“Persona” - Ingmar Bergman (1966)

Persona (1966), written and directed by Ingmar Bergman, is one of that great Swedish filmmaker’s most challenging films.  Many viewers and critics alike have found this film, mostly just showing two isolated women looking to interact with each other, to be largely incomprehensible, and they could not understand even what the film is about.  Their difficulties were exacerbated by the problems they had making out which key scenes in the film were supposed to be imaginary and which ones were supposed to be “real”.  Not surprisingly, Persona won few awards when it was released, and it has drawn heavy criticism from such leading critics as Andrew Sarris [1] and Jonathan Rosenbaum [2].

Nevertheless and despite the film’s supposed inscrutability, Persona’s novel and artistic treatment of fundamental aspects of personhood has gradually attracted an enthusiastic global following, and it is now regarded by many as Bergman’s masterpiece and as one of the greatest films ever made [3,4,5,6,7,8,9].  The British Film Institute's 2012 international poll of film critics ranked Persona as the 17th greatest film of all time [11], and its 2012 international poll of film directors ranked Persona as the 13th greatest film of all time [12].  But even though Persona has attracted a devoted following, there is still widespread disagreement about what it all means.  As a result, there have been several books and collections devoted to the film, and film scholar Thomas Elsaesser has suggested that Persona may be the most seriously written-about film ever [6].

The film concerns two women, Elisabet Vogler (played Liv by Ullmann), who is a famous stage actress, and Alma (Bibi Andersson), who is a young nurse.  But before introducing these two personages, Bergman begins his film cryptically by showing an old film projector and then some disconnected images, including a slapstick silent-film sequence, a spider, a crucifixion, and a lamb being slaughtered.  Then we see a young boy waking up in a hospital cot and looking around, finally gazing on a large screen showing a blurry image of a woman’s face.

Then we are introduced to the two women, Elisabet and Alma.  In the middle of one of her stage performances, Elisabet suddenly and mysteriously became mute.  Her doctors subsequently determined that there is nothing physically wrong with Elisabet and that her now-total silence is the result of a stubborn decision on her part.  Elisabet’s psychiatrist doctor (played by Margaretha Krook) believes that Elisabet’s total withdrawal is due to a fanatic concern about her personal authenticity – Elisabet apparently doesn’t want to express anything that is not fundamentally true about herself, and so she is holding to her silence.  Consequently the doctor assigns nurse Alma to take Elisabet to the doctor’s remote island cottage and see if she can spend some relaxing time with the actress and help bring the woman out of her malaise.  

As I mentioned, it is argued by many (e.g. [5,6]) that the events shown in the film don’t add up to a single coherent story, thereby leaving viewers to construct their own stories out of the subsequent narrative shards that are presented.  These narrative shards can be grouped into six collections.

First “Conversation”
At the cottage, Alma tells her mute companion that she is happy to finally find someone to listen to her own babbling.  She begins talking about her current fiancé and also about her first romantic affair that was with an older man and that lasted five years.  

Then she tells a more detailed and sexually explicit story about a time when she was already involved with her fiancé and she went alone to the beach.  There she met another woman and the two of them engaged in some nude sunbathing.  Two young men then appeared, and Alma’s new woman friend uninhibitedly got them involved in a sex orgy.  Alma describes experiencing some intense orgasms, and film critic Roger Ebert commented that this was “the most real experience Alma has ever had” [4].  Later, however, Alma became pregnant and had an abortion, and she still feels guilty about this.  All this is told verbally, and there are no flashbacks here, as the mute Elisabet listens attentively.

Nighttime Encounter
It is becoming increasingly evident that Alma idolizes her patient, Elisabet, and wants to be like the famous star.  In the evening Alma thinks she hears Elisabet whispering to her to go to bed.  And then later at night, Alma wakes up to see (or perhaps dreams) Elisabet coming to her and embracing her tenderly.  In the morning, though, Allma asks Elisabet about these two incidents, and the woman silently denies that they occurred.

The Argument

One day Alma drives to town to mail some letters they have written, and she notices that Elisabet's letter to her doctor is not sealed, so she proceeds to read it.  It is a patronizing letter that is dismissive of Alma and mentions the nurse's personal story about her beach orgy and abortion. Alma, of course, becomes angry and withdraws from her hitherto worshipful feelings about her patient.

At this point the film briefly breaks up with some artificial cinema edits like in the opening sequence, thereby reminding the viewers that they are just watching a movie.

When Alma returns home, she angrily confronts Elisabet and threatens to scald her with a pot of boiling water.  Frightened, Elisabet speaks out for the first and begs Alma not to do it.  Then Alma furiously goes on to tell her that she knows the woman is a very bad person.  Elisabet runs off, and when Alma, coming to her senses, chases after her and begs her for forgiveness, Elisabet refuses to forgive her.

Elisabet’s Husband Comes
One night, Alma hears a man outside calling for Elisabet, and it turns out to be Elisabet's husband (played by Gunnar Björnstrand).  The man seems to have bad eyesight, and he mistakes Alma for his wife.    Although Alma tells him he is mistaken, she very soon succumbs and assumes Elisabet's identity.  Alma and the husband then go on to have sex together while Elisabet, close by, silently watches.

Elisabet's Confession
Earlier, Elisabet had received a letter from her husband that contained a picture of her son, which she had proceeded to tear up.  Now Alma meets with Elisabet to talk about why Elisabet tore up the picture.  Elisabet proceeds to give her account, and we see her face, but her account is told in Alma’s voice.  The voice says that the only thing that Elisabet wanted that she did not have was motherhood, and so she became pregnant. However, she soon regretted her decision and tried to have a self-induced abortion, but she failed in this effort.  She wound up giving birth to a boy who she hoped would die and whom she has since always  despised.  Nevertheless her rejected son has always craved her love.

Strangely, this same story is then repeated word-for-word, only now showing Alma’s face telling the exact same story.

The film ends with Alma in a distressed state.  She adamantly asserts to Elisabet that she has her own identity that is very distinct from that of Elisabet.  She later finally manages to get Elisabet to say something – the word "nothing".  Then Alma packs up her things and gets on a bus to leave the cottage, which is accompanied by a shot showing  a modern film crew filming her.

