Saturday, 21 February 2009

Bergman's Three Strange Loves

Much of my work is about memory. My own and that of others. Remembering Bergman’s Three Strange Loves requires a good memory because it is one of those films with compartmentalised stories, which also interact, so although you find a part absorbing you are aware that is part of a whole. If you are in theatre remembering detail becomes impossible so you rely on any available film notes or critical comments to remember and form a considered judgement. There are films where a lot more is remembered. Much is about feelings.

I saw this film on DVD in October 2006 and now 5 months later, the words help to conjure mood and fleeting scenes. As with the Silence ,the film centre on train journeys, It was made in 1946 and contains a train journey through war destroyed Germany with the train besieged my hungry people during a stop.

One of my aunts lived in Germany just after the end of the war, with her soldier husband and she conveyed something of the atmosphere. Too often war films made over the past three decades, fail to convey the fear and desperation, the devastation and horror nightmare which the majority of the population of the cities and major towns experience in most countries of Europe. This si the nightmare which Hitler and German forces created and should never be forgotten.

The film opens with a whirlpool and there is one weekend moment at the commencement of the film where the couple have a weekend away and we are in the familiar Bergman territory of water, boats and countryside.

This is the story of a trained ballet and general dancer who is subsequently injured and debates changing to a career as a folk singer. She is used to attention and controlling men through her sexuality and looks. She is prone to talk about herself and her problems, she is inclined to drink too much, especially at night and this only makes her humour and relationships more difficult.

The title of the film three strange loves suggests three different kinds of relationships between three sets of couples and here I found some confusion.
The first relationship is between the girl, as a young woman and a married soldier, although she does not know he is married with three children, until the weekend/holiday together. He appears to subsequently spend time between his wife and his young mistress and his wife comes to the home of the mistress to look her over in an act of desperation to protect herself and her children. This coincides with the mistress admitting she is pregnant three to four months along the way and her uncertainty of when provokes her lover to question paternity and to break with her. I am not clear if she subsequently become unable to have anther child because of natural complications in which loses the child or because of a bungled abortion.

This affects her subsequent life and relationships as it would anyone, but in her case more so. It affects the relationship with her husband, coming to a head during the journey back from the trip where she has accompanied her husband via a scholarship bursary to Italy and other places, and where she meets the former lover as he passes in the train in the opposite direction going on holiday by train returning by plane, the reverse of their venture. Their conversation is a social which on the surface is devoid of the emotions which governed their relationship. I could not remember if the former lover was with his wife or a new woman.

During the latter stages of the train journey the husband becomes so fed up with the behaviour of his wife, especially her lack of control over money, although he appears controlling in an opposite direction, that he imagines he has killed her. However the sexual bond between them and underlying affecting triumphs over their problems in a moment of mutual passion as the film ends and they return home on midsummer's day, a day when it used to be/ perhaps remains traditional for people to dance the night away literally.

My confusion uncertainty remains over the nature of their form of love, which I think is about the love a woman has for her husband who has died some 15 years before. There is a scene at the cemetery and meeting up with a former school friend who has a photograph of the films central character although I am unclear of the connection with three of them. my interpretation is that the former friend attempts to seduce the widow who is tempted but draws back running off and there is also the suggestion that she takes her own life by going into water, but I may be off kilter by a wide margin about this third strange love. I came across on review which did not appear to help until I studied the photos and from sets of stills and it seems that the husband had a relationship with the former school friend who attempts to seduce the widow.

There is a minor relationship between the widow and a practicing doctor who attempts to seduce her, and she has to break away with him threatening that she will have a great breakdown unless she responds to his request.

There were aspects of this film which interested but I would not view again compared to Autumn Sonata, Through a glass darkly, and Wild strawberries. It is a film of substance. Anyone reading this could be discouraged for seeing the film, but all that has happened is that I have admitted my inadequacies, in memory, in critical understanding and literacy.

I have failed to explain why the loves are strange. I am very tired and will try Sleep ather than persevere. I had intended to also cover Saraband and the World in Pictures, an Almodovar and the second quartet of Lost so the day is ending in failure.

What do we remember of past loves an relationships when we are old. Does it matter and why is the love relationships of others of interest to us. Do we imagine we learn? I will not give in to sleep.

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