Hour of the Wolf

Hour of the Wolf


A few years ago, the painter Johan Borg
disappeared without a trace from his home on Baltrum
in the Frisian Islands. His wife, Alma,
subsequently left me Johan’s diary, which she had found among his papers. It is this diary
along with Alma’s verbal account that make up the basis for this film.Can somebody move that chair?Can you lower it a little?HOUR OF THE WOLF A FILM BY
INGMAR BERGMANHave you been down there?Quiet! Ready for take!Camera!Action!No. I have nothing more to tell. I’ve given you the diary. You’re wondering
why I’m going to stay here. We’ve lived together in this house
for almost seven years. Come winter, I can move to the mainland
and work in the store. I’ve done it in previous years
when we were short on money. The doctor said
the baby’s due in a month. I had an examination in May,
before the last time we came out here. I remember it was a Friday. It was pretty late. About 10:00, I think. But it was still light out. We had planned to stay here until August. We were going to be completely alone. He didn’t want to see
another human being here. He was scared. He liked that I was quiet. He liked… We arrived at about 3:00 in the morning. We found a cart in a shed on the beach. When we got here, we were happy to see
that the apple tree was in bloom. Then we discovered footprints in the flower bed
under the kitchen window. Johan became irritated,
but we forgot about it until… We were happy. We were happy to be back home again. Johan was a bit worried. He was always worried
when work wasn’t going well and lately it hadn’t been. He struggled to sleep. He was frightened, as if scared of the dark. It had gotten worse the last few years. – I know.
– What? – I’m going to draw you.
– No. – Yes.
– No. Yes, let me. If you sit over there. Come on now. Up you go, fatty. – Here?
– A bit farther back. There. – Are you cold?
– No. I knew that. No, sit like you usually do.
Don’t straighten your back. And pull the robe off of your shoulder. Like that. And pull your hair up
so I can see your neck better. Just like that. Where are my glasses? The temple is broken again. Just like that.
Can you sit still like that? If I patiently drew you, day after day… Hi. Look here. I haven’t shown these to anybody. You see, I’ve drawn them. This is the most common figure.
He’s almost harmless. I think he’s homosexual. Then there’s the old lady. Who’s always threatening
to take off her hat. – You know what happens then?
– No. Her face comes off with it, you see. Here. This is the worst one. I call him the Bird Man. I don’t know if it’s a real beak
or if it’s only a mask. He’s so remarkably fast. He must be related
to Papageno fromThe Magic Flute.The others.
The flesh eaters, the insects… and especially the spider men. Here. The schoolmaster
with the pointing stick in his trousers. And the… chattering,
hard-as-metal women. You have to stay awake a while. In an hour or so it’ll be day. Then I can sleep. A minute really is
an immense amount of time. Starting now. Ten seconds. These seconds… See how long they last? The minute is not up yet. Finally. Now it’s passed. Say something. Eh? Talk to me, Alma. You know, there’s something
I’ve been thinking for quite a while. Are you listening? We’ve lived together for seven years now. No, that’s not what I was going to say. Now I know. Is it not true that old people,
who’ve spent a lifetime together, start to resemble each other? Eventually they have so much in common that they not only
have the same thoughts, but the same facial expressions. Why do you think that is? I hope we become so old
that we share each other’s thoughts… and that we get little, dry
and completely identical wrinkled faces. What do you think of that? Are you sleeping? Come. Come, let’s go. Come, let’s go to bed. – Come on.