So what can be said about the overall meaning of this odd, disjointed work?  As one watches it, it is possible to make out some key themes that resonate throughout:
  • Personal authenticity (and inauthenticity).  What is the true essence of a person and how is it revealed?  
  • Images of the face and the degree to which they can reveal or mask one’s true personhood.  
  • Touching with hands and the degree to which that can confirm the reality of what one sees.
  • The inadequacy of language for revealing the essential nature of experience.
  • The never-ending quest for the true meaning of life.
These various themes and metaphors in the film have elicited a range of commentary over the years, but the most interesting thoughts I have come across have been those of Susan Sontag, who wrote an insightful essay on Persona in 1967, soon after the film was released [5].  For example, on the issue of plot and how one might best construct a coherent narrative with what is shown in the film, Sontag doesn’t believe that Bergman ever had any intention offering a real plot [5]:
“Once it is conceived that the desire to ‘know’ may be (in part) systematically thwarted, the old expectations about plotting can no longer hold. At first, it may seem that a plot in the old sense is still there; only it’s being related at an oblique, uncomfortable angle, where vision is obscured. Eventually though it needs to be seen that the plot isn’t there at all in the old sense, and therefore that the point isn’t to tantalise but to involve the audience more directly in other matters, for instance in the very processes of ‘knowing’ and ‘seeing’.”
And on the interesting topic of what is Alma’s authentic self and to what degree does she move to find herself, Sontag has an interesting take.  She asserts that Alma and Elisabet can be considered to be two sides of one person [5]:
“It’s correct to speak of the film in terms of the fortunes of two characters named Elizabeth and Alma who are engaged in a desperate duel of identities. But it is no less true, or relevant, to treat Persona as what might be misleadingly called an allegory: as relating the duel between two mythical parts of a single ‘person’, the corrupted person who acts (Elizabeth) and the ingenuous soul (Alma) who founders in contact with corruption.”
(Indeed, at one point Bergman shows a special image of a single face that consists of half of Elisabet’s face on one side and half of Alma’s face on the other side.)

Sontag’s comment here is,  to me, the most compelling interpretive observation on the film, and it fits well with several other expressionistic sequences of the film, too, such as (a) the nighttime encounter between Elisabet and  Alma, (b) Elisabet’s husband mistakenly taking Alma for his wife, and (c) the exact repetition of Elisabet’s confession, showing first Elisabet’s face and then Alma’s face, but each time spoken in Alma’s voice.

So Persona is a challenging and perplexing film, but it also has a fascinating focus, and I believe it is worthy of your interest.  

  1. Andrew Sarris, “films”, The Village Voice, (23 March 1967).  
  2. Jonathan Rosenbaum, “Scenes From an Overrated Career”, The New York Times, (4 August 2007).   
  3. Roger Ebert, “Persona”, RogerEbert.com, (7 November 1967).   
  4. Roger Ebert, “Persona”, Great Movie, “RogerEbert.com”, (7 January 2001).   
  5. Susan Sontag, “Persona – Review by Susan Sontag”, Sight and Sound, (Autumn 1967).  
  6. Thomas Elsaesser, “The Persistence of Persona”, The Criterion Collection, (17 March 2016).   
  7. Chuck Bowen, “Blu-ray Review: Ingmar Bergman’s Persona on the Criterion Collection”, Slant Magazine, (21 March 2014).   
  8. Peter Bradshaw, “Persona review – Ingmar Bergman's enigmatic masterpiece still captivates”, The Guardian, (29 December 2017).   
  9. Acquarello, “Persona, 1966", Strictly Film School, (25 December 2017).   
  10. “Critics’ Top 100", Analysis: The Greatest Films of All Time 2012, Sight and Sound, British Film Institute, (2012).      
  11. “Directors’ Top 100", Analysis: The Greatest Films of All Time 2012, Sight and Sound, British Film Institute, (2012).      

“Cries and Whispers” - Ingmar Bergman (1972)

Ingmar Bergman’s Cries and Whispers (Viskningar och rop, 1972) is a unique film in several respects and is unlike other films in Bergman’s oeuvre.  For one thing, the film doesn’t trace out a straightforward, coherent narrative like most filmed dramas.  Instead, it consists of a collection of emotion-tempered recollections and visions on the parts of its four main characters.  On account of this, the film has drawn a range of reactions from various reviewers.  Famed film critic Andrew Sarris hated the film [1].  On the other hand, Roger Ebert was captivated by the film and had this to say about it [2]:
"’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.”
And overall, the film has come to be regarded as a classic [2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9].  Moreover, the  artistic craftsmanship employed in the making of this offering was recognized by the U.S. Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences by earning five Oscar nominations, including one for “Best Picture” (not just a nomination for “Best International Feature Film”, i.e. Best Foreign Film).

For my part, as I watched Cries and Whispers, I was initially somewhat skeptical and thought that some of the characters were perhaps too schematically drawn to fuel a gripping drama.  But as the film played on, I became increasingly drawn in to the psychological themes on display.  As critic Emma Wilson remarked [8],
“Its [Cries and Whispers’s] achievement, making it emerge from Bergman’s extraordinary corpus as unique, is in its incandescent touching of love and horror in their fullest extremes.”
Indeed, there are a number of passionate human existential themes interwoven into this tale:
  • Honesty and authenticity
  • Communication
  • Human intimacy 
  • Pain
  • Death
  • Love
But before we look at the coverage of these themes in the film, we need to clear up a matter concerning the English title of the film.  “Cries and Whispers” is an English translation of the Swedish title, “Viskningar och rop”, but the English rendering likely suggests the feelings of whimpering sadness.  However, as Norman Holland has pointed out, the English word ‘cries’ has two meanings – (a) “crying out”, i.e. shouting, and (b) tearful sadness, whereas the Swedish word ‘rop’ connotes only shouting [4].  So a more precise, though less poetic, translation of “Viskningar och rop” would be “Whispers and Shouts”.  This suggests that a key aspect of this film is concerned not so much with sadness, but with contrasting types of spoken communication, which is one of the above-listed themes of the film.  

The events in the film take place in a large manor house in the Swedish countryside near the end of the 19th century, and they concern the thoughts and feelings of the four adult women who are staying there.  (There are men in this film, but they are mostly mechanical ciphers with little feeling.)  Three of these women are sisters – Agnes (played by Harriet Andersson), her older sister Karin (Ingrid Thulin), and Agnes’s younger sister Maria (Liv Ullmann) – and the fourth woman is the housemaid, Anna (Kari Sylwan), who has served at the home for twelve years.  Karin and Maria have come to the mansion to attend to their terminally ill sister, Agnes, who is suffering in the final stages of intestinal cancer.  The film opens showing Agnes in bed and suffering extreme pain, the intensity of which is underlined by a two-minute extreme closeup shot showing Agnes’s agonized face.  In the adjoining room the other three women are shown expressing their concern.  

