Wednesday, January 25, 2012

378. Sasom i en spegel/Through a Glass Darkly (1961)

Running Time: 90 minutes
Directed By:
Ingmar Bergman
Written By: Ingmar Bergman
Main Cast: Harriet Andersson, Gunnar Bjornstrand, Max von Sydow, Lars Passgard
Click here to view the trailer


FINALLY! Finally "Bergman Week" produces something that I get to praise, instead of complain about, as "Through a Glass Darkly" doesn't quite hit a home run, but does hit a nice fly ball into center field.

The film has a cast of four and four only and the main character is Karin (Andersson), whom we learn has just been released from the hospital and later learn that she is being treated for an incurable, mental illness. Her husband is Martin (von Sydow), a doctor himself and a great husband to boot, caring for Karin and wanting nothing but the best for her. Karin's father is David (Bjornstrand), a novelist and a pessimist, who, despite his love for his family, will put his work before their well being. Lastly, there's Minus (Passgard), Karin's brother. The thing Minus wants most of all is attention from his father. We get the sense early on that Minus may be going through some issues of his own, but his troubles are being ignored due to Karin's troubles. In fact, Karin is really the only one who wants the best for Minus, taking an interest in his studies and conversing with him regularly. The film tells of a day in the life of these four family members, as Karin struggles to keep her grip on reality and the rest of the family go through struggles of their own.


"Through a Glass Darkly" is the first part of Bergman's "Trilogy of Faith" and having that knowledge prior to viewing this film, I went into it expecting Bergman to beat me over the head with yet another film, where he artistically expressed his inability to find God. While "Through a Glass Darkly" may have themes of a religious nature, there's much more to it than that and I was able to enjoy it strictly from a character study standpoint. The characters that Ingmar Bergman presents to us here are ripe for the picking, meaning you can really pick them apart and make a lot of assumptions about them based on their actions and words in this ninety minute feature. While we never really get the full details of Karin's illness, it is obviously one of a mental nature, as Harriet Andersson puts on an acting showcase portraying the descent of Karin. Speaking of her illness, I'm no doctor or anything, but are there really mental illness's that are fatal? Also, while I'm proposing questions, what happened in the wrecked ship between Karin and Minus? Did they have sex? I mean, that's what I understood to have happened, but am I way off base? And what about David - was he meant to symbolize Christ in someway? I only say this because there are two poignant moments in the film where this thought could be true. The first is when David goes to get his tobacco and breaks down crying, standing in front of a window with his arms outstretched (ie. Christ on the cross). The second comes with the final words of the film, when David finally has a talk with Minus and Minus, astounded that his father has given him some time, says "Father spoke to me". What did those words mean - "Father spoke to me". Bergman may be an atheist, but it seems like he really wants to believe in something.

I'll keep this short tonight. For the film goer who likes religion with their movies, you can go into this one and probably pick it apart and find a lot of religious pieces. If you're like me and you don't like mixing the two, then there's still PLENTY of reasons to check this one out. Incredible performances, Sven Nykvist's cinematography (you can really tell that this is Nykvist's first feature with Bergman from THE BOOK, as it looks head & shoulders better than the previous Bergman entries), the gripping dialogue, the intense atmosphere and the characters.

RATING: 7/10 Hey, I hope this is the turning point, because I'd really like to leave "Bergman Week" with a positive opinion of Ingmar. Next up: "Winter Light".


January 25, 2012 6:18pm


  1. Good review, sounds like a fairly descent movie. I may need to check this one out!

  2. We may have a meeting on the religion thing here...
    I see this and see confirmation of the non existance of a God by an ateist, you as someone with faith, see an atheist wanting to believe.. coming from two different sides we can both get something from this. that's good...


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