Ingmar Bergman’s Shame – Skammen (1968)

Ingmar Bergman is one of those film directors I always meant to return to. I have always been impressed by his work. It’s not easy and often a bit depressing but always fascinating. Shame – Skammen is one out of three movies that form a trilogy always starring the same two actors Liv Ullmann and Max von Sydow. If you know Bergman well you know that Liv Ullmann was probably his favourite actress. The other two movies that are part of the trilogy are Vargtimmen -Hour of the Wolf and En passion – The Passion of Anna.

Shame is the only one of the three that you can call a war movie. Bergman is famous for his psychological portraits. He is far less interested in story than in character and Shame is no exception. The movie explores what happens to people during a war. How do they react? How far will they go to save themselves? Is there anything human left in them? The war depicted in Shame never took place but it is inspired by many that did.

Jan and Eva Rosenberg are two artists who live far away from anyone else on a farm. A civil war rages in the country they live in and that’s the reason why the left the city. They are completely apolitical and have no clue what is going on but are still deeply affected. Especially Jan is afraid. He is very nervous. When the war intensifies and comes closer he gets panicky. The country is threatened to be invaded by another country that will try to free the people and when it finally happens, the Rosenbergs are forced to give a fake interview that it is later used against them. They are lucky, Eva is an attractive woman and an officer takes an interest in her. If this hadn’t happened they would both have been tortured and executed. Despite this narrow escape, the war shows its effect anyway. Their relationship is getting worse every day, they fight and scream all the time.

I found the first half of Shame extremely interesting because the atmosphere and the type of war depicted didn’t seem typical for Western European countries and to see Jan and Eva entangled in it made for uncomfortable viewing. This is the type of almost dystopian setting we see in very modern movies, only stripped from any type of heroism. The people in this movie become smaller and meaner, the longer the war lasts. Nobody fights against the oppressor and most certainly nobody fights for anyone lese. It’s a very depressing depiction of humanity.

If you are interested in Bergman, it’s a must-see. If you are more used to American movies and movies with an emphasis on story over character, then it’s rather not for you. I can’t say I liked it (not like the Hour of the Wolf which I loved) because I didn’t like the two main characters but I did appreciate it.

Robin Hood (2010) or This is the Robin Hood we were waiting for

I don’t care if Robin Hood is really a war movie. There is a lot of warfare and talk of war but the purists would probably deny it the access to the war movie realm. I can’t. I am biased. I am partial to Russell Crowe - my favourite actor – I am partial to Ridley Scott - watch all of his movies, they are worth it - I am partial to Cate Blanchett – one of my favourite actresses. In short Robin Hood  is well done, has a great cast and is very entertaining. It doesn’t make the world a better place or will revolutionize cinema history but  it is well woth watching.

I waited for this to come out on BluRay before I watched it and was looking forward to it like a child (Is it available yet? Is it available yet?). I was not disappointed. I truly enjoyed every minute of it.

What we get to see is the pre-history of Robin Hood, the years before he becomes an outcast (will there be a sequel?). At the beginning he is in the middle of a big battle in which  King Lionheart is  fighting against the French. Robin Longstride  is not a noble man and since he is too outspoken he endangers himself and those who follow him. He is sentenced and if King Richard hadn´t died, he would have been bad off. But Richard Lionheart is killed and Robin takes advantage of the chaos that follows the king’s death and escapes with his buddies to the sea.

Sir Robert Loxley who is to bring the crown back to England and hand it over to the new king is murdered on his way home. At that very moment Robin and his men come along and the dying man asks him to return his sword to his father Sir Walter Loxley (Max von Sydow). Robin decides to pretend to be Sir Robert Loxley and first brings the crown to the new king and then travels on to the estate of the Loxley´s where he meets Marion, Roberts widow. Of course there is a love story but it is not corny. The country is in bad shape. People suffer. They are famished and impoverished and exploited by their king. The noblemen from the North want to overthrow the new king but there is a threat coming from the South. One of the king´s people is a traitor and conspires with France. It will take combined efforts to save Britain from invasion.

I won’t tell you if this is achieved and how Robin Hood got his name, nor will I tell you why he became an outcast. You got to find out for yourself.

Some historical facts about Robin Hood can be found on the  BBC British history page.