Then the film begins its sequence of subjective recollections and visions, some of which seem to be fantasies.  These are all encapsulated by fade-ins and fade-outs from and to a deep red color, rather than black, and they feature a closeup of the woman having the vision before fully fading to a deep red hue.  Indeed color is a key feature of this film, particularly red, which Bergman once said represented for him the “interior of the soul” [5].  And of course black and white have also always been key shades for Bergman.  Norman Holland has symbolized these three colors for Bergman as “red for the fruitful, sensuous mother; white for the virgin; black for the death-goddess” [4].  Here in this film we can further identify these colors with the four women: Maria (red), Karin (black), Anna (white), and Agnes (white).

The sequence of subjective recollections and visions provide little narratives concerning how the four women see themselves and the others.  After all, this is only natural – we tend to characterize ourselves and other people in our acquaintance not as lists of facts, but in terms of brief narratives that we have constructed for the purpose [10,11,12].  

To reveal Maria’s nature, there is a revelatory recollection of an occasion when Agnes’s doctor, David (Erland Josephson), pays a brief clinical visit to the mansion and before departing is privately approached by Maria.  We learn that Maria and David had had a past extramarital affair (which had induced her neglected husband Joakim (Henning Moritzen) to attempt suicide) and that now Maria wants to rekindle things.  But David doesn’t want to restart anything with the woman, and he holds her in front of a mirror so she can see his description of how her many years of selfish, good-natured  superficiality has affected her face.  Maria, looking at her image in the mirror, seems to accept David’s painful diagnosis.  

On another occasion, though, Maria is shown approaching her sister Karin and seeking to restore their once affectionate relationship when they were growing up.  Maria wants to again touch and kiss her sister, but Karin is standoffish and reluctant to do that.  However, Karin eventually succumbs to Maria’s approaches, and they embrace affectionately.  On a later occasion, though, Karin wants to resume the affectionate gestures with her sister, but Maria is shocked and has forgotten all about the earlier encounter.  This reveals that, essentially, Maria is a mostly genial, outward-going, touchy-feely person, but she lives mostly in the present and generally doesn’t retain long-held feelings.

Karin, on the other hand, is a lonely and thoughtful, inner-directed person who harbors long-held resentments.  There is a recollective vision which shows her having dinner with her husband, Fredrik (Georg Årlin), who is cold and self-centered.  Afterwards, she takes a piece of broken glass and uses it to painfully mutilate her genitalia so that she can deny her husband from having sex with her.

Anna, the maid, is a simple person but full of warmth and compassion.  She is religious and prays to God regularly, and she doesn’t question what she considers God’s unfathomable wisdom for having years ago taken the life of her young daughter.  After Agnes’s death, Anna recalls or imagines a period when Agnes briefly came back to life and called out for solace from her deathbed.  Karin and Maria were disturbed at the sight of such an apparition and withdrew in horror, but Anna went to Agnes and instinctively enfolded her in her bosom the way a mother would do to comfort her suffering child.

We don’t get much about Agnes’s inner personal vision until the end of the film.  Maria’s and Karin’s  husbands come to the manor home to shut things down, and they cold-heartedly dismiss Anna without any severance.  So Anna must clear out her things, and in the process of tidying things up, she comes across Agnes’s diary.  Anna reads an entry in the diary, which is dramatically visualized, in which Agnes describes an earlier time when she was feeling better, and an occasion when she, Karin, Maria, and Anna frolicked together in a park.  In particular, Agnes highlighted a shared moment of oneness when they engaged in swinging on a swing.  This was such a special moment for Agnes, and she said [4],
“The people I am most fond of in all the world were with me. I could hear their chatting around me. I could feel the presence of their bodies, the warmth of their hands.  I wanted to hold the moment fast and thought,
‘Come what may, this is happiness. I cannot wish for anything better. Now, for a few minutes, I can experience perfection. And I feel profoundly grateful to my life, which gives me so much.’”
So the film ends giving one the feeling that though her life was painful and tragically shortened, Agnes was perhaps the one who lived life most authentically and thereby to the fullest.  She had the ability to recognize and hold onto all the beautiful moments she experienced in life.  This is the scene that brings things together and makes the film a coherent whole.  But this is only one of the film’s moving expressions of engagement (or would-be engagement).

In fact there are several scenes in Cries and Whispers that critics have singled out as being uniquely brilliant, even for Ingmar Bergman.  Emma Wilson, writing for The Criterion Collection, treasured two other scenes – one of Anna enfolding Agnes in her bosom and another of Agnes returning to life, to the horror of her sisters [8]:
“These two scenes are unequaled in any film, I think, in their finding of a form, an image, to hold unspeakable emotions.“
Roger Ebert had his own take on favorite scenes [2]:
"These two scenes – of Anna, embracing Agnes, and of Karin and Maria touching like frightened kittens – are two of the greatest Bergman has ever created.”
When you see the film, you may have your own favorites.  Together, all these moments of visionary emotive expression in Cries and Whispers add up to a moving cinematic experience.

  1. Andrew Sarris, “films in focus”, The Village Voice, (28 December 1972).   
  2. Roger Ebert, “Cries and Whispers”, RogerEbert.com, (12 February 1973).   
  3. Vincent Canby, “Bergman's New ‘Cries and Whispers’”, The New York Times, (22  December 1972).   
  4. Norman N. Holland, “Ingmar Bergman, Cries and Whispers, Viskningar och rop, 1984.”, A Sharper Focus, (1984).   
  5. Peter Cowie, “Cries and Whispers”, The Criterion Collection, (18 June 2001).   
  6. Roger Ebert, “Cries and Whispers”, Great Movies, RogerEbert.com, (18 August 2002).   
  7. Marco Lanzagorta, “Cries and Whispers”, Senses of Cinema. (March 2003).   
  8. Emma Wilson, “Cries and Whispers: Love and Death”, The Criterion Collection, (1 April 2015).
  9. Margarita Landazuri, "Cries and Whispers”, Turner Classic Movies, (23 February 2016).  
  10. Roger Schank and Gary Saul Morrison, Tell Me a Story: Narrative and Intelligence (Rethinking Theory), Northwestern, (1990).  
  11. Jerome Bruner, “The Narrative Construction of Reality”, in Narrative Intelligence (2003), Michael Mateas and Phoebe Sengers (eds.), John Benjamin Publishing Co.
  12. Paul Ricoeur, Time and Narrative, vols. I- III, (1983-1985), University of Chicago Press.

