Winter Light (1963)
"Nattvardsgästerna" (original title)

Not Rated  |   |  Drama  |  5 April 1963 (USA)
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A small town priest struggles with his faith.



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Complete credited cast:
Gunnel Lindblom ...
Algot Frövik, Sexton
Kolbjörn Knudsen ...
Knut Aronsson, Warden
Olof Thunberg ...
Fredrik Blom, Organist
Elsa Ebbesen ...
Magdalena Ledfors, Widow


On a cold winter's Sunday, the pastor of a small rural church (Tomas Ericsson) performs service for a tiny congregation; though he is suffering from a cold and a severe crisis of faith. After the service, he attempts to console a fisherman (Jonas Persson) who is tormented by anxiety, but Tomas can only speak about his own troubled relationship with God. A school teacher (Maerta Lundberg) offers Tomas her love as consolation for his loss of faith. But Tomas resists her love as desperately as she offers it to him. This is the second in Bergman's trilogy of films dealing with man's relationship with God. Written by <>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

faith | pastor | winter | priest | suicide | See All (9) »




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Release Date:

5 April 1963 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Les communiants  »

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Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?


When she saw the completed film, Ingmar Bergman's then wife Kabi Laretei said, "Yes, Ingmar, it's a masterpiece. But it's a dreary masterpiece." See more »


When Tomas leaves the church to go to the scene of the suicide there is a lot of snow on his car and on the ground. But, when he arrives at the scene, the car is clean and there is no sign of snow on the ground. See more »


Märta Lundberg, Schoolteacher: God, why have you created me so eternally dissatisfied? So frightened, so bitter? Why must I realize how wretched I am? Why must I suffer so hellishly for my insignificance? If there is a purpose to my suffering, then tell me, so I can bear my pain without complaint. I'm strong. You made me so very strong in both body and soul, but you never give me a task worthy of my strength. Give my life meaning, and I'll be your obedient slave.
See more »


Featured in The Story of Film: An Odyssey: European New Wave (2011) See more »

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User Reviews

"God, my God! Why hast thou forsaken me?"
26 April 2005 | by (Nis, Serbia) – See all my reviews

"I think I have made just one picture that I really like, and that is Winter Light…Everything is exactly as I wanted to have it, in every second of this picture." – Ingmar Bergman

"Winter Light" concentrates around the middle-aged priest named Thomas (extraordinarilly played by Gunnar Björnstrand) of a small Swedish church and his spiritual and emotional struggles during the one winter afternoon.

Tomas founds himself as a non-believer. He realized that he actually became a priest because he was weak, anxious and neurotic and not because of his faith. As a young man, not knowing the REAL world and its TRUE nature, Tomas became a priest. His wife was everything to him, yes. She encouraged his "believes". With her, his believes (or self-deceptions) were stable, steady. After her death, they were shaken (so were his whole life and its purposes) because he encountered the "real world".

After his wife's death he met Marta, schoolteacher – simple and realistic woman (played by brilliant Ingrid Thulin). Marta is in love with him. But he is bored with her and avoids her. Reasons for that are not very clear to the viewer or Tomas himself. He feels isolated and detached from the rest of the world. All the meanings and purposes of his life suddenly disappeared. Whole his life was one big – LIE.

So, why is he avoiding Marta? She is the real representation of the ''real world'' since being an atheist. Marta is the symbol of his failure, she ''reminds'' him that he dedicated whole his life to – nothing.

This is not, however, a religious film. It's a lot more exploring the real human nature and its possible ''faults''. It raises some universal issues like: ''Am I doing good things because I am a good person (because I have a good character) or because I am afraid of the consequences (because I am weak, fearful)''?

"Winter Light" is also masterfully crafted movie with formal elements absolutely supporting (and adding to) the issues of the script. It is a very cold movie with no music (intentionally). Sven Nykvist, Bergman's cinematographer did excellent job with his contrasted black and white photography, focuses and mise-en-scene conjuring up the emotional isolation and distances between the characters.

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