The Serpent’s Egg, Ingmar Bergman’s first English-language feature and his first film made outside his home country, bears the master’s stamp right from the beginning in a superior collaboration with cinematographer Sven Nykvist and production designer Rolf Zehetbauer.
The latter has recreated a Berlin of a poverty-ridden, fear-stricken early 1920s that is much more than paint-deep. Also, Bergman makes his actors, with one fatal exception (David Carradime), work their individualities into the grandest of ensemble playing.
The Serpent’s Egg lacks both the strength and depth of Bergman’s major work. By going outwardly international, the master becomes perilously close to becoming shallow as well.