies are always losing their heads. But don’t you think that even when Johan breaks, he is still controlling the relationship? The scene I am thinking of is when he has snapped and he has the gun and he orders her away and even shoots at her, but it is obvious he is doing it to protect her. He is still being parental and “taking care” of her, even as he goes nuts.

Sean: Yes he’s in control always. I mean that’s the thing: she’s so fucking deferential and she’s so concerned with his fucking “well-being.” Just fyi, I grew up in a household very much like the one depicted in Hour of the Wolf: an unwell, unpredictable male “genius” prone to sudden rages and passions being kowtowed to and tiptoed around by a submissive woman. I mean, my father literally would be like “I’m working on a fucking problem here!” and there’d be arcane mathematical symbols scrawled all over his office and we’d all be hiding, afraid to make a sound.

Kristine: Good Lord, Sean.

Sean: Truth.

The Swedish Bela Lugosi prefers jumbo-sized beeswax candles on his birthday cake.

Kristine: I don’t know if I totally have my head around what I think the movie is really “about.” But I think there is something significant in the fact that she really does love him, she is not just submissive because he is an authoritative male figure. I mean, she is not just like that because he is the man and she is the woman. She is really trying to understand him, not just trying to get along and not make waves. Does that make sense? It doesn’t necessarily make it less gross…

Sean: Well, okay I guess I was taking all that as a given. I never meant to imply that it was just because he’s “a man.” I think it’s because he’s “an artist!”

Kristine: Right. That’s what I mean. I think it’s about the power of charismatic people, especially if they are artistic.

Sean: And he also happens to be patriarchal. But, I guess, this tradition of art is patriarchal? What kind of artist is he? Did we get a good look at any of his work?

Kristine: We do not.Do you feel for Johan?

Sean: Well… Yes. Here’s the thing: if we jettison the gender politics I do think the movie is exploring an interesting question about the nature of the artist, and about the line between creativity and madness. It’s worth thinking about. I mean, my greatest fear is mental illness (I have lots of it in my family history). I think for a lot of creative people, or even just highly pitched, attuned people, mental illness is a fear/concern. That’s why a lot of creative types do drugs/become alcoholics, to stave off the crazies (and it’s only a temporary fix because eventually it actually exacerbates the crazies).

Kristine: I absolutely agree with that but I find it interesting that you think that’s the essential theme of the movie.

Sean: I do think it’s the main theme. What do you think it is?

Kristine: Well, I think there are two themes, and this goes into why I think this movie is scary, because the likelihood of someone going crazy or ending up being in a deeply loving relationship seems astronomically high compared with the likelihood of having a run in with a monster or a killer. Like you said, I have feared being nuts for most of my adult life (we’ve also got it in spades in the family history) and most of the smart, creative people I know share this fear. At the very least, they fear having relationships because they don’t want to subject someone they love to their “craziness.” So, I agree with you that the genius/madness theme is there. But so is the fear of ending up with someone who is a genius/madperson, and how little we can do to stop such a thing happening.

Sean: Oh… I guess I don’t understand how that’s two separate themes. Isn’t that sort of all part of the same deal?

Kristine: I guess it is. But it feels different to me. I think because, maybe to us, both those possibilities seem real. But for some people, only one of them could manifest.

Sean: Part of the problem with that whole setup in a narrative is that the audience cannot help but be like “Leave!” to the person who loves the crazy. And if the person who loves the crazy doesn’t leave? If they stick around for the insanity? It’s like, Well then that’s what you get. But the crazy person is at the mercy of crazy; they can’t “leave.” Or something… I guess what I’m saying is the psychology of Alma is not that interesting to me, and maybe there’s some weird sexism in that, but there it is.

Bergman to intellectuals and critics: I punch your face and brandish my easel at you and your fey trenchcoat!

Kristine: Well, that’s why the movie sets the island up as a character, because it is a material barrier that symbolizes whatever emotional barriers are there.

Sean: Yes I agree, and it’s a smart way to set the story up I think.

Kristine: Can I tell you about what one of my favorite scenes was? It’s a very, very small scene, but it was so beautiful and also so ominous! It’s at the very beginning, where the little motor boat drops off Johan and Alma at the island, they unload all their “artistic” belongings and then they step out of the frame and the camera just follows the boat slowly puttering away behind a rock and then it is just gone. You get a sense that now they’re fucked, but it’s also very, very pretty.

