Shot in striking, diffused color by master cinematographer Sven Nykvist, THE PASSION OF ANNA is one of several Ingmar Bergman films of the 1960s dealing with a limited number of characters in an isolated setting--filming took place on the remote island of Fårö, where Bergman was living at the time--whose emotional and psychological imbalances eventually lead to a crisis. Max von Sydow plays Andreas, a loner who (after an initial chance encounter) becomes acquainted with the crippled widow Anna (Liv Ullmann) through their mutual friends Eva and Elis Vergerus (played by Bibi Andersson and Erland Josephson), a troubled married couple. Andreas and Anna embark on a love affair but are soon confronted with disturbing revelations about each other's pasts. Their relationship suffers irreparable damage through mutual deception, insecurities, and violent outbreaks. Meanwhile, the atmosphere of malaise and menace surrounding the characters is heightened by the presence of an unknown perpetrator on the sparsely populated island who has been brutally torturing and killing farm animals. Bergman and Nykvist's technical mastery is evident throughout the film, especially in the closing shot, which has been referred to as one of the most extraordinary and innovative in modern cinema.
A dour loner with a mysterious past escapes to an isolated island but is drawn into the lives of his neighbors, one of whom is a beautiful widow. They begin an affair, but it cannot survive their mired pasts. The four main characters eventually learn that no relationship can ever work in a world fraught with hatred and inner turmoil.
Theatrical Release |
Theatrical release: November 10, 1969 (Sweden).
Filmed on location on the island of Fårö, Sweden.
Ingmar Bergman was awarded the best director award for this film in 1970 by the National Society of Film Critics.
The dialogue in the scene in which the four main characters are seated together at dinner was partially improvised by the actors.
Bergman has the characters address the audience directly at various moments, creating a distancing effect. (The film is narrated by Bergman himself.)