Close Up

18 December 2018: Through a Glass Darkly


Through a Glass Darkly
Ingmar Bergman
1961 | 91 min | B/W | Digital
Swedish with English subtitles

“The nearly unbroken daylight of the Swedish summer is exploited to haunting effect in Through a Glass Darkly, a family drama staged in a purgatorial overcast. Inaugurating Bergman’s Faith Trilogy, the film dives into the complex relationships among a schizophrenic woman, Karin (Harriet Andersson, in her signature performance for the director), her ineffectual husband (Max von Sydow), emotionally barren father (Gunnar Björnstrand), and newly pubescent brother (Lars Passgard), all of whom convene for a summer vacation at a ramshackle cottage on a rocky coastline. No one can comprehend or adequately deal with Karin’s disease, and so in spite of their efforts to enjoy their time together, matters quickly turn for the worse, with Karin’s anxious episodes stirring the latent discomforts and resentments of her company. In this spare chamber piece, shot in a gloomy chiaroscuro style that evokes Carl Theodor Dreyer and set to snatches of Bach at his most desolate, Bergman confronts issues of mental illness, incest and the silence of a possibly malignant God with a clarity and bluntness then unprecedented in his career, finding in the film’s compressed timeline and confined location a form with which to combat a consuming period of depression.” – Harvard Film Archive

Part of our season on Ingmar Bergman