Saturday, January 23, 2010

1971 - THE TOUCH, Ingmar Bergman films a story about a violent love affair in English and flops at both

Even a master filmmaker like Ingmar Bergman has to screw up once and a while and The Touch is his flop.

Bibi Andersson is in a comfortable marriage to nice guy doctor Max Von Sydow.  Into her life comes a very violent neurotic Jewish archeologist played by American actor Elliot Gould.  They have a wild semi violent affair which ends up in the breakup of her marriage.

Since the film has the production credits for ABC films,  I can only assume to get financing for this film Bergman agreed to shoot this in English instead of his native Swedish language. 

The end result is not so hot.  It's like Bergman didn't really think through his characters motivations or much less his characters.  Hard to understand exactly with Andersson sees in the Gould character since at one point he basically rapes her.  Bergman was known for his skill in writing female characters, but in The Touch he acts like he has barely spent any time with any woman.

It's also hard to understand exactly what the Gould character was angry about.  At one point he talks about how he lost all of his family in concentration camps, but Gould seems a little young to have had  an experience like that.

Max Von Sydow comes off best in this film.  He seems entirely reasonable about the situation and  understands how screwed up the Andersson and Gould characters are, even more than Ingmar Bergman the director/writer.

Bibi Andersson has the thankless job of trying to put some life into Bergman's flat dialog. Plus she is unlucky enough to play the love scenes in the nude with Elliot Gould.   Gould's pawing at her breasts is kind of icky to watch, Bergman seems very uncomfortable directing these scenes.  By the way a naked Elliot Gould is a very hairy guy.

In English, Bergman's themes about alienation, the absence of God, love and passion, sound very trite and cliche ridden.  The symbolism of the rotting statue of the Madonna and child as a representation of Andersson and Gould's love is a little obvious even for Ingmar Bergman.

The Touch is a parody of a typical Ingmar Bergman film.

115 minutes.

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