The famous painter Johan Borg (Max von Sydow) is going through a frightening creative crisis – he is losing control over the personages of his paintings – objects of his own inspirations (beings he himself made alive). His wife Alma (Liv Ullmann), whom we see in the still above, desperately tries to help her husband, but doesn’t know how. She knows where Johan hides his diary and wants to get more information about his predicament to help him better. When Johan left to paint on nature, as he does every morning, Alma decided to secretly read his diary, but her discretion as a decent person makes her hesitate. It’s in this moment we see her. She wants to go to take her husband’s diary, but she stops herself – she knows that Johan hides his thoughts connected with his work and sketches of the models he modifies in his paintings. She is on her way to his diary, but she forces herself to stop. How do we know this? By her “unoccupied” posture, by hesitating position of her arms and hands, but mainly, by “self-contradicting” position of Alma’s legs.

We see her standing, but her legs are, as if, walking. She is, as if, artificially de-posing herself. The hesitation of her legs makes them, as if, twisted by doubt, not straight. Her legs, as if, not straight because she has contradictory intentions. Her whole body is a contradiction in action. To express in front of camera the ambiguity of Alma’s intentionality in this moment demands de-straightening of her legs. Can we imagine any commercial Hollywood director showing the leading female star with legs which cannot brag to the whole world about their impeccably straight shape? But for Bergman it is much more important to express the truth about the heroine’s psychological condition in a certain moment, than to emphasize her straight legs. Even in the tiny moment of action we see here, there is a drastic difference between commercial movie-directors and serious artists like Bergman or the difference between a female movie-star making grand success with her legs and other appealing visual spots – and a real actresses like Liv Ullmann. The permanently moving in time truth of life is barely compatible with (and if combinable – prevails over) the posing body’s appeal for success.

Posted on Nov, 11 ’15 –   “Hour Of The Wolf” (1968) By Ingmar Bergman by Acting-Out Politics

Posted on Sep, 23 ’15 –   Ingmar Bergman’s “Hour of the Wolf/Vargtimmen” (1968) – When People Cannot Differentiate Between Internal and External Worlds And Then Take One For Another by Acting-Out Politics