“Autumn Sonata” - Ingmar Bergman (1978)

One of Ingmar Bergman’s last movies made expressly for the cinema, Autumn Sonata (Höstsonaten, 1978), was something of a masterpiece in both style and content.  Consisting of mostly an extended, bitter colloquy between an elderly mother and her married daughter, one wouldn’t expect material of this nature would be suitable for a fascinating film.  But writer-director Ingmar Bergman, with the help of his two leading actresses, Liv Ullmann and Ingrid Bergman, fashioned a gripping psychological drama that keeps the viewer interested all the way, and Autumn Sonata has been highly regarded by a number of critics over the years [1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8].  This was Ingrid Bergman’s last film appearance (and the only collaboration between the two famous Swedish Bergmans), but she gives here one of her most moving performances to cap off her career.

At the time when this film was made (1977), Ingmar Bergman was going through an anguishing period, because he had been charged and arrested by the Swedish authorities for tax-evasion in 1976.  Although the charges were soon dropped later that year, the now-depressed Bergman went into self-exile for the next four years and thereby cut off his ties with the Swedish filmmaking industry during that period.  Nevertheless, he continued to make films during this time, and Autumn Sonata was shot in Norway and produced in West Germany.  And with this film Bergman also continued with his relatively later-in-his-career focus on the complex moods and interactions of female psyches.  Many of these films featured Liv Ullmann (in addition to Autumn Sonata, these include Persona (1966), Shame (Skammen, 1968), The Passion of Anna (En Passion, 1969), Cries and Whispers (1972), and Scenes from a Marriage (Scener ur ett Aktenskap, 1973)), who was also a sometime romantic partner of Bergman’s.

The story of Autumn Sonata concerns the wife of a country parson, Eva (played by Liv Ullmann), who invites her semi-estranged mother Charlotte (Ingrid Bergman) to come to her rural home for an extended visit.  Charlotte, who is a famous concert pianist, is grieving over the recent death of her romantic partner of eighteen years, and although the mother and daughter have not seen each other for seven years, Eva now wants to extend a loving hand of support to her long-unseen mother.  

The film actually begins with Eva’s husband, parson Viktor (Halvar Björk), directly looking into the camera and describing his wife, who can be seen in the background but is out of earshot.  But although the film starts with Viktor, he turns out to be a minor character – a kindly and basically passive observer to what will really be a story about Eva and Charlotte and their contrasting personalities.  Although Eva is successful and has written two books, we will soon see that she is a modest, self-effacing person who is bent on helping and nurturing the people around her.  Charlotte, in contrast, is a vivacious,  self-confident performer, and she is used to projecting what is on her mind to the people around her.  As we soon learn, the reason why Eva hasn’t seen her mother for seven years is that Charlotte has been just too occupied with her own affairs to attend to the affairs of others.

When Charlotte arrives at Eva’s country home, she is joyfully greeted by her gracious daughter, who is thrilled to hear that her mother intends to stay there indefinitely.  But when mother and daughter sit down and start talking, troubles arise.  The first issue is that Eva reveals that she has taken her severely-handicapped younger sister, Helena (Lena Nyman), out of a medical care home and brought her into her own home to look after her.  Helena is suffering from an incurable, degenerative neurological condition that has left her mostly paralyzed and unable to speak intelligibly.  Years earlier, when Charlotte had been confronted with her daughter Helena’s deteriorating condition, she had ultimately chosen to have the girl institutionalized and had thereafter never even bothered to go visit Helena there – evidently out of sight, out of mind!  So Charlotte is severely uncomfortable about seeing and facing up to Helena now.  But Charlotte now decides to buckle up, and she goes into Helena’s room, where she graciously greets her crippled daughter and puts on a show of motherly affection.  Although she cannot talk intelligibly, it is clear that Helena is ecstatic to see her long-absent mother.

A bit later while Charlotte and Eva are talking, Charlotte urges the reluctant Eva to play a piano piece that her daughter has been working on, Chopin’s “Prelude No. 2 in A Minor”.  Although Eva is competent at the piano, she is by no means a concert-level pianist like her mother.  As she listens to her daughter play, Charlotte can be seen wincing at some of the passages – she doesn’t agree with Eva’s interpretation of the piece.  Then Charlotte sits down at the keyboard and plays the same piece the way she thinks it should be played.  Although Eva doesn’t say much, we can see that she is traumatized by the way her proud mother has dismissed her efforts.  Clearly a caring mother should have shown some appreciation for her daughter’s humble attempt to play a piece for her.

Still later, Eva talks to Charlotte about her son Erik, who died just before his fourth birthday and for whom she still grieves.  At that time, Charlotte had been too busy to come and attend her grandson’s funeral.

That night Charlotte has a nightmare of Helena coming to her bed and choking her, and she cries out in the night.  Eva comes to Charlotte’s room to comfort her, and they begin a long, ultimately heated conversation that is the core narrative sequence in the film and takes up about 36 minutes of the film’s running time.  The theme of the ensuing colloquy becomes Eva’s complaints about Charlotte’s failure as a mother.  The viewer has already seen that Charlotte is cordial and self-confident, but she is also self-centered, and Eva feels that selfishness more or less defines her mother and accounts for all of her unforgivable failures.  

Gradually Eva’s commentary turns into a long diatribe against her mother.  She complains that her mother was always away from home on concert tours or attending to endless practice and rehearsals.  The few periods that Charlotte did spend at home, she was, according to Eva, domineering and insensitive to her daughter’s needs.  For example, there was the time when Eva was 18 and pregnant, and her mother forced her to have an abortion.  Eva says she was a sensitive, introverted person and that her always imperious, super-confident mother continually made her feel inferior, which suppressed her development growing up.

Throughout this invective, Liv Ullmann performs movingly and realistically, and Ingmar Bergman, along with his long-time cinematographer Sven Nykvist, maintain the emotive tension with a back-and-forth sequence of adroit closeups showing Ullmann speaking and Ingrid Bergman in horrified reaction.  In this story, Charlotte, who is always used to projecting herself, has to shut up and listen.

