“Hour of the Wolf” (1968) – Taking a sharp detour away from blood, guts and gore and toward surreal imagery and artful horror, writer/director Ingmar Bergman’s “Hour of the Wolf” is a bizarre, but mesmerizing film.
Although the movie’s title suggests that Bergman’s picture is about a wolf man, no such creature makes an appearance. Instead, “Hour of the Wolf” is a haunting tale of isolation and madness that is also beautifully filmed, edited and packaged, and it will most likely leave the audience with many questions at the film’s conclusion.
Now, at the beginning, Bergman sets up the events of the movie’s 90 minutes by stating that artist Johan Borg (Max von Sydow) disappeared without a trace, but with the help of his diary and conversations with his wife Alma (Liv Ullmann), this film tries to explain his story. As she reflects on the sorry turn of events that left her alone on a windy and desolate island in the North Sea, Alma looks forlorn and deeply sad.
Due to Johan preferring isolation, this locale perfectly suited his needs, and while initially comfortable, he kindly insists that Alma act as his artistic muse. This emotional working-bond also comes with loving hugs, smiles of admiration and a deep sense of belonging.
Time and life, however, are kinetic animals, and love and respect can morph into disinterest and contempt, as Johan’s journey takes a strange, and potentially hallucinatory, turn.
No question, “Hour of the Wolf” is a polarizing turn into psychological horror, but challenging experiences can also be the most worthwhile.
Image credits: Lopert Pictures Corporation; Trailer credits: Movieclips Classic Trailers