Torment' DVD, Ingmar Bergman (1944), New & Sealed
Torment is excellent, but is somewhat stigmatised by being the great Ingmar Bergman's writing debut.
The film is about the relationship between the students of a boy's public school and their teachers. The performances are excellent, especially Stig Järrel as the sadistic latin teacher, Caligula. He is a character with a lot of depth, instead of a one-dimensional monstrosity. He torments the boys, in particular Alf Kjellin's Widgrin, who instead of being helped through his problems by his teacher, is scorned and ridiculed, and eventually driven to exhaustion. Complicating matters is the triangle between Caligula, Widgrin, and the girl who works in the tobacco shop. It is very tense, as we consider the various ways in which the plot will resolve itself.
I doubt that Bergman in his prime could have done a better job of directing it than Alf Sjöberg. It is actually quite Bergmanesque, visually. It resembles Summer With Monika and, in its use of lighting, Through A Glass, Darkly. It is dark and expressionistic at times (one shot mimics Nosferatu), but it is for the most part quite realistically shot.
It's very evocative of my own primary school days (although I was younger than the kids in the film), so I could empathise to an extent with the kids. It is reminiscent in its portrayal of school life of Lindsay Anderson's If... but with more focus on character psychology than social rebellion (and without the surrealism). The solidarity between the boys against Caligula is moving and inspiring. The only thing I didn't like was the score, which was far too melodramatic. I highly recommend the film, though.
Director: Alf Sjöberg
Stig Järrel .... Caligula
Alf Kjellin .... Jan-Erik Widgren
Mai Zetterling .... Bertha Olsson
Olof Winnerstrand .... The Headmaster
Gösta Cederlund .... Pippi
Hugo Björne .... The Doctor
Stig Olin .... Sandman
Olav Riégo .... Mr. Widgren
Märta Arbin .... Mrs. Widgren
Jan Molander .... Pettersson
rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Hilda Borgström .... Caligula's mother (scenes deleted)
Anna Olin .... Aunt Elisabeth (scenes deleted)
Coding: All Region Code / NTSC format
Video: 4:3 Fullscreen
Audio: Dolby Digital / AC-3 / 5.1 Surround Sound
Subtitles: Chinese / English / (Removable)
Colour: Black & White