Charlotte, sympathetically now, starts talking about her own anguished childhood, which she thinks contributed to her shortcomings as a mother.  But Eva won’t letup and now begins talking about Charlotte’s neglect of Helena when she was a child.  In fact Eva claims that Charlotte’s neglect of Helena when she was an infant was a cause of Helena’s neurological condition.  During this part of the conversation, there are intercut shots of Helena rolling out of her bed upstairs and struggling to crawl out on the landing.  She cries out – shockingly, because her words are for the first time intelligible – “Mama, come!”.  Clearly her mother’s presence in the house has a powerful effect on Helena.

At the end of the long indictment, Charlotte, now full of remorse, tearfully begs Eva for forgiveness.  But it remains unclear whether her resentful daughter is willing to do that.

The next day shows Charlotte on a train out of town with her agent Paul (Gunnar Björnstrand).  She has apparently made good on her vow to donate the expensive car in which she had arrived to her daughter, and she appears to be back to her old self.  She tells Paul about Helena and wonders out loud why couldn’t Helena just die?  So we have to wonder how much Charlotte’s encounter with Eva really changed her.

Meanwhile Eva is shown walking in the cemetery around her son Erik’s grave and brooding about suicide.  At the same time Helena is shown to be hysterically upset at the news that her mother has departed.

Later, in the closing shots, Eva composes a letter to Charlotte apologizing for what she had said the previous night and expressing her hope that the two of them can get together and have a renewed relationship.  It is by no means clear that this is likely to happen, though.

Ingmar Bergman shot Autumn Sonata in just 15 days, but still managed to produce an extremely polished work.  So it is surprising to read that there were clashes between Ingrid Bergman and Ingmar Bergman during the film concerning the interpretation of the Charlotte character [3,5].  It seems that Ingrid favored a softer, more sympathetic interpretation, while Ingmar wanted a more hard-boiled version.  I’m not sure how it played out on the set, but I would say that Ingrid Bergman’s sensitive portrayal of this character was a key to the film’s success, and anything she may have done to soften and deepen the role was a probably a valuable contribution.

In fact what is fascinating about Autumn Sonata is that we have an encounter between two complex characters, the types of which we all have some familiarity with.  Charlotte is absorbed with her own concerns, but she has confidence and is used to projecting her cordial self in social encounters.  She is upbeat, but she is selfish.  Eva, in contrast, is more contemplative and internalized – she wants to know herself.  While Charlotte is unlikely to examine herself, Eva is eternally mystified by herself.  

Compared to her mother, indeed compared to most everyone, Eva is very self-effacing and continually devoted to helping and nurturing others.  This is all part of her trying to be who she wants to be.  She doesn’t really love anybody, not even her husband Viktor.  But she wants to care for him and for so many others, like her crippled sister, Helena.  Thus Eva’s sympathetic efforts have made her the only one who can make sense of Helena’s unintelligible grunts and jabbers.

But Eva is not completely benign.  She is full of resentment for her mother, and she can’t resist spewing out her long pent-up anger towards the woman during her night-long vituperative condemnation of her mother’s parental sins.  You have to wonder what good can come now from bombarding a sixtyish woman with such angry accusations concerning the woman’s selfishness and motherly neglect.  It seems she wants to make her mother suffer the way she suffered.  

So no one is completely innocent here, and Ingmar managed to fashion an emotive psychodrama concerning these characters by showing their intense interactions, mostly in closeup.  (The only real longshots are those involving flashback sequences concerning Charlotte, Eva, and Helena in the past.)  These extended, somber-colored sequences of expressive closeups, both of the one explaining her feelings of resentment and of the reactions of the horrified listener trying to be sympathetic, are what make Autumn Sonata a special presentation of long-held-back human emotion.

  1. Norman N. Holland, “Ingmar Bergman, Autumn Sonata, Höstsonaten, 1978.”, A Sharper Focus, (n.d.).   
  2. Peter Cowie, “Autumn Sonata”, The Criterion Collection, (31 December 1999).   
  3. David Sterritt, “Autumn Sonata”, Turner Classic Movies, (8 June 2010).   
  4. Chuck Bowen, “Blu-ray Review: Ingmar Bergman’s Autumn Sonata on the Criterion Collection, Slant Magazine, (12 September 2013).   
  5. Farran Smith Nehme, Autumn Sonata: Mothers, Daughters, and Monsters”, The Criterion Collection, (16 September 2013).   
  6. Julian Murphy, “Three Doors into the Chamber of Ingmar Bergman’s Autumn Sonata, Senses of Cinema, Issue 75, (June 2015).   
  7. Acquarello, “Autumn Sonata, 1978", Strictly Film School, (27 December 2017).    
  8. Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat, “Autumn Sonata”, Spirituality & Practice, (n.d.).

“And Then There Were None” - René Clair (1945)

And Then There Were None (1939) is not only English mystery writer Agatha Christie’s most popular novel, it is the most widely read mystery novel ever written, with more than 100 million copies sold [1].  This novel (which was originally titled Ten Little Niggers but was soon changed to And Then There Were None) was refashioned by Christie in 1943 into a stage play with an altered, more upbeat, ending; and it is this play that has served as the basis for numerous film and TV adaptations around the world over the years.  However, the most famous of these adaptations was the first – the 1945 American film And Then There Were None, directed by René Clair.

What makes Christie’s story so irresistibly enticing?  It is undoubtedly the story’s foundational proposition – ten strangers stranded in a lone mansion on a small island are facing the prospect that an unknown member of their group is intent on killing all the others, one-by-one.  As the murders proceed, the surviving parties (and the viewers) must continually revise their suspicions as to who might be the fiendish perpetrator.  Since everyone is ultimately under suspicion, the atmosphere for paranoia is intense.  As such, this turns out to be one of the ultimate claustrophobic whodunits.     

René Clair, the film‘s director, was a famous French filmmaker and something of an auteur, but he spent the  war years of  World War II self-exiled in the U.S., where he had the opportunity to direct a number of Hollywood films (e.g. The Flame of New Orleans (1941), I Married a Witch (1942), It Happened Tomorrow (1944), and finally And Then There Were None (1945)).  So not surprisingly, this film’s production was very much a standard Hollywood product, with the script, cinematography, editing, and music all handled by Hollywood veterans Dudley Nichols, Lucien N. Andriot, Harvey Manger, and Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco, respectively.  Even so, the uniqueness of Agatha Christie’s story has made the film largely stand out as something of an art-house favourite over the years [2,3,4,5,6].

