Hour of the Wolf (1968)

hour of the wolf poster 1968 movie
8.0 Overall Score
Story: 7/10
Acting: 8/10
Visuals: 8/10

Great Bergman visuals

Not Bergman's best

Movie Info

Movie Name:  Hour of the Wolf

Studio:  Svensk Filmindustri

Genre(s):  Drama/Horror

Release Date(s):  February 19, 1968 (Sweden)/April 9, 1968 (US)

MPAA Rating:  Not Rated

hour of the wolf max von sydow liv ullmann

We all go a little mad sometimes

Johan Borg (Max von Sydow) is a tortured artist. His wife Alma (Liv Ullmann) finds herself unable to connect with him and competing against former love Veronica (Ingrid Thulin). As Johan begins to slip deeper and deeper into his fantasies, Alma questions what Johan is seeing and if some of his delusions might actually be reality.

Written and directed by Ingmar Bergman, Hour of the Wolf is a psychological horror thriller. Following Persona in 1966 (and a part of the anthology film Stimulatia in 1967), the film received mostly positive reviews and was remastered by the Criterion Collection as part of the Ingmar Bergman’s Cinema boxset celebrating the director’s one-hundredth birthday.

hour of the wolf liv ullmann

This whole “I think I can help him” thing isn’t going well.

The idea of a Bergman horror film was appealing to me, and I tried to see Hour of the Wolf only to find out that it really didn’t stream anywhere and it was only part of DVD boxsets here in the United States. When I learned that the film was going to be part of the Ingmar Bergman’s Cinema boxset, it just became another reason to buy it.

Hour of the Wolf was…odd. The story is presented as a flashback being told by Alma from Johan’s journals, but there are portions of the film that couldn’t have been revealed to her since she wasn’t witness to them (and Johan probably didn’t write about them). The film ends with some of Johan’s delusions possibly being real and the horror not just in his mind.

Max von Sydow is good as normal playing the tortured Johan Borg. He’s moody and angsty and for good reason if he is seeing what he appears to be seeing. Liv Ullmann also brings an innocence to her role as Alma, and you see her pain of being second fiddle to another woman who isn’t even there. The movie also makes good use of the supporting cast with a dinner from hell that has all the players involved just feeling “off”.

hour of the wolf creepy image ingmar bergman

Nope…nothing creepy here

The visuals of the film really help. You have scenes like the brutal killing (maybe?) of a child and the horror of being Johan being watched by the family as he explores Veronica. The more delusional the film is, the creeper it gets…especially when Alma potentially sees the horror first hand (kind of like in The Shining when the mother begins to see the horror she thought was all in the head of the characters).

I won’t say that I was disappointed by Hour of the Wolf, but I wish it had pushed it further. The horrific parts of the movie were truly horrific, but I also finds aspects of Bergman’s other non-“horror” films just as horrific. As a result, I wish Bergman had pushed Hour of the Wolf even farther and harder…the more surreal the movie got, the better it was. Bergman followed Hour of the Wolf with Shame also released in 1968.

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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