The Serpent's Egg

1977

Drama / Mystery / Thriller

153
IMDb Rating 6.7 10 4,516

Synopsis


Downloaded 8,686 times
April 2, 2019

Director

Cast

Christian Berkel as Louis Ziffer
David Carradine as Cal Dodge
Gert Fröbe as First Policeman - Munich
James Whitmore as George Pappas
720p.BLU 1080p.BLU
986.18 MB
1280*720
English
NR
23.976 fps
119 min
P/S N/A / N/A
1.88 GB
1920×1080
English
NR
23.976 fps
119 min
P/S N/A / N/A

Movie Reviews

Reviewed by G_a_l_i_n_a 7 / 10 / 10

Is It Really The Master's Mistake?

Fear, Loathing, and Despair in Berlin, November 1923 This film universally considered "the master's failure" but I don't agree with the statement. It is very different from the rest of Bergman's films I've seen but that does not make it failure for me. It is only Bergman's second film in English and it boasts an unusual for his films large budget (Dino De Laurentis was a producer) with enormous and elaborate sets. Bergman was able to recreate on the screen Germany (Berlin) of 1920th exactly how it was seen in the films of 1920th German directors - Fritz Lang's films come to mind first. Another film that The Serpent's Egg reminded me of was Bob Fosse's Cabaret - the theme of the Feast during the Time of Plague sounds very prominent in both films, and the cabaret's musical numbers in Bergman's film could've came from Fosse's. I was very impressed by Liv Ullmann's singing and dancing in the beginning of the film - she can do anything. In spite of the film's obvious differences from Bergman's earlier work, it explores many of his favorite themes. It is in part a political film about the helpless, distressed and terrorized members of society that face the merciless and inevitable force of history and are perished without a trace in the process. Also like the earlier films, The Serpent's Egg explores its characters' self-isolation, inability to communicate, their attempt to cope with the pain of living, their despair, fear, and disintegration. The Serpent's Egg may not be a perfect film and a lot has been said about the abrupt and heavy handed ending, the dialogs that don't always work, and David Carradine's performance as a main character. Perfect or not, I think it is an interesting, visually always amazing (cinematography by Sven Nykvist is above any praise) and very honest and thorough study of the human condition in the unbearable situation. In the documentary 'Serpent's Egg: Away From Home' (2004), Ingmar Bergman, Liv Ullmann and David Carradine talk about making the film, how it started and how and why it was so different. Liv said that couple of years ago she and Bergman had seen The Serpent's Egg for the first time, and they both liked it. I am in a good company, then, because I believe that Serpent's Egg is an unforgettable film and everyone who was involved in making it should not be ashamed of it. I am yet to see a Bergman's film that I don't like.

Reviewed by mockturtle 7 / 10 / 10

Underrated and merits examination.

Highly unusual and underrated. Bergman says volumes about the future he saw before us in 1977 by returning to 1923 and making what to the casual observer seems to be a film about hindsight. What is most unusual about his treatment is that he completely abstains from moral judgment. He does not feel the need to point a finger and instruct the audience that the Nazis are bad. Dr. Vergerus is not portrayed, as is suggested in another comment, as a villain. In fact, he is given all of the trademark qualities of a villain and then his sincerity and tenderness concerning subjects both tender (his feelings for Liv Ullman's character) and horrifically vile (experiments) are given the most comprehensive hearing in the film and serve as its marvelously conflicting centerpiece. He may be said to be the most emotional character in the film. In the end he must take his own life to escape hypocritical prosecution at the hands of a police inspector who will no doubt be a Nazi official in 10 years time. Vergerus' death, as he views himself in a mirror slightly recalling Powell's "Peeping Tom" from another perspective, is shockingly memorable to this day. Carradine is perfect, and correct when he says on the DVD that Bergman didn't want a performance from him, just his mystique. We spend much of the film simply on nearly blank reaction shots of his face, and that's a good thing; his very unlikeness makes him a perfect fit. Carradine is the target of much malice and scorn within the cinephile community, but I can't quite figure out why (unless it is simply his arrogance, which I find a little charming). It might have to do with the mountain of junk movies he's been in. At least at the time he had given exceptional performances in "Boxcar Bertha" and "Bound For Glory." With David in "Kill Bill" and Keith in "Deadwood," I hope that Robert Carradine will find some sort of project better than the Lizzie McGuire movie to remind us that in "The Big Red One" he kicked some tail. I don't ever expect to see them embraced by the mainstream, just something that lets them be as good as they can be would be nice. Ullman gives an excellent performance. It requires her to do so many things that Bergman never had her do any other time, from being a dancing sexpot to flying into a completely spontaneous outburst. Woody Allen certainly seems to have drawn inspiration from this film for his "Shadows and Fog." The experiment footage is aggressively horrifying. The assessment that it was a failure in the eyes of Bergman is also mistaken. He said that it was a great disappointment to work on. This comment is illuminated by Liv Ullman on the DVD where she explains that it was the alien work environment that left him depressed and unsatisfied, but that upon a recent viewing he found to his surprise that he was quite proud of the film. I personally found it very entertaining, often surprising and simply a wonder at how Bergman was able for this film to completely sublimate his style to the demands of quite a different kind of picture, but still make it his own. In its way it is a sort of pre-war "Third Man." It is not among his best, but when your best are many of the best films ever made that's not a harsh judgment. It is more than just an oddity or an Altman-esque "interesting failure."