The film begins with eight people, all mutually strangers to each other, being delivered in a small boat to an isolated island off the English coast.  We will soon learn their identities:
  • Judge Francis Quinncannon (played by Barry Fitzgerald), a legal authority
  • Dr. Edward Armstrong (Walter Huston), a medical physician
  • William Blore (Roland Young), a police detective 
  • General Sir John Mandrake (Aubrey Smith), a military officer
  • Prince Nikki Starloff (Mischa Auer), an upper-class wastrel
  • Emily Brent (Judith Anderson), an older upper-class woman
  • Philip Lombard (Louis Hayward)
  • Vera Claythorne (June Duprez)
They are all guests of a Mr. Owen whom they have never met.  When they arrive on the island, they are taken to a lone mansion tended to by two newly hired servants, Mr. and Mrs. Rogers, who have also never met Mr. Owen.  When the guests sit down for dinner, they notice a flamboyant centerpiece on the table featuring ten figurines of (American) Indians.  This odd centerpiece, which can evoke the macabre children’s nursery rhyme “Ten Little Indians”, will serve as a physical metaphor for the gruesome events to follow.  

Then Mr. Rogers, following instructions he had received from Mr. Owen, plays a phonograph record having a recording addressed to the newly arrived guests.  The recorded voice asserts that, based on inside information, it knows and spells out how each of ten people in the house – the eight invited guests and Mr. and Mrs. Rogers – is individually responsible for the deaths of one or more innocent people.  Essentially, they are all unconvicted murderers.  And so, according to the voice on the recording, they all deserve to be executed.

Naturally, this announcement is disruptive to the equanimity of the group, who are in the initial stages of getting to know each other.  There are various angry denials, as well as confessions of some degrees of guilt.  But they all feel that they are now the targets of revenge for their alleged past deeds.

Then the sequence of mysterious deaths begins.  The first one happens quickly.  After Prince Starloff sits down at the piano in the drawing room and plays and sings the children’s nursery song “Ten Little Indians”, he takes a sip from a cocktail drink and then keels over, dead.  The cocktail drink was mysteriously poisoned.  In this and in the subsequent death cases, the identity of the  perpetrator of the vengeful murder is unknown.  But each occasion is accompanied by an equally mysterious disappearance of another Indian figurine from the dining room table.  And the circumstances of each death weirdly reflect the circumstances of the corresponding Indian disappearance mentioned in the nursery rhyme.  At first the life-threatened guests believe that there nemesis is somewhere on the island outside the mansion.  But after thoroughly investigating this possibility, they conclude that their existential antagonist is a disguised member of their own group.

Most of the guests are stereotypes of their professional backgrounds, and so they stereotypically apply their accustomed skills to finding who is the murderer.  Thus Judge Quinncannon sees things from a legal perspective;  Dr. Armstrong sees things from a medical perspective;  General Mandrake sees things from a military perspective; and Detective Blore just wants to collect all the evidence.  Although some viewers may like this heterogeneous problem-solving admixture, I found it a bit too artificial for my taste.

So the sequence of surreptitious murders continues to play itself out, with the identity of the cold-blooded killer being continually restricted to one of a set of candidates among the declining number of surviving guests.  Eventually the viewer does learn who it is, and I will leave it to you to see the film and find out for yourself.

Enticing as this challenging many-suspect whodunit might seem, though, the film And Then There Were None doesn’t live up to its potential for several reasons:
  • For one thing, there don’t seem to be potential motivations for the murders committed on the island, and this leads to an absence of suspicions.  I believe murder mysteries are best outfitted with threatening suspects whose suspected motivations can help drive the narrative. This problem here likely stems from the overly simplified and stereotyped characterizations of the guests in this story.
  • Two of the guests, Vera Claythorne and Philip Lombard (whose real name later turns out to be Charles Morley), are much younger than the other guests and very glamorous compared to the others.  This makes it too obvious that they are innocent parties and that they are likely to be the protagonists in identifying the true culprit.
  • And finally, the film makes too light of the notion of death and basically adopts a mocking attitude toward the loss of life.  This may help lighten the dark tenor of the story, but the film dialogue goes too far in this direction.  In fact the incessant flow of superficial wisecracks in this area wears pretty thin before we come to the end of the story.
So And Then There Were None may offer you an interesting mind diversion sometime, but it is a story that could have been fashioned into a more compelling cinematic experience.

  1. “And Then There Were None”, Wikipedia, (30 September 2021).    
  2. Bosley Crowther, “SHE SCREEN IN REVIEW; 'And Then There Were None,' With Barry Fitzgerald, at Roxy, Appears Opportunely as Goblins Pay Annual Visit Universal Offers a Refashioned Drama of Pirandello in Film 'This Love of Ours,' New Bill Showing at Loew's Criterion At Loew's Criterion”, The New York Times, (1 November 1945).   
  3. Variety Staff, “And Then There Were None”, Variety, (31 December 1944).   
  4. Leonard Maltin (ed.), “And Then There Were None”, Leonard Maltin’s Classic Movie Guide, PLUME, Penguin Press, (2005). 
  5. Jeremy Arnold, “And Then There Were None on Blu-ray”, Turner Classic Movies, (18 September 2013).   
  6. Jay Carr, “And Then There Were None - And Then There Were None”, Turner Classic Movies, (9 January 2014).   

René Clair

Films of René Clair:

“Nomadland” - Chloé Zhao (2020)

Nomadland (2020) is an award-winning drama whose approach to the realism of its subject matter is both original and also something that underlies the film’s themes.  This film is a story about “vandwellers” in America – people who live in campervans, RVs, mobile homes, or modified buses and have no fixed abode.  Although the film is a work of dramatic fiction, it is closely based on a nonfiction book that documents the lives of these wandering vandwellers, Nomadland: Surviving America in the Twenty-First Century (2017) by Jessica Bruder (in fact Jessica Bruder is credited as a “consulting producer” for the film).  Moreover, almost all of the people who appear in this film are real-life nomadic vandwellers with no prior acting experience.  They are just playing themselves.  

However, Nomadland is not an example of fly-on-the-wall cinema verite.  It is a carefully crafted drama, with masterful cinematography by Joshua James Richards and haunting sound-track music by Ludovico Einaudi.  Neither is it quite appropriate to categorize this film as another example of Italian neo-realism, because there are certain distinguishing aspects of this film that make it rather unique.  