– Yes. Yes. Don’t look so frightened, dear child. I’m not dangerous. Give me your hand. Well? Can you feel my hand now? My fingers, the veins under my skin. At my age, the hands are a bit cold. I’m 216 years old after all. No, what am I saying? Seventy-six, I mean. No, I better move on. Wait! What was it I was going to say? Yes, now I remember. In his black satchel under the bed, is his sketchbook with the drawings… He wants to tear them up. Tell him not to do it. And one more thing. He hides his diary in that same satchel. Read it. No. No! DIARYWednesday, July 22nd. I’ve just been ill.Not too bad, but still unpleasant enough.Forgive my interruption,
but I’ve contemplated for days the best way to approach you. I decided it’s most polite
to get straight to the point. My name is von Merkens,
Baron von Merkens. Borg. As you may know, I own this island and I live in the old castle
on the north side. Would you and your wife be interested
in a simple family supper at our place? That’s very kind of you. It will be very simple, but I can offer good wine
and our salmon fishing is renowned. Good-bye. Yes, and I should probably mention
that my wife and I are admirers of yours. I might even dare say
your fondest admirers.Thursday, July 27th.A very warm, hazy day.I still feel unwell after my illness.Do you see this mark? You have to be more careful, my love, or it will end in disaster. Don’t you remember? I was going to a party and I was
wearing my green brocade dress. And afterwards I had trouble
putting up my hair again. And I forgot my gloves. I have something
I need to speak to you about. I’ve received a letter
that I need to show you. It was sent yesterday. It goes like this: “You don’t see us, but we see you. The worst can happen. Dreams can be revealed. The end is near. The wells will run dry, and other liquids
will moisten your white loins. So it has been decided.” I nearly got ill reading it. Your hands are really hot. Do you have a fever? I always get so excited
when I’m going to meet you. Can you understand that? It’s as if I’m in a dream all afternoon. All chores feel unreal and meaningless. Be so sweet and help me with my zipper. It always gets stuck. It’s really windy,
but beautiful, don’t you think? This has to be a dream spot for painting. You’ve lived here for quite some time. You return to the scene of the crime,
so to speak. And commit new crimes. You look tired. Don’t overexert yourself. I mean, at our age
some caution is advised. Youth is much hardier. I know what I’m talking about. My name is Heerbrand, school counselor. I probe people’s souls
and turn the inside out. And what do we see?
Well, I don’t need to tell you. You’re an artist,
you know the human heart. Who hasn’t seen your facial studies,
not to mention your self-portraits? Why do you look at me like that?
Are you angry? Are your nerves all right?
Is something bothering you? Shut up! Shut up! I need to ask you for a little more money. What you gave me
earlier this month is almost gone. I have to pay the store
next time we go to the mainland. The bill is 176.50,
and then there’s the milk. No, don’t just fork over money like that,
take a look at my accounting. It’s actually important, at least for me. I received 500 on the third. You got me that blanket.
It was rather expensive, it cost 35. But it’s nice and warm
when you’re lying alone. And then there’s the last bill
from the store. It was high because we had to buy
flour, sugar and canned goods. It was over 200 kronor… 219. And then there’s
pocket money and stamps, a chain for my bicycle
and new batteries for the radio… and the potato peeler. There’s soap, washing detergent
and a nail brush. You need to buy a new toothbrush.
The one you have looks terrible. – Yes.
– Yes, it does. Then 50 kronor for your boy’s birthday
and 0.75 for postage. That leaves 7.36 out of 500. You can check it to see if it’s correct. – We’re invited to the castle on Friday.
– I know. How do you know that? Good day. Let me present my wife, Corinne. You’re most welcome. Welcome. My mother, Countess von Merkens. My brother, Ernst. A pleasure. It’s a pleasure. This is archivist Lindhorst. It’s nice to meet you.
I am one of your fondest admirers. And this is Counselor Heerbrand. Pleasure. Yes, we’ve met before. Would you like a drink? I thought you’d been living here
for months. We’ve heard of you for so long. Time flies so quickly. We’re so happy you wanted to come. What an awful maidservant.
But she’s cheap, of course. My brother can’t afford better.
Please observe that the reason the soup… Quiet, dear Ernst.
Nowadays we’re homebodies. In the past we traveled a lot.
Do you like travel? I love to travel.