Reviewed by MisterWhiplash 7 / 10 / 10

like one of the beings in the mad doctor's experiments, this film is a tortured, deconstructive kind of movie, never too boring

One can look at Ingmar Bergman's the Serpent's Egg as being many things, but it should not be looked at through the same prism that one looks at say Through a Glass Darkly or Scenes from a Marriage. This is Bergman being 'cinematic', and for the lone moment of a career spent with low-budget film-making and theater as his passions, a big-budget, a Hollywood star, and a sprawling canvas to work on, was at his finger-tips. It's also one of his few shots at not only an 'homage' kind of movie, but also one in English (one of only two). So it's the dark horse (no pun intended) when compared to the more one-on-one based films. This time the star, David Carradine, is not only an acrobat, but also in a city where the environment is grim, to the point of a scarcity of hope amid the post WW1 German cityscape. It's not the kind of film, in other words, that'll make money in the mass US market coming off the high of Star Wars (though it's been said that this film did make back it's money in Europe and then some). It's the kind of uncompromising vision that goes for broke, and it's a fascinating journey. Carradine, who is at his best with a certain style and down-played quality that keeps him still cool today, is an American in Berlin, where his brother's just died in a rather grotesque fashion. This puts a certain immediate marker of doom over him and his sister in law, played by Liv Ullman (if, for no other reason to see the film, it's for her work, as usual). Over the span of a week (surprisingly so, if not for the voice over one might feel it being longer), amid the rain and nights and drunken stumbles and over-heated moments, Abel Rosenberg tries to deal with all that's going on. But there are stranger things lurking ahead with his upcoming job. This story is dealt with by Bergman in a curious way- it SEEMS a little longer at times, but it doesn't lose a certain momentum, of stripping away its character's defenses bare. Even Carradine, an actor who's mostly had a career as a larger-than-life kind of persona, gets intense with his work here. Where Bergman gets entangled in everything he's got going on is a sense of structure to it. It's not the kind of 'soul-searching, hell if I know if God can help' film, but one more connected to the perverse, lurid qualities of the control some people could have over these people at this point of time in the world. One could say it's connected stylistically with the films of Murnau and Lang, however I would argue that more than half the time I did still feel like I was seeing a Bergman film, with his part n parcel cinematographer Sven Nykvist expressing greatly what is there in the huge set constructed of 1922 Berlin. And because of this, there's still the close-ups, and the surreality that's induced. But because there's so much to work with, with sometimes overwhelming scenes (like when Carradine walks into that bar, loaded with people, compact and tight, or whenever there's a chase or 'danger' kind of moment for Rosenberg, or just having to deal with large crowds or difficult lighting set-ups), the narrative thread gets tangled up. The opening shot of the people walking in slow-motion is brilliant, yet I didn't feel that same brilliance in the film. Several directors hit this kind of moment in careers, where a larger-than-usual concept is provided by the appropriate budget. That it's in English is unusual, and though Bergman is functional in the language, one can tell there's not the same fluidity in the writing at times. However I don't discredit the Serpent's Egg as this horrible quagmire of a picture, as I was almost led on to believe. It still contains some extraordinary stuff, like the Cabaret scenes, as weird and compelling as some of the stuff in the Silence. Or the terror instilled when Heinz Bennent's character shows Rosenberg the 'footage' towards the end of the film. But it's also one of the more difficult films of Bergman's I've seen, that moves at a pace that's post-modern, and not too steeped in the 20's (that is one of its strong points at times in theme), while resisting going for the easy, Hollywood big-budget kind of movie-making. 7.5/10

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