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Film / En Passion

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En Passion (The Passion of Anna in English) is a 1969 film directed by Ingmar Bergman, starring Liv Ullmann and Max von Sydow in the lead roles and fellow Bergman regulars Bibi Andersson and Erland Josephson in supporting roles. It serves as a sort of pseudo-sequel to/spinoff from Bergman's previous film, Skammen, which gets new context depending on how the audience reads a key scene in this film. This being Bergman, there's a lot left to interpretation.

The main character is Andreas, a former geologist living in self-imposed exile on a small Swedish island. After she asks to use his phone, he meets the mysterious Anna, a fellow islander mourning the recent death of her husband and son in an automobile accident. The two embark on a tentative romance, although their respective mysterious pasts prove disastrous to the relationship. Andreas also occasionally interacts with his middle class neighbours, architect Elis and his wife Eva (with whom Andreas has a brief affair). Against the backdrop of the quartet's complicated love lives, someone— or something— begins brutally killing livestock on the island, throwing the entire community into an air of suspicion and paranoia. In between it all, the film occasionally breaks the fourth wall for the actors to offer their own interpretations of what's happening in the movie and their character motivations. Again- it's Bergman.

This film is the third in a row where Liv Ullmann and von Sydow play an onscreen couple after Hour of the Wolf and Skammen. It is often incorrectly identified as Bergman's first color film, a title that actually belongs to All These Women, made five years earlier. The fact that Bergman himself says he "doesn't count" All These Women only further muddies the waters.