Sean: Ah. Yes that’s lovely.

Kristine: Do you remember it? I was like, ‘Wow.’ Oh, and it’s all silent, I think.

Sean: Like I said on the phone – I think this film is definitely Bergman showing that he’s a master of the medium. Technically I think the film is amazing.

Kristine: It is.

Sean: The use of sound, the framing of shots and the cinematography are all exquisite.

Kristine: Can I say one more last thing about Alma leaving? It’s just that, besides her own unwillingness to leave the relationship, she is genuinely concerned about Johan’ wellbeing and that is a valid concern. I mean, they are in the wilderness with horny, masturbating aristocrats roaming the woods. Even after he shoots her in the arm she follows him out in the woods to make sure he is okay. That can be seen as a disgusting display of masochism and servitude, or it can be seen as weirdly sensible.

Sean: Um… according to you that is a valid concern. I hate “to make sure he is okay.”

Kristine: I know you hate it, but it is a real thing.

Sean: Well, it is stupid behavior. That idea, that women should be nurturing and should put their own self-interest and well being ahead of others (namely men and children, never other women of course) fucking pisses me off. Like, I know he just shot at me but I have to “make sure he’s okay”? NO.

Kristine: I think despite her being a woman and pregnant and submissive – she is also clearly the stronger of the couple. Right? She is going to be okay.

You mean HAVEN’T read “Dagbok,” the Pippi Longstocking spinoff featuring the adventures of Dagbok, Pippi’s double-amputee playmate? It’s Alma’s favorite!

Sean: Well, yes. But that cuts both ways because she’s a “normal.” She’s ordinary and that’s why she’s (mentally) fine, because she’s not “great.”

Kristine: Right, right. That’s what Bergman thinks, I think. And sure, it’s problematic and sexist.

Sean: I mean who do you identify with? Alma? Or Johan?

Kristine: Johan is like depressed folks who won’t take mood stabilizers cause they are worried it will block their creativity.

Sean: It is….

Kristine: I identify with… Masturbating Sadistic Aristocrat No. 3.

Sean: Wow.

Kristine: No, not to cop out, but I honestly identify with both Johan and Alma equally. I have been in some weird, intense relationships with really smart people where I was trying to get in their heads and in their lives, even when it looked like no fun to be them. And I think I have been that person for other people.

Sean:I honestly watch this movie from a distant place, from a remove. I don’t feel any sense of identification with either of them. But I have always only been the crazy person, so… Can I just say how spectacular those aristocrats are? Especially the two women and the Bela Lugosi lookalike. So depraved and giddy and weird. I think all those scenes are amazing.

Johan’s artistic “process” involves shouting, “Show me your fat shoulders, fattie and be quick about it!” at his model.

Kristine: I agree the aristocrat scenes were fun and totally hard to watch in the best way. That dinner party – I was dying throughout the whole thing.

Sean: Yes. And the ending? With them all gathered in those weird tableaus? And the woman on the table?

Kristine: That last scene, with them perched and squatting and masturbating and leering and posed… You know what it reminded me of?

Sean: Eyes Wide Shut?

Kristine: Paula Abdul’s video for “Cold Hearted Snake”.

Sean: Um… you just blew my mind.

Kristine: Thanks.

Sean: The movie was also very The Cook, the Thief, His Wife and Her Lover.

Kristine: I absolutely agree with that.

Sean: Bohemian aristocratic decadence…

Kristine: Yep. They were vile beyond belief but hilarious (like the Greenaway).

Sean: Here’s the thing – the most interesting/weirdest part of the movie for me is all the weird genderfuck homoeroticism in it.

Kristine: Well, the fishing scene was arresting and crazed.

Sean: I think the most intentionally eroticized image in the entire movie is the body of the 10-year-old boy in his little bathing cozzie. And that is… something.

Kristine: When the boy was standing behind Johan and the scene kept dragging on and on? And the sun was shining and Johan keeps winding his pole and the tension is like, ‘Ohmyfuckinggod push him already!’ I was ripping off my toes during that scene and throwing them across the room and then I would reaffix them and then rip them off again. So, as he explains that scene to Alma – it’s the demon of his sexual experimentation?

Has Lionel Richie seen this movie? You figure it out.

Sean: The whole thing is also kind of pederastic. “He’s behind me, I’m behind him. We can put our dicks in each other!” I mean, what did you think of the camera eroticizing that little boy’s body? Like he was a sunbathing bombshell?

