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A vaguely rebellious teenager (Kjellin), bullied by his sadistic Latin master (Järrel), falls for a young prostitute (Zetterling) who tells him she is being persecuted by a sinister man; when the boy finds her dead, he also discovers the teacher hiding in the room... As scripted by Ingmar Bergman (it was his first filmed scenario), Sjöberg's film is a relentlessly cruel study in sadomasochistic relationships, structured as a bleak, sordid thriller. Full of superb expressionist shots which serve to highlight the intensity of the film's highly emotional subject matter, it also benefits from the excellent performances of Järrel and the young Mai Zetterling. Interestingly, Järrel was made up to resemble Himmler, prompting interpretations of the film as an allegory on Fascism; more crucially, however, its harsh pessimism anticipates the spiritually tormented universe of Bergman's own work.

Release details

Duration: 101 mins

Cast and crew

Director: Alf Sjöberg
Screenwriter: Ingmar Bergman
Cast: Stig Järrel
Mai Zetterling
Alf Kjellin
Olof Winnerstrand
Stig Olin
Jan Molander
Gunnar Björnstrand
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