The Serpent's Egg

Synopsis: Ingmar Bergman's The Serpent's Egg follows a week in the life of Abel Rosenberg, an out-of-work American circus acrobat living in poverty-stricken Berlin following Germany's defeat in World War I. When his brother commits suicide, Abel seeks refuge in the apartment of an old acquaintance Professor Veregus. Desperate to make ends meet in the war-ravaged city, Abel takes a job in Veregus' clinic, where he discovers the horrific truth behind the work of the strangely beneficent professor and unlocks the chilling mystery that drove his brother to kill himself.
Director(s): Ingmar Bergman
Production: 20th Century Fox Film Corporation
Rotten Tomatoes:
119 min

The scene is Berlin,

the evening of Saturday,

November 3, 1923.

A pack of cigarettes

costs four billion marks,

and most everyone has lost faith

in both the future and the present.

Mr. Abel?

Your brothers already at home.

This is for both of you.

Thank you, Frau Hemse.

Thank you.

You can sit down.

So, you dont speak German at all?

Damned nuisance.

Frulein Dorst

has her Sunday ruined.

- Whats your name?

- Abel Rosenberg.

Im 35.

I was born in Philadelphia.

My folk come from Riga in Latvia.

My brother Max

and his wife Manuela,

the three of us

came to Berlin a month ago...

No, at the end of September.

Max hurt his wrist,

so we couldnt perform anymore.

We were circus artists.

We had a trapeze act.

The reason

of your brothers suicide?


Unhappy love affair?

Alcoholism? Drugs?

Nervous breakdown?

- Fed up with life generally?

- I dont know.

An unexplainable impulse,

was that it?

Well, it happens.

Did you get in touch with his wife?

I tried to last night

and this morning, but I cant find her.

You didnt live together,

all of you?

Max and Manuela

got divorced two years ago.

After the circus let us go,

Manuela went to work

in a cabaret.

I will go see her there

this afternoon.

They open at 3:
00 on Sundays.

May I see your papers, please?


Youre Jewish?

- Why?

- Nothing.

I was just curious.

You may now go.

Thank you.

What are your plans?

How long will you stay in Berlin?

As you know, there is

great unemployment.

We are not going to take care

of you when your money runs out.

Yes, I know.

Good-bye, Mr. Rosenberg.

Good-bye, Inspector.

Good-bye, Frulein Dorst.


Are you going to have lunch?

So am I. Its on me. Come.

How are things, my dear Abel?

And how are Max and Manuela?

Do you think his wrist

will be better soon?

We all miss you, you know.

The circus needs you.

Youre wondering what Imm doing in Berlin

when the circus is in Amsterdam.

Im looking for new acts, my boy.

Come in, come in.

Nowadays I could get

any damned star I want.

They all know I pay in dollars.

Were playing

to full houses all the time.

I could have twice as big a tent,

and it would still be full.

Look what I read

in the paper this morning.

Ill try to translate it.

Listen to this.

TTerrible times are at hand

wwhen circumcised

anti-Christian Asiatics on all sides

aare lifting their

gory hands to strangle us.

TThe massacre of Christians

bby the Jew Isaskar Zederblum,

alias Mr. Lenin,

wwas enough to make

a Genghis Kahn blush.

AA Jewish terrorist pack,

trained to murder and assault,

iis prowling through the country,

bbutchering honest citizens

and farmers on portable gallows.

WWill you wait until you see

thousands of people

hhanging from lampposts

in your town?

DDo you want to wait

until a Bolshevik commission

sstarts its murderous work

in your town, just as in Russia?

DDo you want to stumble over

the bodies of your women and children?

Existence today

is nothing but dread.

Do you need money?

I can lend you some.


Here are some billions.

Take them. I dont need them.

Why dont you say something, Abel?

I dont believe

in all this political crap.

The Jews are

as stupid as everybody.

If a Jew gets into trouble,

its his own fault.

He gets into trouble

because he acts stupid.

Im not gonna act stupid,

so Imm not gonna get into trouble.

Now you know, Papa Hollinger.

Thanks for the soup...

and the money.

I have to meet Manuela at 4:00.

Take care.

Hello, Abel.

Whats wrong?

When I got home last night,

Max had blown his brains out.

I knew hed do that.

I... tried to keep an eye on him...

but I didnt really think he would...

He had a... sort of joke

these last few weeks.

Do you know what that was?

I would ask him sometimes.

He just said the money was good,

and he told me

to mind my own business.

Theres a letter for you.

His handwriting

is impossible to read.

I cant. Can you?

I cant make out...




poisoning going on.

TTheress poisoning going on??

I didnt see

much of him these weeks.

You lived in the same room.

We had a fight...

...a fistfight...

...over a whore.

I didnt hit him hard.

I was worried about his bad wrist.

Christ, finale!

Im not ready. Please help me.

- I didnt know you performed.

- Neither did I.

One of the girls got influenza and I said,

WWhy cantt I take her number?

Take care of Maxs money.

Theress nowhere to hide it here.

Its funny seeing everything

from the side like this.

I seem to recognize you.

Did we smoke

our first cigarette together?


But if I say Amalfi,

a summer day 26 years ago...

Our parents had cottages

next door to each other.

You had an older sister called...

let me see...

Rebecca. Right?

Do you mind letting me by?

Im in a hurry.

Why, of course... Abel Rosenberg.

So... get off the chair

and get your wet jacket off.

And Ill make you some real tea,

nice and hot.

Thatll do you good.

Its only the man

that changes the toilet cans.

He comes every

Monday morning around 4:00.

Oh, God.

We used to spend

the summers in Amalfi.

And Mama had trouble

with her lungs.

Max and I used to play

with a boy named Hans Vergerus.

His folks came from Dsseldorf.

The father was

some kind of big shot,

a Supreme Court Justice

or something.

Mama didnt like Hans.

I guess no one did.

But everyone thought

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Ingmar Bergman

Ernst Ingmar Bergman (Swedish pronunciation: [ˈɪŋmar ˈbærjman] ( listen); 14 July 1918 – 30 July 2007) was a Swedish director, writer, and producer who worked in film, television, theatre and radio. Considered to be among the most accomplished and influential filmmakers of all time, Bergman's renowned works include Smiles of a Summer Night (1955), The Seventh Seal (1957), Wild Strawberries (1957), The Silence (1963), Persona (1966), Cries and Whispers (1972), Scenes from a Marriage (1973), and Fanny and Alexander (1982). Bergman directed over sixty films and documentaries for cinematic release and for television, most of which he also wrote. He also directed over 170 plays. From 1953, he forged a powerful creative partnership with his full-time cinematographer Sven Nykvist. Among his company of actors were Harriet and Bibi Andersson, Liv Ullmann, Gunnar Björnstrand, Erland Josephson, Ingrid Thulin and Max von Sydow. Most of his films were set in Sweden, and numerous films from Through a Glass Darkly (1961) onward were filmed on the island of Fårö. His work often deals with death, illness, faith, betrayal, bleakness and insanity. Philip French referred to Bergman as "one of the greatest artists of the 20th century [...] he found in literature and the performing arts a way of both recreating and questioning the human condition." Mick LaSalle argued, "Like Virginia Woolf and James Joyce in literature, Ingmar Bergman strove to capture and illuminate the mystery, ecstasy and fullness of life, by concentrating on individual consciousness and essential moments." more…

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Submitted on August 05, 2018

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