  • Alliterative Name: Anna and Andreas collectively have the one as an official couple.
  • All Just a Dream: Played with. At one point, Anna recounts a dream she had. We then get to see that dream, which appears to begin with the final moments of Bergman's previous movie, Shame, indicating that the entirety of that movie was only a dream had by Anna. This being a Bergman movie, it's never made 100% clear.
  • Bookworm: Played with; Andreas has two bookcases full of books, somewhat unusually for a small country house. However, he is never seen with any of them. When Eva asks him whether he has read all the books in his library, he only answers that he has not read all of them.
  • Broken Bird:
    • Anna Fromm, who recently lost her husband and child. It is later implied that she might be the breaker rather than the broken one.
    • Later this trope is reproduced literally when a bird hits the glass, is seriously hurt and mercykilled by Andreas.
  • Call-Back: Anna's black and white dream sequence is either meant to invoke Skammen or indicates that Skammen itself was entirely Anna's dream. Skammen ends with Liv Ullman's character on a boat filled with sleeping people adrift in the ocean, while Anna's dream begins with her on a boat filled with sleeping people adrift in the ocean.
  • Captain Obvious: Of very gloomy kind: Johan writes that when he was beaten up, he could not resist his attackers because he was out of strength.
  • Collector of the Strange: Elis collects the photos of humans sorted by theme, including a collection of photos of violent acts committed against people.
  • Color Motif: Most of the colours in the film are dull and muted, but whenever a bright red object appears, misfortune soon follows.
  • Confession Cam: An early example. All four actors express their ideas on their characters.
  • Dark and Troubled Past:
    • It is revealed in the second half of the film that Andreas served a term in prison after some minor legal trouble escalated into him assaulting a police officer. It foreshadows his later response to finding out Anna isn't who he thought she was.
    • Anna's past may be even more dark and troubled than the first half of the film implies; she may be the one who killed her previous husband and their son, and may have something to do with the spate of animal deaths on the island.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Eva tells Elis that no-one besides her pays much attention to his snarking.
  • Distinguished Gentleman's Pipe: For Andreas. He was trained to be a geologist.
  • Downer Ending: Anna proves to be very much not what she seems, and she and Andreas separate after a very bad fight.
  • Dramatic Drop: Anna drops a bowl of milk when Andreas once lies to her.
  • Driven to Suicide: Johan, when he is accused of killing the animals and tormented by the unknown assaulters.
  • The End: The film ends with the title "Slut", which is Swedish for "end", though some Anglophone viewers may find this ironically funny in relation to the story.
  • Fiery Redhead: Anna has red hair and is especially passionate when claiming to value honesty.
  • Fourth Wall Breaking: Every twenty minutes or so, the film switches to a brief interview with one of the lead actors (in order, von Sydow, Ullmann, Andersson, Josephson), where they give their thoughts on the character they're playing. Josephson's interview is notable since it comes up long after Elis is Put on a Bus. This was the first time Bergman tried something like that, and he never did it again. In his book Images he even singles it out as one of his big regrets as a director and says he wishes he'd excised them from the finished film.
  • Gainax Ending: After a violent fight, Andreas goes to the scene of the latest animal murder, where Anna finds him and picks him up in her car. After it becomes apparent she may have intentionally caused the car crash that killed her husband and son, she tries to run off the road, but Andreas stops her. She then abandons him on the side of the road and the picture begins to distort as Andreas paces back and forth before collapsing; a voice informs the viewer, "This time, his name was Andreas Winkleman" and the screen fades to white with a "The End" title card.
  • Hidden Depths: Anna might have killed her previous husband and son, though it is never confirmed.
  • Innocent Blue Eyes: Probably invoked for the truth-loving Anna, but later decisively subverted.
  • The Insomniac: Eva has problems sleeping at night. She reveals that when she was pregnant she had to be hospitalized because of it, and when she was given an injection to help her sleep, the dosage was accidentally too strong and she miscarried.
  • Karma Houdini:
    • The two vigilantes who tormented Johan, who was driven to suicide as a result. It is never indicated that Johan revealed their identity though he could do it.
    • Anna, as it is hinted that she might have killed her husband and her son.
    • Definitely for the killer of animals who may also be Anna.
  • Kubrick Stare: When Elis photographs Andreas, he tells him to move down his head, aiming for this effect.
  • Meaningful Name: Anna Fromm, Fromm meaning "pious" (or kindly) in German. This name may or may not be in agreement with her true nature.
  • Mercy Killing: For a Broken Bird (a real avian, not a human female) by Andreas in the presence of Anna.
  • Nordic Noir: As a tale of a man whose relationship with a mysterious woman with a possible Dark and Troubled Past turns him into an obsessive mess, you can call this a Bergman riff on Film Noir concepts, and with the Fårö setting, it can be seen as an early predecessor of the genre.
  • An Odd Place to Sleep: Eva can't sleep at night, so she falls asleep at random times and places. Andreas once finds her sleeping in her car during the day. Next time she falls asleep at his house.
  • Official Couple: Utterly oddly Eva, the former lover of Andreas, once says that Andreas and Anna are a couple and that she is not jealous before their relationship is ever shown onscrean. It is only after Eva mentions it that Andreas and Anna are shown together as a couple.
  • One-Steve Limit: Subverted as the deceased husband of Anna was called Andreas, like the main character played by von Sydow. He never appears, but the viewer is shown his photo. Elis lampshades this, calling the deceased man "the namesake" for Andreas.
  • Only in It for the Money: Elis recognizes that he only works as an architect because his earnings let him indulge in his unprofitable and expensive photography hobbies.
  • Pet the Dog:
    • When Andreas finds a dog in a noose on his plot, he removes the rope before the dog chokes to death.
    • Andreas is the only one to support Johan when he is wrongly accused of killing the animals.
  • Pretty in Mink: Eva wears a fur coat in the scene where she visits Andreas.
  • Put on a Bus: Eva and Elis are absent from the last act of the film.
  • Riddle for the Ages: Who was actually killing animals in the country? The one who was accused by the public opinion turned out to be innocent. The film ties a few incidents loosely to Anna, although whether she's actually physically killing them or whether her moods somehow psychically result in their deaths is left even more ambiguous.
  • The Scream: Andreas lets out a wail of despair when Eva leaves him after their brief romance.
  • Self-Deprecation: When Eva leaves Andreas after their brief romance, she says that she might be the dullest lover he ever had.
  • Sell-Out: Elis thinks he has sold out, as he works as a highly paid architect purely for the money.
  • Snuff Film: Elis' photo collection includes a drawer of acts of violence committed against people.
  • Splash of Color: In general, the colours in this movie are very dull; however, several times a splash of red punctuates the key moments:
    • First, the blood of the dead sheep is as bright as in a typical giallo.
    • Later, bright red bricks are shown on the ground immediately before the police tell Andreas that Johan has committed suicide.
    • Finally Anna's kerchief is bright red in the decisive scene between her and Andreas. She violently accuses him and he beats her up. The kerchief ends on the ground where the viewer previously saw the dead sheep and bricks.
  • Temporary Love Interest: Andreas and Eva have a very short fling once Elis leaves for a business trip.
  • Time Skip: The voiceover comments in the beginning of one scene that Anna and Andreas have lived together for several days. Later, the voiceover says they have lived together for several years and rarely have conflicts.
  • The Unsolved Mystery: It is never revealed who killed all those animals.
  • Wimp Fight: When the obviously much stronger Andreas attacks Anna, he hits her very maladroitly so that she manages to put up quite a fight against him for some time, delivering several blows. It is implied that he is not much of a fighter, although in the end he still beats her up.
  • Would Hit a Girl: Andreas definitely would once Anna accuses him of every sin imaginable and repeatedly cries at him.