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Torment

aka Frenzy (Hets)
Sweden 1944. Dir: Alf Sjöberg. 101 min. 35mm

Ingmar Bergman, launching his film career, was screenwriter and assistant director of Torment, a sordid tale of passion and murder directed by then-reigning Swedish master Alf Sjöberg. Evocatively shot in Expressionist fashion, this moody harbinger of Bergman movies to come concerns Jan-Erik (Alf Kjellin), a senior-year student tormented by a sadistic Latin teacher (Stig Järrel) known as “Caligula.” Jan-Erik finds solace in the bed of boozy bad-girl Bertha (future director Mai Zetterling, in her breakout role), only to discover that she too is being victimized by an abusive older man. Near the end of production, Bergman was asked to shoot some final exterior scenes in Sjöberg’s absence, and was exultant: “I made my debut as a movie director... They were my first professionally filmed images. I was more excited than I can describe.” “An ultra-neurotic film noir in its allegory of fascism” (Austrian Film Museum).


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"Emotionally haunting."

New York Times | full review