One rainy night in Weimar Berlin, Jewish American circus performer Abel Rosenberg (David Carradine) discovers that his brother Max, his trapeze-act partner, has killed himself. What follows is one of Bergman’s darkest and most fearful visions, as the drowned-in-drink Abel and Max’s ex-wife, cabaret singer Manuela (Liv Ullmann), feel increasingly unwelcome in a menacing and destitute city, eyed by the police as well as a scientist with diabolical intentions. The director’s sole big-budget Hollywood production, for which he created a surreal and atmospheric Berlin on a Munich soundstage, The Serpent’s Egg conjures a Kafkaesque nightmare about the decaying society that gave rise to the horrors of Nazism. (Criterion)


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English An existential psychological drama infused with the essence of Franz Kafka and German expressionism, but at the same time, a dark noir with an almost perfectly captured atmosphere of Weimar Germany, plagued by the aftermath of a lost war, economic crisis, political instability, and the decadence of a cynical and sexually provocative cultural scene. For many viewers, The Serpent's Egg will represent a difficult-to-digest challenge. For fans of the genre, Bergman's cinematic language and ambiguous, almost hallucinogenic storytelling will pose a great obstacle. Admirers of Bergman will miss his typical signature style and, in addition, will tend to perceive The Serpent's Egg as an unacceptable commercial transgression by the Master. I admit without reservation that the artsy masturbation of Bergman's psychological dramas has never attracted me, except for rare exceptions, and I have actually been consistently avoiding his films for many years. However, here I felt that it perfectly matched my taste and mood. The film only missed earning a fifth star for two reasons. I don't mind David Carradine even though I typecast him as an action and kung fu movie star since I have never been a fan of that genre, so no association works for me. What bothers me is that he simply doesn't meet the demanding requirements of the role. He is more of a type actor, and when it comes to multidimensional character acting, he falls short. And secondly, Bergman sometimes exaggerates the expressiveness to the point of hysteria. However, the atmosphere of the film works flawlessly, and I thoroughly enjoyed the excellent camera work. In my opinion, the combination of Hollywood and Bergman turned out better than expected. Overall impression: 85%. ()

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