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The Passion of Anna

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En Passion (1970)

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Liv Ullmann plays the widowed, crippled Anna Fromm, who while traveling on a remote island calls upon reclusive ex-convict Andreas (Max von Sydow) in order to use his telephone. After Anna leaves, Andreas discovers she's left her purse behind; he opens it, hoping to find some identification. A letter in the purse details Anna's unhappy marriage and the depths of her loneliness. Eventually, Anna moves in with Andreas, who has become more closely acquainted with her through the intervention of Anna's friends Ellis and Evan Vergerus (Bibi Andersson and Erland Josephson). But tensions and conflicts ensue, and threaten to destroy the burgeoning relationship between Anna and Andreas.

The audience is introduced to Andreas Winkelman, a man living alone and emotionally desolate after the recent demise of his marriage. He meets Anna, who is grieving the recent deaths of her husband and son. She uses a cane as a result of the car crash that killed them. While Anna uses Andreas' phone, he listens to her conversation, after which she departs visibly distraught. Anna has left her handbag behind and Andreas searches it, finding and reading a letter from her husband that will later prove she is deceptive.

Andreas is friends with a married couple, Eva and Elis (mutual friends of Anna) who are also in the midst of psychological turmoil. Elis is an amateur photographer who organizes his work based on emotion. Eva feels Elis has grown tired of her and has problems sleeping. One night while Elis is away, Eva visits Andreas, as she is bored and lonely. They listen to music and drink wine, which makes them drowsy, and finally Eva sleeps for several hours. When she wakes up, they have sex. Afterward, she explains that during her only pregnancy years ago, she went to the hospital to treat her insomnia. The medicine they gave her helped her condition but killed the child. She conveys that it allowed her and Elis to share a moment of emotional affinity.

Andreas visits Elis whom he promised could photograph him. Elis leaves the room for a moment and Eva enters. In their conversation, Eva reveals that Anna has moved in with Andreas, and though she is not displeased (as she likes both of them), she warns him to be wary of Anna. Elis enters the room; when Eva asks him why he looks angry, he says he only gets angry at human trifles (alluding to the affair). Their relationship is not passionate but Andreas and Anna start off relatively content. Anna appears zealous in her faith and steadfast in her search for truth, but gradually her delusions surface-reinforced by what Andreas read in the letter. For his part, Andreas is unable to overcome his feelings of deep humiliation about himself and remains disconnected, further dooming the relationship with Anna, as he prefers solitude and freedom to companionship. Throughout the film, an unknown person among the island community commits acts of animal cruelty, hanging a dog and violently killing cattle. A friend of Andreas is wrongly accused of these crimes, leading the community to threaten and beat him, catalyzing his suicide. Within a few days of the friend's death, Anna and Andreas have a physical fight during which they reveal their strong distaste for each other. Afterwards Anna lays in bed while Andreas follows two firetrucks that passed his home. They were headed to a large barn fire. When Andreas arrives, he is told that the unknown man who is the true culprit of the animal cruelty covered a barn full of animals in gasoline and lit it on fire, locking the animals in. It is obvious to the community that Andreas' friend was unjustly abused and committed suicide because of flimsy human suspicion, therefore, chances for healing are lost.

Anna shows up at the fire in her car. Andreas gets in. As they drive down the road beside the sea, Andreas explains that he desires his solitude again and that their parting will not be difficult as neither one truly loved the other. He also reveals that he knows the truth about her husband. Anna begins to speed the car while he talks. He asks if she is going to kill him like she killed her husband and they fight over the wheel, eventually he stops the car in the flat ground beside the road. He tells her she is out of her mind. Anna drives away while Andreas paces back and forth on the side of the road.

Bergman uses his deconstructionist devices, cutting occasionally to his actors being interviewed about their characters, scratched lenses, and uncorrected muted colour, and inserts others' footage into reels. There is a black and white filmed dream sequence (that alludes to his earlier film, Shame) to contrast with Nykvist's muted colour photography.

Release Date: May 28, 1970 by United Artists


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