There’s nothing more stimulating. Alma is an unusual and beautiful name. Personally, I’m unable to feel aggression. Well, I can manage
some bureaucratic vengefulness. In this house we’re used to humiliation. It’s supposed to be pleasurable
to be humiliated. – We still have our fangs intact.
– Cheers! These days I want to be loved… I bought a painting
from a then well-known artist… No comments, dear Ernst. Then I hung it upside down in my salon and invited the artist over
with others who appreciated a good joke. We had a good laugh at the time.
God, how we laughed. What do you say, Mr. Artist?
Wasn’t that a funny joke? The wounds never heal,
the pus never ceases to flow. The infection is constant. Then it goes faster or slower
towards the end. The determining factor
is the heart’s resistance. I’m constantly losing weight.
I travel the world consulting specialists. Sometimes it stops as it has this summer,
but then it starts up again. My husband says it’s psychological,
that it started when we lost our money. When I embezzled the family money.
I’m the guilty one. – Please don’t start.
– My dishonesty. Why is Lindhorst at our table?
Why can’t we sell and leave? My fault. My fault.
All this suffering. My fault! And then I shouted,
“Your medicine is worthless. It won’t go away. It will never go away. You must remove it during operation.
Cut it out. No, I’m an old woman.
There has to be some limit.” Then the professor laughed and said, “No, Countess,
I’ve never heard of any limits.” Yes, we have children. Two boys. Not here. Oh, no, they live with an uncle. They’re acquaintances of yours,
by the way. I believe you know Veronica Vogler.
Very well from what I hear. An incredibly beautiful woman. Veronica Vogler is a charming woman.
Have you met her? Really very charming. No? Such hatred in those eyes. Fredrik, the cacti
you planted in the park need to go. My cats don’t like them at all. We’ll have coffee in the library. Help me a little. Ladies and gentlemen. May I present a puppet theater
performance as a pleasant diversion? Shall we turn off the lights? There we go. Our guests of honor. Come. Come. There. Music.The Magic Fluteis the prime example.
One moment and I’ll prove it to you. Tamino’s guide has just left him
in the dark palace courtyard outside the Temple of Wisdom. And the young man cries out in despair: “O eternal night,
when will you come to an end? When shall the light find my eyes?” The fatally ill Mozart
secretly sympathizes with these words. The reply from the choir
and orchestra is also, “Soon, soon, youth, or never.” The most beautiful,
most significant music ever written. Tamino asks: “Is Pamina still alive?” The invisible choir answers, “Pamina. Pamina is still alive.” Listen to the strange, illogical
but ingenious division of the word: Pami… na. Pami… na. This is no longer
the name of a young woman. It’s a spell, an incantation. A naive text…
In short, a commissioned piece of music… and yet the greatest manifestation of art. Isn’t that so, Mr. Artist? Forgive me. I call myself artist
for lack of a better term. In my creativity nothing is self-evident,
except the compulsion to carry on. Through no intent of my own, I have been singled out
as something special, a five-legged calf, a monster. I never strove for that distinction,
nor do I strive to keep it. But by all means, I have felt megalomania
brush across my brow. But I believe myself to be immune. I need only for a moment consider the insignificance
of art in the human world to be brought back down to earth. However, that doesn’t inhibit
the compulsion. – Spoken by a true artist.
– This is a true confession. – Magnificent.
– Such courage. Such insight. I propose a toast to our artist. He’s not only a genius,
but a deep thinker as well. I’ll be damned. I didn’t expect that. A flowering rose for your hair. I must have gotten your cheek
with my fingernail. Let’s see. Oh, you’re bleeding.
Here’s my handkerchief. – No, it’s clean.
– Our artist has been wounded. Imagine that I would be so clumsy. Be calm. You’ve had too much to drink. Stay with me now. He doesn’t sleep at night.
That’s why he can’t handle too much. Come, let’s get some air. The castle’s core
is actually from the 1400s. It’s belonged to the family
since the late 1500s. We got a little excited.
It’s no wonder, we are so isolated here. We simply frightened you.
