- Rated: Not Rated
- Run Time: 1 hours, 59 minutes
- Video: Color
- Released: February 10, 2004
- Originally Released: 1978
- Label: MGM (Video & DVD)
- Encoding: Region 1 (USA & Canada)
- Packaging: Keep Case
- Special Edition
- Aspect Ratio: Widescreen - 1.66
- Additional Release Material:
- Audio Commentary: David Carradine - Star
- "Away From Home"
- "German Expressionism"
Performers, Cast and Crew:
Sight and Sound - 11/01/2004
"[T]he film effectively evokes a dream-like city in thrall to some unspecified evil."
This unusual political drama by Ingmar Bergman was filmed at Bavaria Film Studios in Munich during the director's exile from Sweden after encountering problems with tax officials back home. THE SERPENT'S EGG, a big-budget German-American coproduction, was Bergman's second work in English after THE TOUCH and is set in 1920s Berlin, shortly before Hitler's rise to power. Abel (David Carradine), a Jewish trapeze artist, and his late brother's wife, Manuela (Liv Ullmann), a cabaret performer and part-time prostitute, are forced to seek employment at a medical clinic run by Dr. Vergerus (Heinz Bennent), because other work is hard to come by in the poverty-stricken and inflation-prone city. But Abel and Manuela's financial problems are overshadowed by a gruesome discovery: the mad-scientist-like Vergerus is secretly conducting human experiments--foreshadowing the horrors of the concentration camps. Carradine was considered miscast by many critics who didn't know quite what to make of this film. Nightmarish and gripping, it depicts the political turmoil, ever-increasing Nazi brutality, and general moral decay of the time period in vivid, graphic images. Bergman has admitted to being a follower of Hitler's in his youth, and some have speculated that this film, deviating from the director's usual subject matter, represented an act of repentance of sorts.
As the result of political unrest, two circus performers are forced to find new jobs. They begin work in a cabalistic medical clinic where they soon uncover a horrifying secret. The film is set in 1923 Berlin, during the rise of Nazism.
- Theatrical release: October 28, 1977 (Sweden).