Kristine: I thought it was blatant and striking and disturbing. I thought how Bergman was able to create such an environment of menace when nothing is actually happening was pretty masterful.

Sean: YES. I agree with that 1,000% (and enter: David Lynch). And then at the end when Johan is in makeup and lipstick and that swishy robe? See, I really feel like part of the movie is about wrangling with weird desires to transcend gender, to play and experiment with sex and gender, and the movie really demonizes those desires and is afraid of them.

Kristine: I agree that that is what the movie is saying, but the feminization of Johan was not as striking to me as the fishing boy. I didn’t read that so much as a gay thing as it was that he was in a frenzy and just at the mercy of the aristoCUNTS and their games and tomfoolery.

Sean: But come on. The aristocrats are coded feminine and queer and swishy.

Kristine: Right… I just didn’t feel the scene was as effective as the other.

Sean: Well, you’re wrong.

Kristine: Oh really?

Sean: The violence of the boy attack and also when the professor guy strikes Max back were both really effective. I mean, that feral, sexualized violent child was… off the chain. I mean, is that supposed to be Johan as a boy? Or is it an avatar of gayboy lustiness?

Kristine: That’s what I said, dummy. I said the lipstick-application-robe-donning scene was not as effective as the feral sexualized child scene.

Sean: And I said you’re wrong.

Kristine: Well, you are wrong. I did love the professor hitting Johan. It was shocking and awesome.

Bergman’s version of the Rorschach test: If you look at this image and see a murdered homosexual nymphet, then you’re a certified “genius.”

Sean: Yes it was amazing. You know Bergman wrote a script and it became two movies: this one and Persona, and he said of this one, “It is too personal” and was upset.

Kristine: That scene is a good example of one of my problems with the movie. It descends into silliness, and that scene was too silly to me. I also was like, necrophilia, big whoop.

Sean: Oh I think it is camp gloriousness.

Kristine: Silly.

Sean: I like when the movie really goes for it.

Kristine: You know I usually like that too, and I felt like it did with the boy and it worked. But dead Veronica was a big whatever for me. Though the voyeuristic aristocrats were awesome and campy and fun.

Sean: Hmm. I mean, that is the Gothic climax of the movie. And Bergman is so playing with the aesthetics of ‘30s monster movies and German Expressionism there. The Bela Lugosi guy….

Kristine: He was great, but I can like parts and reject parts of the climax. It is my right as an American.

Sean: You are a choosey mom who chooses Jiff. And it is annoying.

Kristine: You are annoying. You love the silliness because you are a silly queer, tripping through the daisies.

Sean: You are all “Da, dat es gut, Liv Ullman, I relaten!”

Kristine: Shut up. Let’s talk about David Lynch and the tradition of surrealism.

Sean: Ok. One of the things we talked about on the phone that I want to touch on is why surrealism is such an effective tool for transmitting horror in a way that linear narratives just aren’t.

Derivative. Derivative. Derivative.

Kristine: Sure. Because you can show indelible, horrifying images that tap into primal fears and you don’t have to introduce them with narrative.

Sean: I think audiences (esp. horror audiences) become immune to the tropes of narrative.

Kristine: Right.

Sean: And they prepare themselves for it because we’ve gotten bored with narrative, or at least overexposed to it. And so surrealism opens up a “new space,” one where we don’t know what’s coming and where we encounter things “raw” because we don’t foresee them.

Kristine: I agree.

Sean: So in a way, surrealism is the perfect antidote for postmodern malaise.

Kristine: Isn’t it interesting though, how we cant seem to desensitize ourselves to certain longstanding icks? Like Bird Beak Boys or Insect Men?

Sean: So yes, surrealism taps into a dark, primordial place. I think David Lynch has put some of the most terrifying things to film of any director. Some that spring to mind: Mrs. Palmer remembering Bob crouched at the foot of the bed in Laura’s room on Twin Peaks, the dumpster sequence in Mulholland Drive, and the weird man with lipstick in Lost Highway played by Robert Blake.

Kristine: I still cannot fucking believe that Bob scene was on network television in the early ‘90s. It’s unbelievably scary and fucked up and I cannot believe it aired.

