Hans Alfredson

Shame (1968, Ingmar Bergman)

Shame has three or four sections. Director Bergman doesn’t draw a lot of attention to the transition between the first parts, he hides it in the narrative. Liv Ullmann and Max von Sydow are a married couple living on an island following a war. Not much information about the war, but they’re concert violinists turned farmers. Their problems are relatively trivial–von Sydow’s unsuited for their new life–and their bickering, while not exactly cute, reveals their tenderness and partnership.

Bergman moves Shame from this domestic drama territory into what should feel more familiar–von Sydow and Ullmann are suspected of being collaborators. Bergman is precise with everything related to the context of the war. He moves the war–its machines, its soldiers–through the existing setting. Through fantastic photography from Sven Nykvist and editing from Ulla Ryghe, great sound design, the war, which can’t surprise von Sydow and Ullmann, can’t surprise the viewer either. Except to recognize the lack of reaction. Bergman doesn’t desensitize, he encompasses the viewer in the despair.

And then Shame changes again. Because the viewer’s already submerged, the change isn’t jarring. It’s almost tranquil, even as the film’s action becomes more and more perilous, the relationship between von Sydow and Ullmann becoming poisonous just to observe. Everyone is trapped, viewer included.

The film hinges on the performances, of course. von Sydow and Ullmann are both extraordinary. He gets better material second half, she first.

Shame’s exceptional. Bergman’s conciseness, Ullmann and von Sydow; so great.



Written and directed by Ingmar Bergman; director of photography, Sven Nykvist; edited by Ulla Ryghe; production designer, R.A. Lundgren; produced by Lars-Owe Carlberg; released by AB Svensk Filmindustri.

Starring Liv Ullmann (Eva Rosenberg), Max von Sydow (Jan Rosenberg), Sigge Fürst (Filip), Gunnar Björnstrand (Jacobi), Birgitta Valberg (Mrs. Jacobi), Gösta Prüzelius (the vicar) and Hans Alfredson (Fredrik).

The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest (2009, Daniel Alfredson), the extended edition

The first half of The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest falls victim to the Halloween II phenomenon. The main character–in this case Noomi Rapace–is in the hospital and out of commission. Hornet’s Nest is never comfortable giving insight into Rapace’s actions, which makes it a mildly pointless final entry.

I mean, a Hollywood ending was unlikely, but director Alfredson doesn’t seem to get he can’t flipflop between Rapace being the protagonist and subject.

So instead of Rapace, much of the film concerns Michael Nyqvist and Lena Endre bickering over magazine publishing issues and these evil old Swedish guys manipulating everyone. Some strong casting makes all the difference.

Niklas Falk shows up in this installment as an ally for Nyqvist and gives a complex performance in a small role. And Annika Hallin, as Nyqvist’s sister and Rapace’s lawyer, is fantastic. She owns the second half of Hornet’s Nest, which is basically a courtroom drama.

Or, you know, it could have been one if so much attention wasn’t paid to the bad guys.

Hornet’s Nest has a big problem with bad guys. There are real bad guys, the ones who actually hurt Rapace, and those who conspired against her. The latter are weak villains, the former are good though.

It’s not good–the endless first half reveals the ludicrousness of the story. It’s a huge conspiracy against a specific target, constantly introducing new plot contrivances.

The second half succeeds enough to forgive the first.

Until the soft ending anyway….



Directed by Daniel Alfredson; screenplay by Ulf Ryberg, based on the novel by Stieg Larsson; director of photography, Peter Mokrosinski; edited by Håkan Karlsson; music by Jacob Groth; produced by Søren Stærmose; released by Nordisk Film.

Starring Noomi Rapace (Lisbeth Salander), Michael Nyqvist (Mikael Blomkvist), Lena Endre (Erika Berger), Annika Hallin (Annika Giannini), Sofia Ledarp (Malin Erikson), Jacob Ericksson (Christer Malm), Georgi Staykov (Alexander Zalachenko), Aksel Morisse (Anders Jonasson), Niklas Hjulström (Ekström), Micke Spreitz (Ronald Niedermann), Anders Ahlbom (Dr. Peter Teleborian), Hans Alfredson (Evert Gullberg), Lennart Hjulström (Fredrik Clinton), Carl-Åke Eriksson (Bertil Janeryd), Per Oscarsson (Holger Palmgren), Michalis Koutsogiannakis (Dragan Armanskij), Mirja Turestedt (Monica Figuerola) and Johan Kylén (Inspector Jan Bublanski).

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