For one thing the film was written, directed, edited and co-produced by Chinese-born American Chloé Zhao, and although Ms. Zhao received a film education at NYU film school, she brings her own original, externally-based eye to the aspects of American life that she writes and films about.  In the context of this film, she seems fascinated by a phenomenon of growing general alienation that is starting to emerge among many ordinary people in America.  And as this film shows, many people have no choice but to accept it.  

So alienation is clearly one important aspect of Nomadland, but there are also other thematic elements present, as well, and these all collectively contribute to reasons for why Zhao’s film has been so remarkably well-received.  On the awards front, Nomadland had almost a clean sweep.  The film won Oscars for Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Actress (and nominations in three other categories) at the 93rd U.S. Academy Awards.  It won the Golden Lion (best film) at the 2020 Venice Film Festival.  It was chosen as Best Film at the 74th British Academy Film Awards (BAFTAs).  And at the 78th Golden Globe Awards, it won an award for Best Motion Picture – Drama and an award for Best Director.  And among top film critics, Nomadland has been widely praised [1,2,3,4,5,6,7].

The meandering story of Nomadland is concerned with a sixtyish woman, Fern (played by award-winning actress Frances McDormand), who has just embarked on a new life as a nomadic vandweller.  She and her husband had worked for years at a gypsum plant in small company-town Empire, Nevada.  But now the gypsum company has shut down, and her husband has just died, leaving the childless Fern alone and with no means of support.  So she purchases a van and converts it into something she can live in while she travels about looking for work.  When asked if she is homeless, she responds with no, she is “houseless”.  

The entire film then focalizes exclusively on Fern as she travels about the western United States in search of odd jobs that she can use for support.  However, Fern is so laid-back and laconic that much of what we learn in the film about vandwellers comes not from Fern, but from the fellow vandwellers that she meets and interacts with.  And as I mentioned, virtually everyone Fern meets is a real-life vandwelling nomad.  Nevertheless, Frances McDormand’s pensive performance as Fern is crucial to the success of the film.  As the film proceeds, we want to know more about what Fern is thinking and feeling.

After Fern heads out on the road from the shutting down town of Empire, she secures a seasonal job at a massive Amazon fulfilment center (warehouse for third-party shipping).  Although the workers don’t appear to be mistreated, the sheer size of the operation makes everyone on the floor like a tiny cog in a gigantic machine.  This is a telling visual metaphor for the impending gig economy and streamlined supply chain that so many ordinary people are now facing.

One of Fern’s coworkers at the warehouse, Linda, convinces her to come to a meet-up for vandwellers in the Arizona desert.  The event is hosted by Bob Wells, a charismatic real-life nomad who seeks to organize cooperative support for his fellow vandwellers.  Although some  vandwellers are middle-class retirees who have embraced this way of life in order to fulfill their love for freedom and the open road, most of these people are like Fern – forced by poverty to live in a van.  At Wells’s meet-ups these people can share tricks and info about how to get by on the road.

Later Fern meets and becomes friends with a congenial elderly woman nomad, Swankie, from whom she learns more about survival under impecunious circumstances on the road.  Swankie also tells her that she, herself, has terminal cancer, but she wants to close out her life on the open road rather than in a hospital.

After the extended encounter with Swankie, Fern is shown working in the Black Hills, South Dakota, where she runs into Dave (David Strathairn, the only other actor in the film with significant professional acting experience), a mild-mannered elderly nomad she had seen earlier in Arizona.  They go on to meet on several further occasions, and Dave politely indicates to Fern that he is interested in having her stay with him in a long-term relationship.  But ultimately Fern resists the temptation and decides to stick to her life of independence on the open road.

There is also an occasion when Fern’s van has a serious breakdown, and she has to go ask her married sister in California for a loan in order to pay for the repairs.  When Fern goes to her sister’s upper-middle class home, we can see the contrast in the two sisters’ lifestyles; and we hope the encounter will shed some light on the taciturn Fern’s background.  But it becomes clear that the sister has always been as much in the dark about Fern’s thoughts and feelings as we viewers are now.  Anyway, the sister does loan the money to Fern, and the van gets fixed.

Fern has further encounters with Bob Wells and other van-dwelling nomads, before eventually returning for one last nostalgic visit to Empire, Nevada, which is by this time almost a ghost town.  Then at the end of the film, she heads back out on the road.

So overall, Nomadland is a bleak, moody film that effectively conveys inescapable feelings of loneliness and a sense of loss.  But there are three connected thematic elements in the film that linger in my mind and warrant further comment:
  • Is the Gig-Economy the Future of Labour?
  • What Role Does Narrative Play in Nomadland?
  • To What Degree is a Self Defined by Narrative?
These are not items really explicitly addressed in Nomadland, but they were tangentially evoked when I watched the film.

1.  Is the Gig-Economy the Future of Labour?

Watching Nomadland made me wonder whether the traditional nature of U.S. socioeconomic society is collapsing (and since the U.S. is at the forefront of social evolution, this applies eventually to everywhere else, too).  With management increasingly centralized and specific jobs increasingly objectified and compartmentalized, the labour environment is more and more moving towards a gig-economy.  For digital workers, this can mean more and more digital nomads – people who can perform their jobs from remote locations and can therefore live anywhere.  But for hands-on gig workers, such as those depicted in Nomadland, it means that anyone looking for work must travel to the site of the job location and secure the gig-job.  In other words, they have to be nomads.

The positive side to all this is that there are likely to be available jobs for itinerants.  But of course the downside is that the jobs are reduced to lowest-common-denominator specifications and are often low-skilled and low-paid.

Chloé Zhao doesn’t take up this general social issue and its ramifications at all in Nomadland.  But what she does show is the lifestyles of the nomads and their various ways of dealing with the inherent loneliness in “nomadland”.

2.  What Role Does Narrative Play in Nomadland?
Almost all films (as well as dramas, stories, and novels) have a narrative that provides a structure for the events depicted.  The metastructure of these narratives is often characterized metaphorically as a journey.  There are one or more protagonists on such a “journey” who are struggling to reach a desired “destination”, and there are usually other agents along the way who assist or stand in the way of progress.  Much has been written about the narrative-as-journey metaphor [8,9,10,11,12], notably the more formalized characterization of it known as the “hero’s journey” [13] that was popularized by Joseph Campbell [14].

