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Winter Light (1963) More at IMDbPro »Nattvardsgästerna (original title)


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Ingmar Bergman (writer)
View company contact information for Winter Light on IMDbPro.
Release Date:
5 April 1963 (USA) See more »
A small town priest struggles with his faith. Full summary » | Full synopsis »
Plot Keywords:
1 win See more »
Ingmar Bergman: 1918-2007
 (From IMDb News. 30 July 2007)

User Reviews:
Grim, dry, depressing and visually stunning, but Pastor Tomas Ericsson is really hard to relate to See more (65 total) »


  (in credits order) (complete, awaiting verification)

Ingrid Thulin ... Märta Lundberg, Schoolteacher

Gunnar Björnstrand ... Tomas Ericsson, Pastor
Gunnel Lindblom ... Karin Persson

Max von Sydow ... Jonas Persson
Allan Edwall ... Algot Frövik, Sexton
Kolbjörn Knudsen ... Knut Aronsson, Warden
Olof Thunberg ... Fredrik Blom, Organist
Elsa Ebbesen ... Magdalena Ledfors, Widow
rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Lars-Olof Andersson ... Young boy (uncredited)
Eddie Axberg ... Johan Strand, Schoolboy (uncredited)
Tor Borong ... Johan Åkerblom, Homesteader (uncredited)
Lars-Owe Carlberg ... Parish Constable (uncredited)
Ingmari Hjort ... Persson's daughter (uncredited)
Stefan Larsson ... Persson's son (uncredited)
Johan Olafs ... Gentleman with Horse (uncredited)
Bertha Sånnell ... Hanna Appelblad, Baker with Daughter (uncredited)
Christer Öhman ... Young boy (uncredited)

Directed by
Ingmar Bergman 
Writing credits
(in alphabetical order)
Ingmar Bergman  writer

Produced by
Allan Ekelund .... producer
Original Music by
Evald Andersson (uncredited)
Cinematography by
Sven Nykvist 
Film Editing by
Ulla Ryghe 
Production Design by
P.A. Lundgren 
Costume Design by
Makeup Department
Börje Lundh .... makeup artist
Second Unit Director or Assistant Director
Lenn Hjortzberg .... assistant director
Art Department
Karl-Arne Bergman .... props
Sound Department
Evald Andersson .... sound effects
Stig Flodin .... sound
Brian Wikström .... sound
Camera and Electrical Department
Rolf Holmquist .... assistant camera
Gerhard Carlsson .... electrician (uncredited)
Peter Wester .... camera operator (uncredited)
Other crew
Lars-Owe Carlberg .... location manager
Katinka Faragó .... continuity clerk
Crew believed to be complete

Production CompaniesDistributorsOther Companies
  • Aga  sound equipment

Additional Details

Also Known As:
"Nattvardsgästerna" - Sweden (original title)
"The Communicants" - International (English title) (literal title)
See more »
81 min
Aspect Ratio:
1.37 : 1 See more »
Sound Mix:

Did You Know?

A considerable amount of the scenes had to be re-shot due to technical problems with sound and film stock.See more »
Continuity: When Thomas leaves to go to the suicide scene Marta's car is parked nearby. She follows him in her car. They leave the suicide scene in her car and his is never seen again.See more »
Algot Frövik, Sexton:The passion of Christ, his suffering... Wouldn't you say the focus on his suffering is all wrong?
Tomas Ericsson, Pastor:What do you mean?
Algot Frövik, Sexton:This emphasis on physical pain. It couldn't have been all that bad. It may sound presumptuous of me - but in my humble way, I've suffered as much physical pain as Jesus. And his torments were rather brief. Lasting some four hours, I gather? I feel that he was tormented far worse on an other level...
See more »
Movie Connections:
Referenced in Ingmar Bergman on Life and Work (1998) (TV)See more »


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50 out of 78 people found the following review useful.
Grim, dry, depressing and visually stunning, but Pastor Tomas Ericsson is really hard to relate to, 14 December 2005
Author: debblyst from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

In his not-to-be-missed, detailed interviews to Scandinavian filmmakers/critics Jonas Simas, Torsten Manns and Stig Björkman published in France as "Le Cinéma Selon Bergman" (1973) -- inspired by the Hitchcock/Truffaut/Chabrol interviews, and with material selected from over 50 hours of conversations in the span of 5 years -- Bergman reassesses "Winter..." in affectionate but moderately critical terms. He quotes his wife (as of 1962) Käbi Laretei's comment about it: "Yes, Ingmar, it's a masterpiece, but a boring one!" (or "dreary one", according to another translation).

