Blu-Ray Review: The Serpent’s Egg

Although his star has been on the wane over the past couple of decades, Ingmar Bergman is without doubt one of the most important film-makers who has ever lived. The late Swede’s fall from grace is probably due more to incessant relationships with his actresses than any diminishing of his films. That said, it’s true that his style of film-making is not currently in vogue. However, It’s hard to dispute his back catalogue.

Bergman will forever be known for such classics as The Virgin Spring, Wild Strawberries, The Seventh Seal, Through a Glass Darkly and Cries and Whispers. However, in a career which spanned almost forty films there are many which are barely known outside of cinephile circles. Released in 1977, The Serpent’s Egg was his only English-language film. It’s a very strange, often baffling, affair.

Abel Rosenberg (David Carradine) is an alcoholic unemployed American Jew who is drowning under the stifling pressure of living in post-war Berlin. The circus performer has to contend with the chaos, poverty and rising anti-semitism of the Weimar Republic. One day, he arrives home to find his brother has committed suicide. Wracked with guilt, Abel tracks down his estranged sister-in-law (Liv Ullmann) to break the bad news, but can’t halt the downward spiral.

The Serpent’s Egg contains many of Bergman’s usual themes, traits and peculiarities but at times it feels like someone else trying to imitate his style. Even by his standards, this is one depressing film. It’s also frustratingly abstruse as it seems hellbent on tormenting its protagonist. However, it would be folly to simply write-off The Serpent’s Egg. There are moments of genius and profound insights when you scratch below the surface. It takes some work though.


  • High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) presentation
  • Original English mono audio (uncompressed LPCM)
  • Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard-of-hearing
  • Audio Commentary by actor David Carradine
  • Bergman’s Egg – a newly filmed appreciation by critic and author Barry Forshaw
  • Away From Home, archival featurette including interviews with David Carradine and Liv Ullman
  • German Expressionism, archival interview with Author Marc Gervais
  • Stills gallery
  • Theatrical trailer
  • Reversible sleeve featuring two artwork choices

FIRST PRESSING ONLY: Illustrated collector’s booklet featuring new writing on the film by author Geoffrey Macnab

The Serpent’s Egg is released on Blu-ray by Arrow Academy on 3 December.

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