Hour of the Wolf  

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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

Vargtimmen (Hour of the Wolf) is a Swedish film from 1968. It is Ingmar Bergman's only horror film.


Hour of the Wolf originated from a manuscript with the working title "The Maneaters". Bergman started working on it in the spring of 1965, during which time he suffered a minor nervous breakdown. In the end, the manuscript resulted in not one but two movies, Persona and Hour of the Wolf. Together with the former movie, Hour of the Wolf is probably one of Bergman's most personal films, though he deals with himself in one way or another in almost all of his movies. It is filmed as if it is a true story about an artist who has disappeared. The story of the artist and his life just before his vanishing is based on interviews with his wife, and on his diaries.

Johan Borg (von Sydow) is a painter who is haunted by what seem to be demons. He tells only his wife Alma (Ullman) about them, and the fear makes him unable to sleep. He and Alma stay up during parts of the night, especially "The Hour of the Wolf", during which, it is said, most people are either born or die. In other scenes, we are shown examples of Borg's bizarre behaviour, which lead us to question his sanity. We are given no clear answers, however.

Borg has given names to some of his demons, like "the birdman" or "the lady with the hat". During the film, he is also approached by a baron, von Merkens (Josephson), who lives at a castle nearby. The painter and his wife Alma visit them and their strange household. But are they real or not?

As he has done in previous movies, Bergman once more discusses the role of the artist and the problems he faces. Hour of the Wolf is a rather demanding film, though not as demanding as the highly modernist Persona.

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Hour of the Wolf" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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