The Serpent's Way

  • 1986
  • Movie
  • NR
  • Drama

Bo Widerberg's emotionally powerful depiction of depressed conditions and sexual exploitation in 19th-century Sweden is a beautiful, evocative film of human resilience and nobility. Ekblad must regularly give herself to her landlord, Skarsgard, in order to pay the rent. He fathers several of her children but does not relieve her poverty, nor does she allow...read more

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Bo Widerberg's emotionally powerful depiction of depressed conditions and sexual exploitation in 19th-century Sweden is a beautiful, evocative film of human resilience and nobility. Ekblad must regularly give herself to her landlord, Skarsgard, in order to pay the rent. He fathers

several of her children but does not relieve her poverty, nor does she allow him to participate emotionally in the family. Ekblad endures her circumstances stoically, never questioning her suffering. It is God's will, and she has little choice. Finding love with a romantic dreamer, Ekblad has a

few moments of respite. The rent is paid and the family happy. But her lover is arrested for thievery, and Ekblad shoulders her burden once again, giving Skarsgard her body but not her soul. Disaster after disaster strikes the family, but Ekblad finds comfort in her Bible and faith in God. When

her son finally strikes back against the landlord, the very earth seems to rebel against this human action. A small earthquake tears the house from its foundations, and the landlord and the family meet a common death.

This is a film of man's ultimate helplessness in God's universe and the strength necessary to endure it. Ekblad and Skarsgard give restrained yet powerful performances. Skarsgard manages to show the vulnerability and pain in this devil of a man. Visual metaphors are beautifully rich, and the

cinematography is powerfully evocative. In an interview after completing the film, Widerberg stated his purpose was to "provide an arena for the training and nurturing of the heart." This he has done and done well. The picture was released in Sweden in 1986 and shown on the US festival circuit in

1987. (Sexual situations, nudity.)

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  • Released: 1986
  • Rating: NR
  • Review: Bo Widerberg's emotionally powerful depiction of depressed conditions and sexual exploitation in 19th-century Sweden is a beautiful, evocative film of human resilience and nobility. Ekblad must regularly give herself to her landlord, Skarsgard, in order to… (more)

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