But now you won’t leave us, will you? See, Corinne,
at night our castle is rather beautiful. Yes, it would be at night. My garter! No, no.
Turn away, Counselor Heerbrand. Where did Ernst go?
Ernst, my friend, where are you? I went off a little. I’m ashamed
that the park is so neglected. Imagine 10 years ago,
a pristine park visited… We never kiss each other.
Have you thought of that? I can almost count our kisses. There is something
that scares me to death. I meet a stranger on the road. We converse about this and that. Suddenly he turns towards me
and delivers a hard blow to my cheek. His face is deathly pale,
his eyes filled with hate. I don’t understand anything.
I just feel sick and get a nosebleed. I sputter some silly excuses…
Terribly shaken. And after the man has disappeared,
I ask myself, “Is this how it is?
Does it have to be like this?” I’ll never forget the man’s eyes. It’s nothing to worry about. The punch was horrible,
but his eyes were the worst. Leaving already? Before you go, you have to see where
I hung your painting of Veronica Vogler. Alma, dear, come along. She’s sleeping. Let’s not bother her. No, I’m not sleeping. – I think we should go now.
– Then come both of you. It won’t take long. Alma, you’re going to see something
very beautiful your husband has made. Here’s the painting, directly across from my bed. I can see it every morning and night. It’s become part of my lonely life. I love her. How long did you live together? Forgive me for asking
something so personal. – Five years.
– Really? He’s told you? He loved her, didn’t he? I don’t need to ask. It was a first-rate scandal at the time. But so romantic. Jealous? – I don’t believe so.
– My husband is quite jealous. He’s an excellent lover. Look at this mark, by the way. It’s a scar from another man’s,
shall we say, advances. An eternal spring of renewed excitement. All of it is very trivial, of course,
but for me it’s stimulating. Soon I’ll have to come up with
something new. That scar won’t remain
fascinating forever. Can you help me? Alma, dear, don’t get angry. I’m only kidding. It was a silly joke. Come now. Let’s go join the others. I have at least bought a fairly
significant piece of your husband. Don’t you think? I should tell you
that I’ve read your diary, and I’m almost sick with fear. Wait! Let me finish talking. I want you to hear what I’ve been
thinking these past few days. This is what I’ve been thinking. I can see something is going to happen,
something evil. I don’t know what to call it. But if you think I’m going to run away… I’m not going to run away,
no matter how frightened I am. And one more thing. They want to separate us.
They want you for themselves. As long as I’m with you,
it’ll be more difficult. Johan. I’m not going to run away,
no matter what they try. I’ll stay, I will. I’ll stay. Johan, answer me. Johan! HOUR OF THE WOLF – Do you hear how quiet it is?
– Yes, it’s quiet. There was a time
when nights were for sleep. A deep, dreamless sleep. Imagine, sleeping. Waking up without fear. – Alma?
– Yes. – Are you tired?
– No, not terribly. Now we’ve kept watch
every night until dawn. This hour is the most difficult. – Do you know what it’s called?
– No. Old people used to call it
the “hour of the wolf.” It’s the hour when the most people die, when the most babies are born. It’s the hour when nightmares come to us. – And if we are awake…
– We are afraid. We are afraid. What is it? It’s nothing. I just thought of something
from my childhood. It was some sort of punishment, you see. They threw me in the closet and shut the door. It got dark and quiet. I became terribly frightened. I kicked and I pounded, because they had told me
that a little person lived in that closet. And he could gnaw the toes off
of naughty children. When I stopped pounding
I heard something rattling in the corner and I knew my time had come. And in some sort of silent panic, I started climbing
on shoe boxes and shelves. I tried pulling myself up by my hands, clothes falling all around me, I lost my grip and I fell. I swung my fists wildly all around me to defend myself
against that little creature. And the entire time
I screamed in horror and asked for forgiveness. Finally the door opened
and I could step out… into the daylight. My father said, “Mother tells me
that you beg for forgiveness.” And I said,
“Yes, I beg so much for forgiveness.” “Prepare the couch then,” he said. I went to the green couch
in my father’s room, picked up some pillows
and stacked them on top of each other. Then I went and fetched the cane,
unbuttoned my pants and laid down over the pillows. Father asked,
“How many strokes do you deserve?” And I said, “As many strokes as possible.” And he struck me with the cane, pretty hard, but not unbearable. When the punishment was over
I turned towards Mother and asked, “Can Mother forgive me now?” And she cried, and said,
“Of course I forgive you.” Then she offered me her hand… and I kissed it. Alma, are you listening?
