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Grief-stricken by the death of her elderly mother, Karin Vergerus visits the body at the hospital where, overcome with emotion, she seeks refuge in the cloakroom only to be accidentally interrupted by David Kovac retrieving his coat. Some weeks later, Karin's husband Andreas, a physician, invites David to dinner after having become friendly with him while treating him as a patient. David, an archaeologist, explains that he is in Sweden working on a dig at a nearby church where they have unearthed a rare wooden figure of the Madonna. After the Vergerus children, Maria and Anders, retire and Andreas takes a business telephone call, David abruptly asks Karin if her fifteen-year marriage is happy. When Karin confirms that she and Andreas are happy, David reveals that he fell in love with her the day he first saw her in the hospital. Although disconcerted by David's revelation, Karin is stirred and a few days later impulsively visits the church where he is working. Later, Karin resists David's plea to meet the next day, insisting she has duties at home and will see him the following week. The next day, however, Karin anxiously changes clothes numerous times, then meets David at his drab flat, which is composed of the loaned rooms of a university professor on leave. The couple chat nervously and while getting into bed with David, Karin admits that she is 34 years old and has never had an affair, and this decision is very significant for her. Karin also assures David that he should not concern himself with her pleasure, but when he proves too tense to have sex, Karin is relieved. A day later, Karin telephones David, who admits that he has been distraught, worrying that she would not see him again. When David expresses frustration with Karin's family obligations, she maintains that she cannot drop everything to see him, but then rushes immediately to David's flat, where he startles her by demanding that she not look at him while they have rough sex. Later, Karin lies to Andreas for the first time about her activities. After being unable to reach David by phone over the next few days, Karin visits the church again and David reveals that the depth of his emotions for her frightens him. At his flat that afternoon, David shows Karin a family photo album, relating that he was born in Berlin where his father and many members of his family died in the Holocaust before his mother fled to America with David and his sister. He adds that he was educated in Israel and now lives in London where he teaches part-time at a university. Over the next few weeks, although Andreas begins to suspect that Karin is having an affair, he does not confront her, even after she leaves a party at their home to go to David. Angered that Karin has another life in which he has no part, David demands they call off their relationship, but Karin tells him it is not a simple thing to do and, after an emotional scene, the couple reconciles. As the affair continues over several months, Andreas' suspicions remain, but he says nothing to his wife. Meanwhile, David reveals that he must return to London for six months to resume his teaching post. Upset by the upcoming parting, Karin nevertheless vows to write David every day. Over the next several months, Karin and David correspond regularly while Karin continues her domestic life with Andreas and the children. When David returns to Sweden, he contacts Karin who, although happy to hear from him, insists that she cannot drop everything to see him. When David complains, however, Karin rushes to meet him and the couple continues their affair. One evening, Andreas visits David, unaware that his wife is in the next room. Andreas reveals that he has received numerous anonymous letters detailing Karin's affair with David. When David points out that Andreas should consider Karin's devotion to him and the children and suggests that Andreas leave, the doctor admits he always liked David since treating him for a suicide attempt. Karin is startled to hear this information while David petulantly says they were never to discuss it. Andreas admits it was foolish to confront David but promises not to pressure Karin into any decisions. Later that night at home, Karin is distressed, but cannot acknowledge the affair and cries while Andreas comforts her. A couple of days later, Karin meets David at the church where the excavation continues. David relates that they have discovered that the wooden Madonna is infested with a rare form of insect that is destroying the statue from the inside and they are unsure if it can be saved. Although Karin confesses feeling insecure and unsure for the first time in her life, David remains unsympathetic. Karin acknowledges David's selfish, demanding nature, then admits she is certain that he will leave her one day because he is self-loathing and hates her for loving him. Outside of the church David asks Karin to forgive him, insisting that they should live in the moment. The next day when she is unable to reach David by phone, Karin goes to his flat to find that David has moved out, leaving photos of her discarded in the trashcan. At Andreas' office Karin confesses that she must go to London to find David, but Andreas informs her that if she goes, she need not return. Karin pleads for Andreas to be fair, but he declares that it is time she made a decision and took responsibility for the consequence of her actions. In London, Karin goes to David's address but finds a woman in his partially empty apartment. When the woman identifies herself as David's sister Sara, Karin is surprised, believing all of David's family dead. Sara admits she and David are moving, then shrewdly asks Karin if she is pregnant. When Karin acknowledges that she is, Sara asks her why, then informs Karin that both she and David suffer from an inherited illness that paralyzes the muscles. When Karin remains silent, Sara insists that the siblings are inseparable and that David will never leave her. Karin returns to Sweden and moves into a hotel. Some months later, David returns to the Swedish church dig, but Karin refuses to take his calls. Finally, confronting David at a greenhouse, Karin declares that they have nothing to say to each other and rejects David's marriage proposal. Swearing that he cannot live without her, David tells Karin he will do whatever she wants and although admitting that she still loves him, Karin claims it is her duty to remain alone. David angrily accuses Karin of lying and seeking refuge in empty convention, then rushes away.
Cast & Crew
|MPAA Ratings:||R||Premiere Info:||Berlin Film Festival screening: 26 Jun 1971; New York opening: 14 Jul 1971|
|Release Date:||1971||Production Date:||
An Ingmar Bergman Film
|Color/B&W:||Color (Eastmancolor)||Distributions Co:||Cinerama Releasing Corp.|
|Sound:||Mono||Production Co:||ABC Pictures Corp., Cinematograph A.B.|
|Duration(mins):||112-113||Country:||Sweden and United States|
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Interesting portrait of a trysting woman
bergman contrarian 2017-08-08
The Touch is a film about a marriage, an affair, and a woman's agonizing decisions. Central to whatever interest Bergman's disavowed project...
variations on a familiar theme
The Touch is yet another variation on a tried-and-true storytelling convention, the "love triangle" tale which can be bawdy or tragicomic or...
variation on a familiar theme
The Touch is yet another variation on the tried-and-true "love triangle" story whose plot devices can be bawdy or tragicomic or moralistic. The...