Bergman’s films were often an exploration of tortured family dynamics, with many focused on the experiences and emotional lives of women. Cries and Whispers, about a dying woman who is attended to in her rural mansion by her sisters, is one of Bergman’s most resonant studies of familial bonds, solitude, suffering and the female psyche.
This existential wail of a drama 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 blissful servant (Kari Sylwan). An intensely felt film and one of Bergman’s most striking formal experiments, Cries and Whispers (which won an Oscar for the extraordinary colour photography of cinematographer Sven Nykvist) remains a powerful depiction of human behaviour in the face of death. Positioned somewhere on the borders between reality and nightmare, tranquillity and terror.