NEW WORLD PICTURES MONTH: Cries and Whispers (1972)

How did this site come to have an Ingmar Bergman movie about four women dealing with cancer on it?

Roger Corman.

After nearly every film distributor in America rejected this movie — Bergman had only asked for an advance of $75,000 — New World Pictures bought it for $150,000 and spent an additional $80,000 to market it. It made a million dollar profit and was Bergman’s biggest American film ever.

Agnes (Harriet Andersson) is in the final stage of uterine cancer and her maid Anna (Kari Sylwan) and sisters Maria (Liv Ullmann) and Karin (Ingrid Thulin) have gathered. It’s hard for Anna, who has lost a daughter yet she has stronger faith than the sisters. This allows her to be more comfort to Agenes, while Maria is dealing with the fact that the man who broke up her marriage, David (Erland Josephson) is the doctor of her dying sister. So while

Both she and Karin have had their issues with men, as the affair with David led to Anna’s husband stabbing himself, an act close to what Karin did, stabbing herself in the genitals to avoid her husband’s touch. At the end, as the women deal with the death of their friend or sister, the best they can hope to have would be memories of one day.

There are many themes here, depending on what you wish to see. Bergman claimed it was influenced by dreams as a young child and his feelings about his mother. The four women can all be seen as one aspect of her. He also believed that this movie was as far as he could go in cinema, saying “I touched wordless secrets that only the cinema can discover.”

Is it about the Bible? The way women explore the world? Gender roles? Myth existing within the actual world? All of those things?

I’m just still amazed that somehow a Bergman movie ended up on this site next to all the Jess Franco and Dario Argento movies.

One thought on “NEW WORLD PICTURES MONTH: Cries and Whispers (1972)

  1. While Roger Corman’s the consummate frugal guy always out to make a fast buck, in his heart, he’s an artist (look at many of his films) who can appreciate something like Cries and Whispers. That’s why he’s one of the greats for the ages. New World should’ve released more art films. Just think, they could’ve done the usual ballyhoo campaign: “Her 15-year-old niece came of age at the beach. Could she find unbridled passion there too? See a film from director Eric Rohmer like he’s never done before. Water! Sand! Sex! France! Pauline at the Beach… Rated R, from New World Pictures. Starts Friday at select theaters and drive-ins.”


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