Ingmar Bergman’s first produced screenplay was for the great Swedish filmmaker Alf Sjöberg’s Torment, a dark coming-of-age drama about a boarding-school senior, Widgren, terrorized by his sadistic Latin teacher.
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I really enjoyed this film. And, especially enjoyed it's similarity (story-wise and thematically at least) its similarities to David Lynch's Blue Velvet... (it also has a piece of dialogue that has strong echoes of the later film: "when you lift up a large stone in the garden, don't be surprised when you find bugs" - or something like that).
In high we used to replace Latina with "latrina" (English has a related term). That plentifully reveals our feelings as knowing Latin is easier said than done. I had toe curls hearing "ablative" alone, but Latin phrases entirely retained the vintage, mothball flavoured paleo-chichi they have always boasted. Harry Potter launched an ill-fated pet owl fad, too bad it didn't relaunch Latin among naive wannabe Hermionas.
Swedish cinema was one the world's greatest: Sjostrom, Molander, Bergman, Stiller and now Sjoberg confirm this. Written by Bergman, "Torment" is full of his themes: repression and perversion, a love story that turns bad and a profound concern for the idealistic youth, death, grief and redemption. Almost a film noir in thematic obsessions, lightning dramaturgy, expressive approach to "off" and space-camera relations.
Fascinating to hear Bergman's voice so identifiable in its early form; the script seems so quintessentially his. Really interesting expressionist camerawork, yet very different from the expressionist style Bergman himself would use in his first decade of directing.
Victor Sjöström & Ingmar Bergman team for an attractive, affecting film with moments of genuine suspense. In one scene, thunder fights for the attention of a room full of young men, & I am reminded of Fellini & Capra.
The sadistic teacher story gets a little heavy handed, but it's forgivable. Alf Kjellin & Mai Zetterling make me believe Widgren & Bertha are in love. Bergman's writing is sensitive. And the kitten!!