Thirst (1949)

Thirst (Törst)torst
Directed by Ingmar Bergman
Written by Herbert Grevenius based on short stories by Birgit Tengroth
Sweden/1949
Svensk Filmindustri
First viewing/Hulu

“It is not a lack of love, but a lack of friendship that makes unhappy marriages.” ― Friedrich Nietzsche

Man, oh man, this is dark.  Almost 90 minutes of torment and marital discord.  Since it’s Bergman, it has its moments.

Rut and Bertil, a young married couple, are traveling by train to Stockholm after a holiday in Italy.  Rut basically puts all his energy into staying calm and sane while Bertil pours out her misery and berates him.  We flash back to the events that got her to this place.

First, she became pregnant by a man who did not reveal his marriage until their affair had almost reached its natural conclusion.  She wanted the child but was forced to abort it. The abortion left her sterile.  The nurse told her to cheer up as she still had her glamorous career in the ballet but of course her knee gave out and ended that.  She takes all this out on Rut non-stop.  She also continually harps on his earlier failure to end an affair with Viola, a fellow ballerina with a bad heart, soon enough to suit her.

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Throughout we also witness Viola’s sad story.  At some point she married.  Her husband is now dead and she is totally absorbed by grief.  Her emotional state is not improved by unwanted sexual advances by her obnoxious psychologist and her lesbian former ballerina colleague.  The ending holds out some shred of hope for Rut and Bertil but not so much for poor Viola.

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This looks good and the acting is great.  I think the movie suffers from its script. It’s distressing without any pay off.  At least when Bergman writes this sort of thing, he generally has something to say about the human condition that makes the torment worthwhile.

Clip – by this time one’s sympathies are firmly on the side of the husband

 

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