The Touch (1971)

the touch poster 1971 movie
7.5 Overall Score
Story: 7/10
Acting: 8/10
Visuals: 8/10

Good looking, interesting cast

Not enough of the substance explored

Movie Info

Movie Name: The Touch

Studio:  ABC Pictures/Cinematograph AB

Genre(s): Drama/Romance

Release Date(s):  June 26, 1971 (Berlin International Film Festival)/July 14, 1971 (US)/August 30, 1971 (Sweden)

MPAA Rating: R

the touch karin david bibi andersson elliot gould

Hey…let’s have a torrid affair!

Karin Vergerus (Bibi Andersson) is a happily married housewife and mother.  Her husband Andreas Vergerus (Max von Sydow) is respected and caring, but when Karin encounters a young and outspoken doctor named David Kovac (Elliott Gould), a relationship develops that could threaten Karin’s marriage and life.  Despite not being unhappy, the romance is something unexpected and different for Karin, and now she must make a decision about her future…even if it could mean destroying life she has built.

Written and directed by Ingmar Bergman, The Touch (Beröringen) is a romantic drama.  Following Bergman’s The Passion of Anna from 1969, the movie was Bergman’s first English language film (though chucks of the film are still in Swedish).  The film received mixed reviews for both its cast and the story.  The Criterion Collection released a remastered version of the film as part of Ingmar Bergman’s Cinema box set.

the touch max von sydow

Hey…my wife is probably sleeping around. Let me ponder that for a bit

Bergman is all over the place.  He can be truly inspired and evoke some of the best moments in cinema, or he can be so-so…but regardless, you rarely watch a Bergman movie and walk away unmoved or without thinking about it.  While The Touch isn’t one of Bergman’s greats, it is an interesting movie with complex characters.

The Touch already feels a bit different simply because you start to watch it and realize that the characters are speaking English.  You generally go into a Bergman film with a feel and perception and the simple switch-up of language shatters it.  As the language jumps back and forth with easy, the characters also switch roles and change goals.  Karin doesn’t seem to know what she’s doing in the affair with David, but she’s loving it and committed.  It is revealed that she has never been able to make a decision and that Andreas has largely guided her…which becomes problematic for David who is completely head over heels for Karin (and has problems himself).  It is kind of two toxic people thrown together, and the relationship doesn’t seem healthy despite the fire.

the touch ending bibi andersson elliot gould

Well that was fun

Bibi Andersson is always great, and even with the flimsier script, she makes Karin her own (and largely reminds me of Mia Farrow in this role).  Elliott Gould is an odd choice, but he was quite popular at the time.  He feels a bit out of place and a bit uncomfortable in the role, but his character is an outsider so it works to some extent.  The ultimate “good guy” is Max von Sydow who knows what is going on, but knows that both characters are problematic.  This also marks the last time that Sydow worked with Bergman after years of collaboration.

The movie isn’t the most visual of Bergman’s films, and I wonder if it would have been better as a black-and-white film.  It does present a completely average world of average people which seems to be part of the point.  This is day-to-day life and it looks like day-to-day life even if it is shot well.

The Touch is kind of a non-event movie.  It is the type of movie that doesn’t linger long with you, but it does raise questions on what Bergman is “touching” on.  I still would rather leave a movie like this than a movie that presents all the answers and can’t be debated.  The Touch might not be the best movie, but it is far from the worst.  Bergman followed The Touch with Cries & Whispers in 1972.

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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