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SPECIFICATIONS
  • 1.66:1 Widescreen
  • English Dolby Digital 1.0 Mono
  • Swedish PCM Mono
  • English subtitles
  • 1 Disc
FEATURES
  • Introduction by Ingmar Bergman from 2001
  • New interview with actor Harriet Andersson, conducted by film scholar Peter Cowie
  • New video essay on the film's visuals by filmmaker ::kogonada
  • Behind-the-scenes footage with commentary by Cowie
  • Ingmar Bergman: Reflections on Life, Death, and Love with Erland Josephson (2000), a 52-minute interview with Bergman and his longtime collaborator
  • Trailer

Cries and Whispers

Blu-ray
Reviewed by: Chris Galloway

Directed By: Ingmar Bergman
Starring: Harriet Andersson, Kari Sylwan, Ingrid Thulin, Liv Ullmann, Anders Ek, Inga Gill, Erland Josephson, Henning Moritzen, Georg Arlin
1972 | 91 Minutes | Licensor: Svensk Filmindustri

Release Information
Blu-ray | MSRP: $ | Series: The Criterion Collection | Edition: #101
Sony Pictures Home Entertainment

Release Date: March 31, 2015
Review Date: May 3, 2015

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SYNOPSIS

This existential wail of a drama from Ingmar Bergman concerns two sisters, Karin (Ingrid Thulin) and Maria (Liv Ullmann), keeping vigil for a third, Agnes (Harriet Andersson), who is dying of cancer and can find solace only in the arms of a beatific nurse (Kari Sylwan). An intensely felt film that may be Bergman's most striking formal experiment, Cries and Whispers (which won an Oscar for the extraordinary color photography of Sven Nykvist) is a powerful depiction of human behavior in the face of death, positioned on the borders between reality and nightmare, tranquillity and terror.

Discuss the film and Blu-ray here   


PICTURE

Criterion upgrades Ingmar Bergmanís Cries and Whispers to Blu-ray, presenting the film in its original aspect ratio of 1.66:1 on a dual-layer disc. The high-definition 1080p/24hz presentation comes from

Bergmanís film is rich with reds in the backgrounds, costumes, and, on occasion, the lighting and those reds pop here. Their rich and vibrant, a far purer red than what the previous DVD could handle, where the reds were closer to an orange. The image on this disc is admittedly brighter in comparison to the DVD but this aspect doesnít affect the tone or look of the film, and the darker scenes, though the blacks can still come off a bit crushed, are easier to see.

The image is exceptionally crisp for the most part, with a few shots here and there coming off a bit fuzzy. These brief instances look to be related to an issue with the source materials or shooting conditions rather than something to do with the transfer since film grain still looks fairly sharp. Detail is superb, especially on close-ups, with longer shots appearing far more clearly here than on the DVD, and all objects are cleanly defined. The restoration work has been superb as well, as I donít recall any severe blemishes. Film grain remains and looks mostly clean, though I noticed some blocky patterns. On the whole, though, the image is quite stunning, the film looking like it was filmed just recently.

8/10

All Blu-ray screen captures come from the source disc and have been shrunk from 1920x1080 to 900x506 and slightly compressed to conserve space. While they are not exact representations they should offer a general idea of overall video quality.

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AUDIO

The disc yet again features both the original Swedish track (presented in lossless linear PCM 1.0 mono) and then an optional English dub track (available in Dolby Digital 1.0 mono).

Like with the DVD the Swedish track is the better one in terms of quality, but it also clearly surpasses the DVDís mono track. Though Bergmanís films are rarely prime candidates for showing off oneís audio system (and this one is no different) it still manages to sound far richer. Fidelity comes off a bit better with natural sounding dialogue, and the various screams have noticeable range. The various whispers and other aural effects the happen throughout the film also sound a bit crisper. Itís still a fairly basic mono track, but I found it a richer experience, even if the improvements are really only subtle.

The English track may be the same one from the DVD and itís a fairly bland experience: flat and without fidelity, it clearly shows its age. Iíd say it was more of a curiosity than anything else.

6/10

SUPPLEMENTS

Criterionís special edition upgrades the supplements substantially (the previous DVD only had one on-disc supplement). The first supplements is an introduction by Ingmar Bergman, recorded in 2003 by Marie NyerŲd. This is one of the introductions found within the collection of them that Criterion included on their original DVD of Fanny & Alexander. Running about 7-minutes the director talks about how he came up with the idea for the film, based on an image he had of a red room with a figure in it. Following this is an interview featuring actress Harriet Andersson recorded for this release and conducted by scholar Peter Cowie. Andersson recalls the shoot, the use of red, and the filming of certain scenes, like the scene where Anna cradles her character in bed, and she also talks a bit about the relationship between the sisters and the maid. This interview runs about 20-minutes.

Criterion also includes on-set footage that comes with a commentary by Cowie. The footage is basically an edited together compilation of home movies showing behind-the-scenes moments, along with some press conference footage (all of which is silent). The footage (which appears to be upscaled from a standard-definition source) shows a surprisingly light and breezy set, as well as the amount of work that went into setting up sequences and the lighting. You also get to see Bergman directing his cast and working with his DP to set up shots. Cowie talks a little bit about what we see and gives some back story to the production, the filmís reception, and then talks a little about the cast. I was disappointed that the release still lacked an audio commentary for the feature but this is a decent (though not wholly satisfying) alternative.

The original DVDís lone special feature, Ingmar Bergman: Reflections on Life, Death, and Love with Erland Josephson thankfully makes it over. The 52-minute interview, featuring Bergman and Josephson talking with interviewer Malou von Sivers, has the two participants talk extensively about themselves, covering their work together and such, though talk more about their personal lives (which they are surprisingly open about, admitting to their mistakes). They also touch on the subjects in the title, particularly love and death. Not specific to Cries and Whispers and admittedly itís not very focused on their work, but itís an enjoyable and worthwhile addition.

Criterion then provides a visual essay called On Solace created by ::kogonada, who also provided visual essays on Criterionís releases of La dolce vita and King of the Hill. Here he looks at the three act structure of the film, comparing the two acts that revolve around the two surviving sisters and then how the final act, which revolves around the maid Anna, differs. Itís an okay essay, decently put together, but I donít know if it revealed anything new.

The disc closes with the filmís original theatrical trailer (for North America I assume) and the included insert includes a lengthy essay by film scholar Emma Wilson. Peter Cowieís essay found with the original DVD has not been carried over.

Overall itís a nice improvement, though I would have appreciated a commentary or maybe a visual essay by Cowie instead of ::kogonada, but I still found the material mostly engaging.

8/10

CLOSING

A very strong upgrade featuring a vast improvement in the area of image and supplements, making it worth picking up even if you already own the original Criterion DVD.


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