Through a Glass Darkly

  • Canada Through a Glass Darkly (more)
Drama / Psychological
Sweden, 1961, 89 min

Directed by:

Ingmar Bergman


Ingmar Bergman


Sven Nykvist


Erik Nordgren
(more professions)

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While vacationing on a remote island retreat, a family's already fragile ties are tested when daughter Karin (Harriet Andersson) discovers her father has been using her schizophrenia for his own literary means. As she drifts in and out of lucidity, the father (Gunnar Björnstrand), along with Karin's husband (Max von Sydow) and her younger brother (Lars Passgård) are unable to prevent Karin's harrowing descent into the abyss of mental illness. (official distributor synopsis)


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Reviews (3)


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English Ingmar Bergman simply isn't for everyone, but with each film, he proves how deeply he thought about the world and its people. It's truly a powerful statement about what happens within a person, what a person does, and how a person thinks. However, the film is difficult to get into, which is due to its focus on only a small group of characters and a certain bleakness. ()


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English It reminded me of Fellini's . A heavy, hopeless film that drags on as if someone had cut off both its legs. A suffocating and darkened testimony of the disintegration of personality, the search for God and love for a neighbor, whilst at the same time groped questioning the price of art in the face of a concrete life tragedy. The excellent exteriors of Fårö island (?) add even more authenticity to traditionally captivating acting. Sometimes the film goes so deep that it makes you feel cold, and at other times it gets a little confused in a kind of creative hopelessness… ()



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English I stand firmly behind Bergman and respect his creative ideas – in this case the search for love and divine hope through the mental suffering of a loved one –, but Through a Glass Darkly reminded me all too strikingly of the melancholic films of Michelangelo Antonioni. A brutally tedious pace, lots of existential dialogue, long close-ups of the female protagonist’s face and, most importantly, lots of obligatory thematic filler in the empty space of the simple but unnecessarily bloated story of four characters. Again, I appreciate the mystical formal level and the impressive shadow play, but content-wise I'm disappointed. The plot around severe mental illness looks interesting, but in juxtaposition with the traditionally elusive nature of its characters, rational rather than emotional, it feels somewhat implausible and fake. I wish Ingmar had written a little more relaxed comedies, Smiles of a Summer Night was a lot more appealing. ()

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