Hour of the Wolf (1967) started as a project for Ingmar Bergman three years before its eventual completion. It is unusual for a Bergman film to take so long, but the director’s health problems, and then the inspiration to make Persona, were responsible for the delay. 1 Bergman also made clear that the personal nature of the story led to complications in the production, including the decision to edit out much of the opening prologue. 2 The original title, The Cannibals, is instructive of Bergman’s intent in representing an artist surrounded by an aristocratic entourage who effectively devour him, and the way damage is enacted by malign elements that possess the artist’s imagination and eat away at his sense of identity. The story, in the finished film, begins in digressive fashion with a figure that we may suppose is the director, recalling how he received the diary of Johan Borg, an artist who disappeared, from his wife Alma. This information is fictitious, 3 although it obliquely refers to autobiographical elements in the film, including the pregnancy of Liv Ullmann (with Bergman’s child), who plays Alma. The story goes on to tell through a range of flashbacks how the artist Johan (played by Max von Sydow) disappeared on the island of Baltrum. I will provide a detailed analysis of the film, but before this I will look at reasons why this work in particular justifies psychoanalytical and philosophical analysis.
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- The Destruction of the Artist: Hour of the Wolf
- Palgrave Macmillan UK