I. Bergman: “Fängelse”- (1949)

December 12, 2010 at 11:07 am (Random thoughts)

If there were a hell, what would it look like? Would it have monsters prone to hurt everyone standing in their way? Would it be founded on competition and segregation? Would there be an invisible fire fed by loneliness and godlessness, to burn our guilty conscience? Would people waste their energy in the pursuit of something over which they have no control? Would they deliberately mine for petrol through the pitch? Would it look like the world that we live in, as the Maths professor was suggesting in the beginning of the film? A world governed by greed, violence and lack of probity: Brigitta Carolina “works” as a prostitute, even though we can figure out that she’s far more intelligent than the normal requirements for this job. Then why is she doing that? The answer : she’s persuaded to do that by her own fiancé, a man for whom the purpose justifies the means to such an extent that he’s capable of participating in the killing of his own new born child because he sees in this child a menace for his financial situation. (The only income of this ‘family’ was ensured by Brigitta Carolina’s job). And as if this weren’t enough, the person committing this murder is actually Brigitta’s sister; she compares the act of killing a newborn to that of drowning a kitten. Moreover, Brigitta Carolina eventually gives her consent for this murder.  What can possibly be worse than that?

Do you think that Brigitta Carolina is a martyr? Some might be inclined to believe that she is enduring those cruelties in the name of love but she’s actually wandering hopelessly, crumbled and wept away, knowing that this world has nothing left to offer her. This explains her choice to return to her old life and home (her ex-fiancé and the woman who killed her baby), although she loved Thomas and the feeling was mutual. Can a martyr be a martyr without hoping?

The film is not a cliffhanger; in fact it has a predictable end: Brigitta Carolina’s spiritual cancer finally kills her, in the climax of the atonement for her sins.

One last point: what would Freud or Jung say about Brigitta Carolina’s dream? 😉

 

To the memory of Brigitta Carolina:

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