In the present context concerning Nomadland, we don’t have to delve into the various narrative characterizations, because in this case, I don’t see that the film even has a narrative.  Although one might at first think Fern is on some sort of journey, neither the destination nor the overall scheme of that journey is ever specified.  We never know what the wandering Fern wants or is thinking.  All we get is a random sequence of scenes depicting haphazard encounters that have no clear outcome – at least no outcome with respect to a given quest.  We never really learn much about what goes on inside Fern’s head or indeed who she is.  But then maybe that is the point.  Fern’s lack of a narrative is what this film is about.

3.  To What Degree is a Self Defined by Narrative?
It is often claimed that we basically model all the people we meet in terms of the narratives we construct about them, and this is how we come to know and understand them [9,10,11].  We even think of ourselves in terms of the narratives constructed by ourselves and others about ourselves.  So is it really true; is that all there is to the self – the narrative that has been constructed to characterize it?  Are you and I just the stories we have constructed about ourselves?  There is dispute on that score.

Some philosophers, usually objectivists, maintain that, yes, that is all there is to the self – the narrative story (or stories) that provides a comprehensible, temporally-oriented scheme of who you are.  They argue further that any idea that there is some inner being constituting the true self is a self-deceptive hallucination.  The only existing selves, they insist, are the fabricated narratives that have long been constructed (since caveman days) to facilitate human interactions extended over time.

But there are other thinkers, both esteemed Western philosophers [15] and respected Eastern sages [16,17], who hold that there are really two essential aspects of the self:
  • an outer, worldly, narrative-based self 
  • an inner self that is founded on core-consciousness
According to this second, more nuanced scheme, it is the inner, core-consciousness-based self that is the true being that identifies who you are.  And this is the self-perspective that I find more natural, and I would guess that Chloé Zhao thinks this way, too.  It usually follows under this scheme that when a person’s inner core-consciousness gets the feeling that its constructed narrative-based self is somehow unfulfilling and leaves it disconnected from meaningful interactions in the world, it then feels alienated.  This sense of alienation can be difficult to articulate, but it lies as a root element of existentialist thinking, and it has been eloquently expressed by such writers as Albert Camus [18] and Jean-Paul Sartre [19], as well as in a number of memorable films [20].  And it is Fern’s alienation that is the artistic key to Nomadland.

As I mentioned, the film Nomadland doesn’t really seem to have its own narrative, and that comes down to the fact that the film’s main character, Fern, doesn’t appear to have a narrative-based self at all.  It’s not just an unsatisfactory narrative-based self, as it often is with some people; here in Fern’s case, it is a virtual narrative void.  She doesn’t appear to have had much meaningful interaction with her family when she was growing up.  And now that her husband has died and she has lost her longtime job and home, there is nothing left of her adult life on which to base her narrative self.  Her life is empty.  And that is what makes the film problematic.  Can a film succeed without being driven by a narrative journey?  In the case of Nomadland, I would say it more or less does succeed.   

Even though I am aligned with the philosophical position that the narrative self is not the most intrinsic aspect of the self, having only a severely diminished narrative-based self, like Fern, would be an existential problem.  And it is Fern’s existential problem that is on display in Nomadland.  We viewers want to know more about what Fern is thinking and feeling in response to her barren circumstances, but her contemplative reticence gives us little to chew on and leaves us wanting more.  Frances McDormand’s subtle, laid-back performance as Fern is crucial here.  We follow her gaze and guess about her feelings all the way, but our fascination persists.  And that is what lies at the heart of Nomadland.

  1. A.O. Scott, “‘Nomadland’ Review: The Unsettled Americans”, The New York Times, (18 February 2021, 26 April 2021).   
  2. Brian Tallerico, “Nomadland”, RogerEbert.com, (19 February 2021).   
  3. Beatrice Loayza, “Nomadland finds beauty on the rugged, ruthless open road”, Sight and Sound, British Film Institute, (28 April 2021).   
  4. MaryAnn Johanson, “Nomadland movie review: ain’t that America”, flick filosopher, (6 May 2021).   
  5. Murtaza Ali Khan, "’Nomadland’ Review: An inspiring tale of survival that presents the modern-day American West in a new light”, A Potpourri of Vestiges,, (4 April 2021).   
  6. Marjorie Baumgarten, “Nomadland”, The Austin Chronicle, (19 February 2021).   
  7. Chris Barsanti, “Review: ‘Nomadland’ Is a Sorrowful Lament for Lives on America’s Fringes", Slant Magazine, (12 September 2020).   
  8. Roger Schank and Gary Saul Morrison, Tell Me a Story: Narrative and Intelligence (Rethinking Theory),  (1990), Northwestern.
  9. Jerome Bruner, "The Narrative Construction of Reality", Critical Inquiry, 18:1, 1-21, (1991).
  10. Jerome Bruner, “The Narrative Construction of Reality”, Narrative Intelligence (2003), Michael Mateas and Phoebe Sengers (eds.), John Benjamin Publishing Co.
  11. Paul Ricoeur, Time and Narrative, vols. I- III, (1983-1985), University of Chicago Press. 
  12. Christopher Vogler, The Writer’s Journey, 2nd Edition, Michael Wiese Productions (1998).
  13. “Hero’s Journey”, Wikipedia, (17 September 2021).     
  14. Joseph Campbell, The Hero with a Thousand Faces, 1st edition, Bollingen Foundation (1949), 2nd edition, Princeton University Press (1990), 3rd edition, New World Library (2008).
  15. Dan Zahavi, "Self and Narrative: the Limits of Narrative Understanding", Narrative  and  Understanding  Persons, D. D. Hutto  (ed),  Royal  Institute  of  Philosophy Supplement 60, Cambridge University Press, pp. 179-201, (9 August 2007).  
  16. Paramahansa Yogananda, God Talks With Arjuna: The Bhagavad Gita, Self-Realization Fellowship, (1 September 2001).  
  17. Ching Hai, I Have Come to Take You Home: A Collection of Quotes and Spiritual Teachings from the Supreme Master Ching Hai, Sophie Lapaire and Pamela Millar (eds.), SMCHIA Publishing Co., (1 January 1995).   
  18. Albert Camus, The Stranger (L'Étranger), Gallimard, (1942).  
  19. Jean-Paul Sartre, Nausea (La Nausée), Éditions Gallimard, (1938).
  20. The Film Sufi, “Existentialism in Film 1", The Film Sufi, (15 July 2008).