CFS drama ‘whispers’

Cristina Franzi

This week the Cultural Film Series is showing an intense and powerful drama revolving around the interrelationships of four women. “Cries and Whispers,” a 1972 period piece directed by legendary Swedish director Ingmar Bergman, takes place at the turn of the 20th century in a remote manor house, where Agnes, an unmarried woman in her late 30s, is on her deathbed. Agnes is attended by her two emotionally unstable sisters and her faithful servant, Anna, who have come to stay at her bedside. Bergmann choreographs the women’s different responses to Agnes’s demise, largely through evocative flashbacks. Thus, we are provided with insights as to why, while the sisters want to be close, they cannot provide Agnes with the solace and emotional support she needs; only the loving and devoted Anna can.

As in many of his works, “Cries and Whispers” reflects Bergman’s fixations with religion, mortality and the human psyche. However, unlike most of his previous films, which are in black and white, “Cries and Whispers” is in color. Color is used symbolically here, with a distinction between the bland, washed-out landscapes and the mansion’s blood-red interiors. Since red represents for Bergman “the interior of the soul…the inside of the woman,” it makes sense that he uses it repeatedly throughout the movie.

It is hard to believe today, with Bergman widely considered one of the world’s greatest living auteurs, that the director had a difficult time financing this project. Apparently, the cause of this was his previous film, “The Touch,” which did not do well at the box office. Bergman ended up using his own money to finance the film, as well as asking the actors for help; they agreed and ended up producing the film themselves.

It has become one of Bergman’s most honored and acclaimed films, even becoming one of the few foreign language films to ever earn a Best Picture Oscar nomination.

“Cries and Whispers” will be screened in the Connelly Center Cinema: Saturday, Sept. 27 at 7 p.m., Sunday, Sept. 28 at 3:30 and 7 p.m., and Monday, Sept. 29 at 7 p.m. Admission is $3 for students. and $4 for all others. Gerard Molyneaux, F.S.C., will be at the Monday evening screening only. Br. Gerry, director of the communication department at La Salle, will both introduce the film and lead discussion.