Are you sleeping? No, I’m awake. My back hurts. Can you believe
that it’s pitch-black out there still? Do you hear how quiet it is? It’s strange
when the sea is completely calm. Scary somehow. Don’t you think? Are you crying? No, I’m not. I’m thinking of the child… and of this great, silent darkness. It’s almost as if
it will never be light again. My poor dear. Give me your hand. That’s much better. Remember that day I came home
and said I’d been bitten by a snake? Yes. It was no snake bite. It wasn’t a snake bite? I never thought I’d tell anybody.
I don’t even know if… You need to tell me. You can never tell anybody. No, I promise. I’ll never tell anybody. You remember the place by the cliffs? – We were there early this summer.
– Yes. Did you lock it properly? I checked it twice. Good morning. Sorry to disturb you. A thousand pardons. It looks like a storm is coming,
so I thought I’d stop in for a while. I have an errand as well. May I sit down?
I promise I won’t be long-winded. I’m here with an invitation
from the castle. We’re going to have a little party. Nothing big at all. Just something
to distract those poor people a bit. They sit there year round
and harp on each other. As I said, not a large party. But it will interest you. Veronica Vogler has accepted.
She’ll be there. And you’ll come as well, won’t you? Then it’s agreed. By the way, Von Merkens and I
discussed the other day your ability to defend yourself. I mean, against all the small game
on the island. That’s all for the moment. Good morning, dear friends.
Hope to see you at our little party. Shouldn’t you lock up that weapon? No, why? What are we going to do now? You’re going to tell me
about Veronica Vogler. What do you want me to tell you? That it went on for five years? You know that. We were caught. It was a huge scandal. Then the story quieted down. Then it ended. That’s not what it says in your diary. “My attachment to Veronica
finally became agonizing for both of us. I followed her and spied on her jealously. I believe my passion stimulated her, but she was always passive
and indecisive. Sometimes we had frightening disputes that lacked any semblance of reason. We traveled from town to town
to evade her relatives and lawyers.” No! “We truly embodied the words of the Bible that man and woman
shall be of one flesh. Then her husband came to get her. I was taken to the hospital. We didn’t see each other
for several years.” You once said… that the nice thing about me
was that God had made me in one piece. That I had whole feelings
and whole thoughts. You said it was important
that there were people like me. I thought it sounded so lovely. It made me so happy. I was wrong. I don’t understand a thing. I don’t understand a thing.
I don’t understand you. Now I’m only frightened. Do you think I want to stay here
and possibly be killed? Do you think I want to see you
running after that woman, talking to ghosts,
while I defend myself constantly? Do you think I want that? But here I am. Get up from the table now. Now go over to the door. Now walk through the door. Walk down the steps. It’s not dark anymore,
you’ll find your way. No, how lovely! Welcome. Be a dear and carry the tray. There you go. Thank you. It’s my evening meal, you see. Lindhorst, who’s wise
in the way of the world, claims that old harlots
have an obsessive need of satisfying the mouth and stomach. Are you sure you do not want any? Isn’t there a party this evening? Not as far as I know. No, no. Don’t go. Please help me remove my stockings. You don’t like touching me. I can sense it clearly. I don’t understand you. Veronica Vogler has arrived… and I’m the only one
who can tell you where she is. Look closely at my feet, Mr. Artist. Have you ever seen
more youthful and fit arches? Look closely. Look at my heel. It’s so smooth and nice. And the strong toes and beautiful nails. Kiss my foot. Go on now. There you go. You’ve been kind, so I’ll tell you where she is. Look in the west gallery. At least she was there five minutes ago. – Forgive me, I thought…
– You’re always welcome, dear friend. You come, you stay, you go.
