Feature Film, 1968

Hour of the Wolf

Plagued by nightmares, a reclusive artist living on an isolated island has visions of demons.

"I call myself an artist for lack of a better name. In my creative work is nothing implicit, except compulsion. Through no fault of mine I've been pointed out as something extraordinary, a calf with five legs, a monster."
Johan Borg (Max von Sydow) in Hour of the Wolf

About the film

By autumn 1964 Bergman had completed a screenplay entitled 'The Cannibals'. However, in the spring of 1965 he fell ill with pneumonia, and the project was shelved. On his recovery, he pressed ahead with Persona in the late summer the same year. Various themes from The Cannibals were subsequently incorporated into The Hour of the Wolf, shot in 1966 from the end of May until late September. By the time of its premiere in 1968, his next feature Shame had already been completed.

The title of the film is explained in the opening credits:

'The hour of the wolf is the hour between night and dawn. It is the hour when most people die, when sleep is the deepest, when nightmares feel most real. It is the hour when the demons are most powerful. The hour of the wolf is also the hour when most children are born.'


Sources of inspiration 

In Bergman on Bergman, the director explains how the main character, Johan Borg, regards his own position as an artist as a affliction: 'He can't escape it. There's no question, that is, of a gift form on high. No other-worldly relationship. It's just there. A disease. A perverison. A five-legged calf. He takes a very brutal view of his situation.'

This attitude to his work appears similar in many ways to Bergman's own.


Shooting the film 

The exteriors for The Hour of the Wolf were shot for the most part on the coast in the Southern Swedish county of Halland at Hovs Hallar; the same spot where the famous scene of Death playing chess with the knight in The Seventh Seal had been filmed.


Epilogue 

International distribution was handled by the US Company United Artists. Despite mixed reactions in Sweden, in America at least two newspapers ranked it among the ten best films of the year.

Sources

  • The Ingmar Bergman Archives.
  • Stig Björkman, Torsten Manns & Jonas Sima, Bergman on Bergman, (New York: Da Capo P., 1993).

Collaborators