Saturday, January 22, 2011


What is real, what is distorted reality, and what is unreal are three very blurry concepts in "The Hour of the Wolf." The viewer is left to piece together what he thinks is real (Alma and Johan's scenes together in the film), what is distorted (weird castle parties?), and what is unreal (the story of the little boy and Johan, and perhaps the scene in the castle with Veronica's "body?"). It is certain that the entire film is a puzzle with the different classifications of scenes as the pieces. I picture this "puzzle" as missing many pieces, or having holes because of the fact that Bergman takes no shame in leaving the viewer saying "huh?" after trying to piece the scenes together into a logical format. He leaves the viewer to decide for himself what is real and what is unreal, thus casting a shadow on said "plot line" because each viewer can interpret the pieces extremely differently.
Johan seems to feel trapped and very anxious in the end. Is it the anxiety of being a father and being tied in yet another way to Alma that makes him try to kill her? Does he really believe that he and Veronica have a future, or does he just feel like he has no other option after she reads his diary and finds that he has been deceiving her?

Also, from Alma's monologue in the beginning, is she regretting becoming "one" with Johsn and being so close to him that she could see the demons too? She believes that she was so close to him that the demons he saw also haunted her, even though she appearsto just be "along for the ride" during the entire film, especially during the castle scenes. The people in the castle seem to praise Johan's work but yet humiliate and torment him. The people from the castle are indeed the "demons" Johan has drawn, perhaps the very incarnations of them. It is shocking that Johan stays in the castle, around the very demons he has drawn. He seems to be alert and aware of the fact that they are the demons haunting him, but he stills accepts them and goes back to the castle a second time. Could perhaps his love for Veronica consume him so much that is he is willing to face the demons and raving? One thing is for sure: the viewer is left to figure that and other various aspects of the movie out for himself.

1 comment:

  1. You raise an interesting point about the fact that Johan chooses to stay in the castle. In retrospect, I don't think that this was really a conscious or deliberate decision. I’d have to watch it again, but it seems to me that most of Johan’s actions are the direct result of something that his demons have pushed him to do in one way or another. The boy taunts Johan until Johan feels forced to kill him. The therapist annoys Johan until Johan sucker-punches him in the face. It could be that Johan’s demons represent the type of unshakable personal demons that people tend to collect throughout life and just have to live with. Inevitably, a person’s memories, insecurities, etc. will on some level drive his or her behavior. Johan stays in the castle, I think, because he doesn’t have any choice; his actions are being driven by demons he has collected during his lifetime. This is a bit like splitting hairs, I guess, but considering how Johan struggles with his demons throughout the film, it seems that rather than accepting them he is simply overpowered by them.