3. THE EMIGRANTS
Troell’s epic film, more than 2 1/2 hours long and infinitely absorbing and moving, is based upon “Upon a Good Land,” the best-selling series of Swedish novels by Vilhelm Moberg. At nearly $2 million, this is the most expensive and ambitious Swedish film ever made and one of the handful of foreign films ever to be shot partly on location in America. (Troell used the Great Lakes, Minnesota, northern Wisconsin – and Galena.) It tells the story of Swedish immigrants but it might as well be about any group of people. The voyage would have been just as long, the illnesses and deaths just as heartbreaking, the spirit as indomitable.
2. LAST TANGO IN PARIS
The movie may not contain Brando’s greatest performance, but it certainly contains his most emotionally overwhelming scene. He comes back to the hotel and confronts his wife’s dead body, laid out in a casket, and he speaks to her with words of absolute hatred — words which, as he says them, become one of the most moving speeches of love I can imagine. As he weeps, as he attempts to remove her cosmetic death mask (“Look at you! You’re a monument to your mother! You never wore makeup, never wore false eyelashes!”), he makes it absolutely clear why he is the best film actor of all time. He may be a bore, he may be a creep, he may act childish about the Academy Awards — but there is no one else who could have played that scene flat-out, no holds barred, the way he did, and make it work triumphantly.
1. CRIES AND WHISPERS
“Cries and Whispers” is like no movie I’ve seen before, and like no movie Ingmar Bergman has made before; although we are all likely to see many films in our lives, there will be few like this one. It is hypnotic, disturbing, frightening. It envelops us in a red membrane of passion and fear, and in some way that I do not fully understand it employs taboos and ancient superstitions to make its effect. We slip lower in our seats, feeling claustrophobia and sexual disquiet, realizing that we have been surrounded by the vision of a film maker who has absolute mastery of his art. “Cries and Whispers” is about dying, love, sexual passion, hatred and death – in that order.