You have complete freedom. Let us speak candidly. You’re here looking for Veronica Vogler. I should mention, before you meet her,
that Veronica has been my lover for years. Your shared past
has kindly been detailed for me. I can assure you I’m suffering. Tonight I shall be by your bed. Every word, every kiss,
every movement of your bodies… I will be spared nothing. Come, I’ll show you the way. It’s only my jealousy.
Please go away. Yes, of course. Of course. Naturally. It’s Conductor Kreisler playing. Conductor Kreisler
is a master of his instrument. Don’t you think Veronica
has waited long enough? She started to prepare for your visit
early this morning. She’s become even more beautiful. My husband is suffering. He’s jealous. And your touching little companion… Three shots, one of which was fatal. Such lovely music. I think I must remove my hat,
so I can hear better. It really smells of glue. Though she insists it’s all synthetic. But regular glue is what it is.
She doesn’t fool me. We know our tricks, don’t we? Let’s see if we’re presentable. You’re so pale, dear friend.
What a sight you are. Your lips are as blue as blueberries.
We have to do something about that. Sit. Let’s see what we can come up with. Yes! A beautiful Cupid’s bow… and a sensually full lower lip
is very evocative. The eyes are bloodshot and swollen.
Here, dab the eyes. Like that. Oh, my dear. We’ll draw a few lines on your eyelids. There we are. A healthier skin color wouldn’t hurt. What should we come up with now?
Yes, borrow my morning robe. There and there. There we are. There we are. It suits you, it suits you. Wait. Nice pajamas are needed
for occasions like this. A lovely fragrance? No? You prefer to smell of yourself,
of course. Each to his own scent,
but a little puff of fragrance anyway. I knew it. Take a look in the mirror. Now you are yourself, and yet not yourself. The ideal requirement for a tryst. Come now. This way. There is her door. You see what you want to see. Veronica? No. No, no. Don’t worry about them.
Don’t worry about them. – Let me be.
– Don’t worry… I thank you… for finally crossing the line. The mirror has been shattered. But what do the shards reflect? Can you tell me that? Yes, he fired three shots. One of them tore open
a wound on my arm. I still have a small scar. I fell over in sheer terror. I thought it best to lie still. I heard him pacing back and forth
then go behind the house. Then he started running towards the path. I got up, went inside,
washed off the blood and put on a bandage. I hid the pistol
and then sat down and waited. He was gone a few minutes and then he came running back. I hid for safety’s sake. He looked completely insane. He walked around the cottage
talking to himself. Then he took out the diary
and began writing. He wrote for several hours. Late morning he packed his satchel
and headed off towards the woods. I thought it was best to follow him. He might hurt himself. Johan. Don’t you see me? Johan. – Where is he?
– I know where you can find him. Come. – Call to him.
– Johan! I’ve been wondering one thing. Are you in a hurry? I’d like to ask something. It’s like this… Isn’t it true that when a woman
has lived with a man for a long time… Isn’t it true that she eventually
becomes like the man? I mean, she loves him, tries to think like him,
and see things like him. It’s said that it can change a person. Is that why I began seeing those spirits? Or were they there regardless? I mean, had I loved him less, and not cared so much
about the things surrounding him… would I have been able
to protect him better? Or was it that I didn’t love him enough… that made me jealous? Was it because of those “man eaters,”
as he called them… Was it because of them
it went so horribly bad for us? I thought I was so close to him. Sometimes he also said
that he was close to me. Once he said it with conviction. If only I could have followed him
all the time. There are so many things to ponder. So many questions… Sometimes you don’t know up from down,
and you get completely…

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