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The Passion of Anna, Directed by Ingmar Bergman

En Passion, United Artists, November 10, 1969 (Sweden)

Screenplay: Ingmar Bergman

Starring: Max von Sydow, Liv Ullmann, and Bibi Andersson

The warnings are underneath. And they manifest themselves unexpectedly.


His name is William Alexander and he is 48. He lives in a house in Uptown, a section of Chicago everyone had hoped would be by now, a safer, more desirable place to live, yet it remains an enigma of untapped potential. Having the treasured Lake Michigan nearby cannot elevate it beyond stigma brought on by violence, gang bangers, and most recently, the increasing unemployment and foreclosure rates.

“The thing about William Alexander is that, while he may think he is not consumed by the past, by his mistakes … it is clear that whatever amount of preoccupation he does have over these mistakes is what is destroying his prospects for a future.”-Frank Rosen, friend of William

William managed to balance daily stress throughout his 30s with a fairly carefree attitude, coupled with a consistently healthy supply of gin (or the like). Life was just simpler back then. As is often the case with youth, it is easy to ignore the signs of discontent in favor of the promise of happier tomorrows. However, somewhere around 40—when regrets begin to outweigh possibilities—things have a way of getting a bit more complicated. Time speeds up as the search begins.

Andreas Winkelman (Max von Sydow): I want to be warm and tender and alive. I want to make a move.

In his 50s, William would find himself lost in a more earnest contemplation of life and an increasing awareness of hopes and dreams unrealized. As tends to happen in congruence with a rise in the number of funerals one attends later in life, mortality became more than just a vague and feared concept. At the core of it all was the concept of purpose. A man without a purpose is a wounded animal, and as it is known, a wounded animal is a most dangerous creature.

At the core of it all was the concept of purpose. A man without a purpose is a wounded animal, he thought, and as it is known, a wounded animal is a most dangerous creature.

Andreas: It’s terrible to be a failure. When people think they have a right to tell you what to do. Their well-meaning contempt. That brief desire to trample on something living.

He thought of Carla Hamperton, that tragic excuse of a manager in a job long ago. But instead of replaying in his mind some delicious fantasy detailing her deserved demise, William focused on more important things. He wondered if he himself even had it in him anymore, whatever it may be.

Andreas: I am dead. No that’s wrong. Melodramatic. I’m not dead at all. But I live without self-respect. I know it sounds absurd and pretentious. Most people have to live without a sense of self-esteem. Humiliated at heart, stifled and spat upon. They’re alive, and that’s all they know. They know of no alternative. Even if they did, they would never reach out for it. Can one be sick of humiliation? Or is it a disease we have all caught? We talk so much about freedom. Isn’t freedom a terrible poison for anyone who is humiliated? Or is all merely a drug … which the humiliated use so as to be able to endure? I’m past living with this. I’ve given up. I can’t stand it anymore. The days drag by. I’m choked by the food I swallow … the shit I get rid of and the words I say. The daylight that shouts at me every morning to get up. The sleep which is only dreams that chase me. Or the darkness that rustles with ghosts and memories. Has it ever occurred to you … that the worse people are, the less they complain? At last they are quite silent. Although they are living creatures with nerves, eyes, and hands—vast armies of victims and hangmen. The light that rises and falls heavily. The cold that comes. The darkness. The heat. The smell. They are all quiet. We can never leave here. It’s too late. Everything’s too late.

Last frame? Well … let us just say that William’s story does not exactly route happy.

His name is Andreas Winkelman and he is 48.