Over 2.5 hours long, Troel’s epic film, endlessly gripping and moving, is based on the best-selling Swedish novel series In the Good Ground by Wilhelm Moberg. Nearly $2 million, it is the most expensive and ambitious Swedish film ever made and one of the few foreign films ever shot partly in America. (Troell used the Great Lakes, Minnesota, northern Wisconsin, and Galena.) It tells the story of immigrants from Sweden, but it could just as well be about any group of people. The journey would be just as long, sickness and death just as heartbreaking, the spirit just as indomitable.
2. LAST TANGO IN PARIS
This film may not have Brando’s best performance, but it certainly has his most emotionally overwhelming scene. He returns to the inn and is confronted by his wife’s dead body in a coffin and speaks words of absolute hate to her – words that, as he utters them, become one of the most touching speeches of love I can imagine. When he cries as he tries to take off her cosmetic death mask («Look at you! You’re a memorial to your mother! You’ve never put on makeup, you’ve never worn false eyelashes!»), he makes it quite clear why he’s the best movie actor of all time. . He may be a bore, he may be a scoundrel, he may be childish about the Oscars – but there is no one who could play this scene as openly, without any tricks, as he did, and make it work triumphantly.
1. PLAKS AND WHISPERS
Scream and Whisper is unlike any film I’ve seen before and is unlike any film directed by Ingmar Bergman; although we are all likely to see many films in our lives, there will be few like this one. It hypnotizes, disturbs, frightens. It wraps us in a red film of passion and fear, and in some way that I don’t fully understand uses taboos and ancient superstitions to its effect. We sink lower into our seats, feeling claustrophobic and sexually unsettled, realizing that we are surrounded by the vision of a director who is absolutely master of his art. «Screams and Whispers» of death, love, sexual passion, hate and death – in that order.