Not that it is really boring, at least not for IB's fans (as myself); and not that it's REALLY a masterpiece. It IS one of his driest, grimmest, most depressing films along with "Shame". As usual, there are magnificent scenes: every one Max Von Sydow is in (what an actor -- with barely a single line to speak he builds a very complex character); Åke Fridell's character, who's got the best lines; the argument between Gunnar Björnstrand and Ingrid Thulin at the cottage. Bergman's and Nykvist's visual conception is riveting: you can FEEL the cold of the bleak Swedish winter. However, there are other scenes that seem to drag longer than necessary (even for Bergman), especially the opening church service, and, yes, the letter scene (which is the source of the great letter scene in "Persona"). But I think the main difficulty with "Winter Light" is that Bergman paints his protagonist (Pastor Tomas Ericsson, played by Björnstrand) mercilessly, making it hard for us to make any connection with the selfish bastard, whether you're religious or not. The question of faith -- that should be the important issue here -- is compromised by the incredible level of egotism of Pastor Ericsson; it's hard to believe that man has ever experienced Christian compassion. Bergman despises him and makes us despise him too; I, for one, couldn't manage to feel the smallest degree of sympathy for the man.

In those interviews, Bergman talks about how difficult shooting "Winter Light" was, with Gunnar Björnstrand ill and detesting his role (no wonder!!) and the influence of Bergman's traumatic religious upbringing (his father was a strict Lutheran pastor), which made it hard for him to convey sympathy for Björnstrand's character. The idea for the film came when a bishop of a small-town church told Bergman of his failure in preventing a fisherman in anguish from committing suicide. Bergman also said that Thulin's character was partly based on his second wife, who had serious eczema in her face and hands.

Christian faith has been the subject of superior films by great filmmakers -- Dreyer, Rossellini, Bresson, Buñuel, Pialat, Melville, Pasolini, and, of course, Bergman himself. With "Winter Light", I found myself thinking a lot about Bresson's masterpiece "Diary of a Country Priest". Both "Winter..." and "Diary..." deal with lonely, depressed Christian clergymen who struggle to come to terms with faith-shattering issues within themselves and the ones around them. Both live in small, bleak, grim villages and cannot find solace in people around them, or give them sound advice. Both strive for an evidence of God — a signal, a word, an inspiration to help comfort people. Both face the peak of their religious crisis in winter time (no wonder!!) and when faced with suicide (the doctor in "Diary", the fisherman in "Winter..."). But the major difference is that Bresson's priest ultimately finds a way to trust his God, while Bergman's pastor is abandoned by his ("God's silence in an empty church"). And, of course, that Bresson's priest is impossible to dislike whereas Bergman's pastor is a s.o.b. Bergman himself had been very impressed by Bresson's movie, which, in my opinion, is superior and "thicker" than "Winter....", although both display some of the most magnificent b&w cinematography the movies have ever shown (and Bergman talks proudly about the great amount of work it took to reach the right lighting for the film).

The second of the so-called "Silence Trilogy" (it was never planned as such, but you know, it was the trilogy fad -- S.Ray, Antonioni etc), "Winter Light" is, IMHO, the least satisfying of the three, overshadowed by the powerful study in schizophrenia and incest with richly elaborated characters of "Through a Glass Darkly" and the incredibly daring, close-up approach of female sexuality, childhood innocence, war threat and terminal sickness of "The Silence". Anyway, "Winter Light" is film by Ingmar Bergman — stratospheres above most mortal filmmakers. My vote: 6 out of 10 (considering it's Bergman!).

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