6.7/10
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33 user 41 critic

The Serpent's Egg (1977)

Berlin, 1923. Following the suicide of his brother, American circus acrobat Abel Rosenberg attempts to survive while facing unemployment, depression, alcoholism and the social decay of Germany during the Weimar Republic.

Director:

Ingmar Bergman

Writer:

Ingmar Bergman (a film by)
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Cast

Credited cast:
Liv Ullmann ... Manuela Rosenberg
David Carradine ... Abel Rosenberg
Gert Fröbe ... Inspector Bauer (as Gert Froebe)
Heinz Bennent ... Hans Vergerus
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Toni Berger ... Mr. Rosenberg
Christian Berkel ... Student
Paula Braend Paula Braend ... Mrs. Hemse
Erna Brünell Erna Brünell ... Mrs. Rosenberg (as Erna Bruenell)
Paul Bürks Paul Bürks ... Cabaret Comedian (as Paul Buerks)
Gaby Dohm ... Woman with baby
Emil Feist Emil Feist ... Miser
Kai Fischer ... Prostitute
Georg Hartmann Georg Hartmann ... Hollinger
Edith Heerdegen Edith Heerdegen ... Mrs. Holle
Klaus Hoffmann Klaus Hoffmann ... Commando Announcer
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Storyline

It's early November, 1923. Jewish-American brothers Abel and Max Rosenberg, and Max's ex-wife Manuela Rosenberg had a trapeze act in a circus touring through Europe up until a month ago when a wrist injury to Max sidelined the act. The three remained in Berlin, Germany generally depressed with rampant inflation leading to Abel taking up the bottle to cope. The Jewish are also being blamed for many of society's problems, but Abel fears no reprisal against himself if he does nothing wrong. Abel and Manuela, the latter who ended up living in a rooming house on her own while working in a cabaret, are reunited when Abel has to inform her that Max committed suicide by a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head. Feeling at a loss both professionally with the act no more and emotionally both due to Max's death, Abel and Manuela turn to each other for comfort and support as the only person the other truly has. Abel's life becomes even more complicated when Police Inspector Bauer, who handled ... Written by Huggo

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

Berlin 1923! A dangerous time to be alive and stay that way! See more »


Certificate:

R | See all certifications »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

This picture featured the biggest ever crew assembled for an Ingmar Bergman film at least to the time that this movie was made. See more »

Goofs

The Nazi-looking thugs that are beating up people are wearing Model 1943 German army caps and 1940s style clothing. This film is supposed to take place in the 1920s. See more »

Quotes

Abel Rosenberg: I wake up from a nightmare and find that real life is worse than the dream.
See more »

Connections

Featured in Searching for Ingmar Bergman (2018) See more »

Soundtracks

Das Lied vom süssen Bonbon
(uncredited)
Music by Rolf A. Wilhelm
Lyrics by Rolf A. Wilhelm and Kurt Wilhelm
Performed by Liv Ullmann
See more »

User Reviews

Well done allegory for events leading to the rise of Hitler.
9 June 2009 | by rixrexSee all my reviews

The title, The Serpent's Egg, had me wondering for a moment until I realized that it did not refer to the the Doctor and his bizarre experiments nor to Abel and his misery, but to the encapsulated Germany of the 1920s and the environment that led to Hitler's ascent in the 1930s. That is, Germany being the 'egg', Hitler and the Nazis as the 'Serpent', and the environment as the embryo of the egg.

In many ways, this is a cynical film, in that it attempts to show that degradation, fear and loss of life and livelihood is sometimes stronger than humanity and even love. Isn't this true about Germany in the 1920s, and other nations at other times as well? We only have to look at ourselves after the attacks of 9/11 to see a time when fear overcame reason. Fear allowed us to meekly accept the chipping away of our own civil rights and privacy, and also government sponsored torture.

It also gives us a glimpse at one of Hitler's truisms, which is that if he could have a person at age 7, then that person would be a Nazi for life. The experimenting Doctor re-states this in his observations that the sons and daughters of the defeated German populace will be the ones who create the new German society, of which he already is a part with his inhumane human experiments.

Of course, all this is done with hindsight, so how can it be wrong? It can't, but then it's still a good review of a period in Germany that many Americans know nothing about, and should learn if they want the answers to the question of how Naziism came to be. It wasn't just some sort of aberration never seen in history before nor repeated.


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Frequently Asked Questions

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Details

Country:

West Germany | USA

Language:

English | German

Release Date:

15 February 1978 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The Serpent's Egg See more »

Filming Locations:

Germany See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

DEM12,000,000 (estimated)

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$39,238
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono

Color:

Black and White (science films footage)| Color (Eastmancolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.66 : 1
See full technical specs »

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