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The Human Voice (Broadway Theatre Archive)
The Human Voice
Broadway Theatre Archive
Actors: Lee Grant, Arthur Kennedy, Diahann Carroll, Ingrid Bergman
Director: Ted Kotcheff
Genres: Comedy, Drama, Television, Musicals & Performing Arts
NR     2002     0hr 50min

Ingrid Bergman plays a middle-aged woman going through a psychological crisis as a love affair ends. French playwright Jean Cocteau's one-character drama unfolds in the form of an extended monologue--a one-sided telephone ...  more »


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Movie Details

Actors: Lee Grant, Arthur Kennedy, Diahann Carroll, Ingrid Bergman
Director: Ted Kotcheff
Creators: David Susskind, Hubbell Robinson, Jacqueline Babbin, Lars Schmidt, Clive Exton, Jean Cocteau
Genres: Comedy, Drama, Television, Musicals & Performing Arts
Sub-Genres: Comedy, Drama, Television, Musicals, Broadway Theatre Archive
Studio: Kultur Video
Format: DVD - Color
DVD Release Date: 04/16/2002
Original Release Date: 05/04/1967
Theatrical Release Date: 05/04/1967
Release Year: 2002
Run Time: 0hr 50min
Screens: Color
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 4
MPAA Rating: NR (Not Rated)
Languages: English

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Movie Reviews

A Stunning Representation of a Woman's Emotions
Rebecca Johnson | Washington State | 07/02/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Human Voice is initially unassuming and it takes about 5 minutes or more to fully realize the potential of this painful expose of a woman's emotions. The scenes all take place in one room.

Ingrid Bergman plays a woman in the most painful state she could possibly exist in besides the state in which she is mourning the loss of a child. She has just lost the love of her life and has tried to commit suicide. Fortunately she wakes to find she has survived taking all the pills in her medicine cabinet.

What happens next is rather disturbing really. When a woman feels these emotions, she may happen to glance at herself in the mirror, but more than likely she is in bed crying her eyes out. The honesty is captivating, but painful to observe.

Through a one-sided telephone conversation a woman first tries to hide her feelings and then after numerous attempts to talk to the man she loves and convince him she is handling the break up, she finally breaks down. She experienced devastation, desperation, completely heartache, longings of the soul, everything a woman feels when she has lost the man she thinks she will spend the rest of her life with; it is poetic and tragic.

Ingrid Bergman wanders about in a pink housecoat, clinging to a old-fashioned phone and is stunning in this solo performance. At one point she wraps the phone cord around her neck and says that her lover's words are now around her neck. It is very provocative at times as she plays with ideas in creative ways.

This movie may stir up memories from the past and may cause you to hunt down doughnuts, chocolate or anything comforting. Watching this movie is similar to riding the waves in a storm. The sad part of this movie is that women feel these emotions all too often. The callousness of her lover is especially difficult to take. While we never hear his voice, we hear her reactions. Even when she is expressing her undying affection, he seems angry with her and displays an almost inhuman disregard for her feelings.

This movie might make you angry, it might make you cry and it will definitely leave you with a lasting impression. Human Voice is a true classic and one of the best representations of complete desperation and loss of self-esteem I've ever observed.

~The Rebecca Review"
"I've never had anything to live for but you."
Mary Whipple | New England | 07/16/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Jean Cocteau's landmark "voice play," published in 1947 and produced by Broadway Theatre Archive in 1966, starring Ingrid Bergman, is a bit dated now, a reflection of a society which has changed irrevocably. A middle-aged woman, devastated because her five-year relationship has ended and her lover has moved on, tries to come to grips with her future and largely fails. When her lover calls to offer whatever support he can--and to ask for his belongings by tomorrow--his call becomes her lifeline. "I knew you would give me a ring," she says, with ponderous irony, then adds to herself, "A wring of the neck," or "a boxing ring" from which there is no escape.

The entire play consists the woman talking with her former lover in a series of increasingly fraught phone calls, as the connection keeps getting lost. Though she tells him she is "absolutely calm," she has taken fourteen sleeping pills the previous night, and though she also says "It is all my fault," the viewer sees that the lover has lied to her. Yet he has cared for her, repeatedly calling back to be sure that this increasingly hysterical woman will somehow go on--and that he will be able to pick up his things the next day.

The play contains a number of dramatic effects which are now clichés--the constant ticking of the clock, the frantic smoking of the woman, a basket full of empty pill bottles, the photo of the new, much younger, woman, and especially the telephone itself, which offers the only chance for communication here. The focus is almost completely on the actress at center stage for almost an hour, however, a change of style for Cocteau, whose plays until then contained carefully circumscribed roles.

Obviously, the role calls for an actress of extraordinary ability, like Ingrid Bergman, who, age fifty-one at the time of this play, has the gravitas to make the role come alive. Her instinctive ability to use body language, gesture, and facial expressions conveys her pain so that she is not dependent upon hysterical emoting into the telephone. Bergman leaves no doubt that she is at the point of total breakdown, and even her acting might be considered a bit over-the-top, but this is largely a function of the play itself and of the society, which offered little place for a rejected middle-aged "wife" whose "career" consisted of promoting her lover's happiness. She is an empty shell. What can she do now? n Mary Whipple

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