When life is too hard it can make you do desperate things. Through kitchen window you see this ox.
You are starving. Your wife is starving. Your baby might die. There is no social security. This is Sweden in 1867. The winter is as terrible as a terrible winter can be
So, in a moment of madness, you do this.
Take up a sledgehammer and slam it into the ox’s head. That ox was not yours (the solo-motion killing of the ox is horribly but brilliantly filmed)
Its a sin – against God. It’s breaking the law. Its a betrayal of fellow feeling and neighbourly trust. You have wronged the very people you’re joined together to.
Things are only going to go one way from here. You will be found out and you will be punished. You will be sentenced to a life sentence of hard labour and given 40 lashes. Your wife will be left behind to fend for herself and the baby, alone. To survive she will give a strange man her body because he brings food and you (and baby) are starving (almost to death)
But eventually, all with be alright in the end. You will have been pardoned and released. You will give your wife the forgiveness that your neighbour forgave you. You will go on to have 8 kids and become a big happy family after all.
And so endeth the Parable of the Ox. We have all been chastened, but well instructed. We will never smack, steal, slaughter, or eat ox again. Not even if it was given to us. On a plate. Or boiled in bowl. From now on Ox is a no no (not even with Oxo, bu-bum)
I liked this film. I like it when people are starving and having a hard time. I like it when its winter and all you’ve got to look forward to is a little bit of brown broth. It makes me feel all warm and safe inside knowing that other worlds and other times and other people have suffered so much so that i don’t have to (suffer so much) My suffering is a doddle really.
All the usual top Swedes are in this film: Max von Sydow, Liv Ullmann, Erland Josephson, Lennart Hjulström, Stellan Skarsgård – and Sven Nykvist directing. They all do impeccable jobs.
Dir: Sven Nykvist, Sweden