The Serpent's Egg

The Serpent's Egg

DVD - 2004
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An American trapeze act comes to pre-World War II Germany; two of the members are trapped inside Berlin after the other commits suicide. They find work with Dr. Vergerus at St. Ana's clinic, and soon discover that all is not what it appears to be.
Alternative Title: Schlangenei [videorecording]
Publisher: Santa Monica, Calif. : MGM Home Entertainment, [2004]
Edition: Special ed.
ISBN: 9780792859604
Branch Call Number: Fic
Characteristics: 1 videodisc (119 min.) : sd., col. ; 4 3/4 in.


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Aug 26, 2015

'go to hell'... laughter... 'where do you think we are?'

bleak, hellish. Carradine wears his Kung Fu face, rarely seeming to be in touch with the role he is playing.

quite un-Bergman-ish. but in the special features Ullmann and author Marc Gervais provide alternate frameworks for evaluating this Bergman film. I liked it better after looking through those lenses.

Feb 04, 2015

Bergman’s overblown period piece proves that bigger budgets don’t always translate into better films, even in the hands of a master. In 1920’s Berlin an unemployed, alcoholic Jewish-American trapeze artist (oh Ingmar...please!) moves in with his former sister-in-law after his brother commits suicide for no apparent reason. Life isn’t easy for Abel and Manuela; jobs are scarce, food is a luxury item, and a young upstart named Adolph Hitler is busy sowing seeds of discontent. Abel steadfastly refuses to acknowledge the rising tide of German xenophobia and anti-semitism, choosing instead to numb himself in a haze of alcohol and look the other way; he even vandalizes a Jewish storefront for good measure. But as times become more desperate reality begins to encroach upon his progressively fragile mind; his friends and acquaintances are ending up in the morgue, the police seem to be shadowing his every move, and throughout it all he is bothered by the sound of distant machinery that no one else can hear. When the inevitable breakdown comes, involving mad scientists and heinous conspiracies, we are no longer sure what is real...nor do we very much care. To be fair, Bergman does offer up some striking scenes which heighten the film’s sense of spiritual despair; a funeral procession wends its way through rush hour traffic, a political rally is held outside a cemetery, and a verdigris-encrusted angel stares helplessly at Abel as he is interrogated by police. Furthermore, garish burlesque shows highlight a society sliding into chaos and add an air of dark irony. But the acting is hopelessly uneven and the script rife with histrionic non-sequiturs. Even viewed as a completely subjective psychodrama Serpent’s Egg is little more than a paranoid cabaret.


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