Sean: It really is the most terrifying thing in America. I mean, I would bet money Lynch has seen Hour of the Wolf. It and Eraserhead are on some kind of relative continuum…

Kristine: It is. Hour of the Wolf reminded me of Lynch very early on, when the hat lady came up to Alma and was all, “I am 217. Or 76. Read your husband’s diary. Bye.”

Sean: You are killing me.

Kristine: Right? Just randoms coming up and being random but it is integral to the plot. Total dwarf from Twin Peaks: “Her arms bend behind her back… She is full of secrets.” That could have totally been in this movie. Lynch has definitely seen this.

Sean: Oh my god.

Kristine: Can we talk about the Insect Man scene? I loved it. I was cackling with delight. After he walks up the wall onto the ceiling, when he is leading Johan to fuck Veronica Vogler, and he says, “It’s only jealousy, please go away.” Also, VV was not gorgeous. At all.

Sean: Love the ceiling walking. That’s exactly the kind of unexpected shit that surrealism allows for.

Hallucinations of tiny little puppet men = massive inferiority complex. Or at least that’s what I heard on Oprah.

Kristine: Yep. I will say though, just from the art world perspective, that surrealism as a tradition in painting is like the most played out, dumb thing to be a fan of. I mean, if someone is like, My favorite painter is Salvador Dalí? Then it’s like, Goodbye. Go back to 7th grade.

Sean: I had Dali prints hanging in my bedroom in middle school.

Kristine: America did. But it’s just, I don’t know… It’s not a very interesting tradition, at least in painting. But then in film it has so many more possibilities.

Sean: See Luis Buñuel.

Kristine: You mentioned you didn’t like Alma’s intro/outro as a framing device. Was it because their dour nature took away from the campy surrealism of the rest of the film?

Sean: Dour is the perfect word to describe them. Here’s what the intro/outro are like: Liv Ullman looking like she probably has a booger in her nostril, all pulling herself up to the table and being like…. “Das es my truth!”

Kristine: You don’t think she is beautiful?

Sean: She is. But this role in this movie does her no favors. Remember when Johan yells at her “Get over there fatty!” During her morbid, self-serious monologues I was just like “Arrghh! Frumpy domestic goddesses are such a bore!”

Kristine: That outro. She is all in a black turtleneck, head floating on a black screen. Her being all like “He’s still mah man!” All I could think of was… THIS.

Sean: It is heterolady minstrelry. And speaking of Sinéad, have you heard about her on Twitter being like “I’d like some sex, please!” Being all “#analonthemenu!”

Kristine: I have been following the chronicles of Sinéad, it is amazing. Remember when she was talking about “the difficult brown”??? I was dying. I died.

Sean: And her Twitter-promoted suicide attempt? It is just too much.

Kristine: And her buying crack on her wedding night

Sean: I just remember in the 1990s when it seemed like Sinéad was this untouchable radiant being of pure light who was this genderqueer rebel, and then she hangs out with Courtney Love for two seconds and the next day its like, she is pregnant and running away off into the mists of Middle-Earth….

Kristine: The difficult brown, Sean.

Sean: Remember the uproar over her Pope-ripping on Saturday Night Live? I still get mad when I think about how people reacted to that. It was like, Dixie-Chicks-backlash-level misogyny on the loose.

Kristine: Would Sinéad love Hour of the Wolf or would she be like, “This is bullocks! Get me a pint and a rugby player to penetrate the difficult brown!”

Sean: Sinéad on a sad day would cry over its profundity.

Kristine: But on a manic day she would be one of cackling aristocrats.

Sean: On a manic day she’d snort a Glade Plug-In and break the television set. So, Kristine, does Hour of the Wolf qualify as a horror movie legitimately?

Kristine: I say yes. You?

Sean: Hell yes, and I actually think it’s intentionally in dialogue with horror movies and horror tropes.

Kristine: Do some dissent?

Sean: I’m sure many dissent. Lots of hardcore horror fans can be weird and tunnel-visioned about what’s horror and what “isn’t.”

Kristine: Okay, in summation, I was moved by the themes of the movie. The genius/madness question and also Alma’s Lament (that sounds like a name of a Norwegian cough syrup) that maybe if she had loved Johan less (by which I think she means, have been less deferential) she could have protected him better. That moved me.

Sean: Alma’s Lament is an herbal contraceptive.

Kristine: Alma’s Lament is a homeopathic anti-diarrheal. But I thought the movie was felled by silliness and lack of cohesion. Oh, and I forgot, I really wanted to ask you about one other part – when Johan is telling Alma about being locked in the cabinet as a boy with the man who will gnaw on your toes? React.

Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Cover: Swedish Pedophile Edition

Sean: I loved it! It’s a great creepy story, very effective and it sounds “true.” Like a real story a kid would concoct.

Kristine: Yes. Classic Grimm Bros. shit, right? I loved it too. Very “real.”

Sean: Yeah, the movie is sort of amazing, but sort of a big bore, and sort of a pretensh-fest.

Kristine: Except for the universal relatability of Alma. All sentient creatures relate to her plight

Sean: Alma go blow your nose, I says. And clean your lint-trap while you’re at it.

Kristine: Alma’s Lament.

Sean: Doesn’t it seem like her hoo-ha would smell like bellybutton lint?

Kristine: Shut up, Sean. So, does the movie want us to believe she goes nuts, too?

Sean: No, she doesn’t go nuts. She spends her days “haunted” by the “tragedy.”

Kristine: Ugh! And ironing panties.

Sean: But I do like how Johan goes missing and it’s just like, he’s gone. It’s unexplained. I like that.

Kristine: Did you like Johan’ death scene? I thought it was pretty tight.

Sean: I am fascinated by how often horror movies imagine high society types as depraved perverse monsters.

Kristine: It’s true.

Sean: It’s the flipside of the Texas Chain Saw Massacre  “all hillbillies are inbred cannibal pigfuckers” thing.

Kristine: Ha, right.

Sean: On either end of the spectrum: perversion. Very few horror movies make hay of the middle class average life (Poltergeist is one, however). It’s mostly always at the extreme ends. Poverty or filthy wealth: both are always debauched and perverse!

Kristine: Well… you know me, I hate to gossip but based on working in the art world, that is one stereotype that more often than not is true.

Sean: Like depraved art madams?

Kristine: May I tell you a tale?

Sean: Please.

Kristine: You have to understand that while some of the places I have worked for deal with incredibly high-value artwork, at the end of the day we are “the help” and thus no one feels much need to hide their true colors around us. One of the VIP clients of my former employer was a very wealthy developer based in Dallas. He regularly had our art handlers out to move around the art in his house, including in his… sex dungeon.

Sean: Steve Martin paints those high-rolling collectors with an almost benign, sympathetic brush in An Object of Beauty.

Kristine: Well, that’s just because he is one.

Sean: Woah. Does Steve Martin have a sex dungeon? Kristine, people have sex dungeons.

Kristine: There are human cages, racks, iron maidens, a hot tub on a plexiglass platform (so you can stand underneath it and look at genitalia), and a row of closets filled with fetish outfits. Each closet was marked with a ladies size – from zero to 8. I guess no fatties allowed.

Sean: Oh god.

Kristine: And the warehouse guys from my job would just go in, change out the Warhol and get their tip.

Sean: Size zero fetish outfits? People are so boring even when they have sex dungeons.

Kristine: I know, right? Another guy from a very famous and wealthy Texas family would have lines of coke out all over his house (he is not a young guy either, in his 50s) and always challenge the art handlers to wrestle with him in this one room where he had a judo mat laid out.

Sean: Um gay.

Kristine: All sweaty and coked up and wanting to wrestle.

Sean: Ugh. So I just wanted to mention that Hour of the Wolf came out the same year as Rosemary’s Baby and Night of the Living Dead and I don’t know why, but that’s weird.

Kristine: I was thinking about Rosemary’s Baby because Alma was pregs.

Sean: Those three movies seem like they’re from three different universes to me.

Kristine: This one is the most internal, right?

Sean: Yes.

Kristine: Like I said.

Ratings Round-Up

The Girl’s rating: Nice try, folks! AND Problematic, but fun as hell.

The Freak’s rating: Problematic, but fun as hell.


12 thoughts on “Movie Discussion: Ingmar Bergman’s Hour of the Wolf [Vargtimmen] (1968)

  1. Agreed: Nykvist’s work is AMAZING. It was The Virgin Spring that made me sit up and take notice of him, even though I’d seen things he’d shot before that, albeit unknowingly (like, um…. Sleepless in Seattle, which is just totally bizarre).

  2. I love this movie, I didn’t really analyze it. Wolf Creek is worse than anything in it: especially when the guy eviscerates the chick with the bowie knife and then breaks her neck,

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s