Do you wear glasses? Find the
best selection of
designer glasses online. Whether you want to buy glasses
frames or you are interested in
sunglasses, sign online today
for all of your glasses needs. We have the best selection of eye
glasses on the internet!
THROUGH A GLASS DARKLY
The Ingmar Bergman Trilogy
Review by Michael Jacobson
Harriet Andersson, Gunnar Bjornstrand, Max von Sydow, Lars Passgard
Director: Ingmar Bergman
Audio: Dolby Digital Mono
Video: Full Frame 1.33:1
Features: American Trailer, Film Exploration
Length: 89 Minutes
Release Date: August 19, 2003
so horrible to see your own confusion and understand it.”
earning worldwide fame for films with at least one foot solidly in fantasy like The
Seventh Seal and Wild Strawberries, the great Ingmar Bergman turned
his attention toward the looming question of faith in a trilogy of films.
Perhaps because of his own skepticism to the notion of God, the elements
of fantasy had to be scaled back. In
Through a Glass Darkly, there are fantastic images afoot that we never
see…they’re all in the mind of a mentally ill young woman.
some ways, I see the character of Karin (Andersson) as a fleshed out version of
the girl in The Seventh Seal who claimed to have seen and spoken with the
devil. As she was sent to the stake
in that picture, her horror at realizing nothing was actually out there (the
squire Jons’ interpretation) is evident and unsettling.
Karin goes through her experience of waiting for the arrival of God.
And just before she departs the scene in her own way, expresses the
disillusionment of again finding nothing there.
a Glass Darkly is something of a chamber play, and its style has influenced modern
directors like Woody Allen in September and Robert Redford in Ordinary
People. For a film questioning
no less than the very meaning of our existence, Bergman instinctively decided to
restrict rather than expand his canvas. He
chose one simple setting of an island vacation home, and brings four people and
four people alone into the drama.
is the patriarch David (Bjornstrand), a writer and Karin’s father.
He loves his daughter and his heart breaks to see her deteriorating and
her incurable condition, but at the same time, he can’t resist observing it
from a writer’s point of view as a subject for a new text.
other child is Minus (Passgard), a tall, awkward adolescent who make strange
comments early on about his sister’s touching and hugging and sunbathing half
nude, leading us to believe that something out of the ordinary is developing
Karin’s husband is Martin (von Sydow), a man of science and dutiful partner to
Karin who seems more and more quietly despaired by his inability to help her.
He shares a modest but potently revealing scene alone with David, where
he confronts her father with his journal on Karin, and David in turn questions
him about whether he’s actually wishing Karin would just pass away…not for
her sake, but for his own.
is, of course, the central figure in the drama. Though reviewers have called her a schizophrenic, I don’t
recall that the movie ever did. I
don’t know enough about mental illness to make my own diagnosis, but it seemed
that for much of the time she was clear in thought and emotion.
Her sickness was manifested in the fact that she claimed to hear voices
coming from a crack in the wallpaper in the attic.
Sometimes these voices would beckon her to that top room, where she would
succumb and later tell of visions of people preparing and waiting for the
appearance of God.
enough, Bergman doesn’t necessarily take the side of the three men in his
movie. Is Karin really ill?
Or is she just a fragile woman who just MIGHT be seeing something that
David, Martin and Minus are too hardened or too blind to see?
I can’t pretend to have an answer to that.
But I do find that keeping an open mind is what makes the picture very
final departure, which could be deemed as a complete breakdown or maybe just the
lifelessness of disappointment in what her visions finally revealed, seems to
leave a curious void behind. In the
final scene, Minus talks with David about the nature of God.
David unconvincingly gives the standard issue “God is love” answer,
which resolves nothing…one can either take it as a sign of hope or despair.
sense of restraint is usually effective, but even at 89 minutes, the picture has
stretches where it seems painfully slow. The
writer/director seemed to whittle his story and drama down to its essentials at
first and then possibly had to fill a few spaces as a result.
Still, his final offering is a thoughtful, beautifully photographed first
step toward the inevitable question of faith and existence, and his cast is
exemplary, particularly the riveting, heartbreaking performance of Harriet
Andersson as Karin.
film went on to garner him international acclaim and an Oscar for Best Foreign
Language film. And it opened up his
subject matter for further exploration in his subsequent two pictures, Winter
Light and The Silence. Many
regard Through a Glass Darkly as one of Bergman’s very best.
I can’t quite say that myself, considering the magnitude of some of the
director’s truly greatest offerings, but I can say that it does stand alone in
his body of work as an important and singular achievement, and one that no
student of cinema should miss.
triumph for Criterion, and more proof that no company but them should be
touching Bergman’s films. The
black and white photography, while not as expressive as some of his earlier
works, is still beautiful, lush and distinctive, and this DVD captures every
shade, hue and nuance with style and integrity
The print itself is remarkably clean, while the contrast levels are sharp
and consistent in all lighting environments.
The detail is impressive, from the interiors to the ripples on the water.
Only a very occasional spot or mark gives away the movie’s age.
A commendable effort.
is a better than average mono track; clean for its age and boasting some dynamic
range during the more emotionally intense scenes, not to mention a fair amount
of bottom end from the Bach cello music, delivered without a subwoofer channel.
There is also an English-dubbed track, which is a little more flatter and
compressed sounding; dock one star if that’s the track you select.
disc features the American release trailer, which is actually a scream for
people who have seen the film! All
that’s missing is the heavy voiced narrator saying “In a world where…”.
There is also a Film Exploration segment with historian Peter Cowie, a
Criterion regular, who discusses the movie in more detail and also offers an
overview for the whole trilogy.