Two estranged sisters, Ester and Anna, and Anna's 10-year-old son travel to the Central European country on the verge of war. Ester becomes seriously ill and the three of them move into a hotel in a small town called Timoka.
In the midst of a civil war, former violinists Jan and Eva Rosenberg, who have a tempestuous marriage, run a farm on a rural island. In spite of their best efforts to escape their homeland, the war impinges on every aspect of their lives.
A young woman, Karin, has recently returned to the family island after spending some time in a mental hospital. On the island with her is her lonely brother and kind, but increasingly desperate husband ('Max von Sydow'). They are joined by Karin's father ('Gunnar Björnstrand'), who is a world-traveling author that is estranged to his children. The film depicts how Karin's grip on reality slowly slips away and how the bonds between the family members are changing in light of this fact.Written by
A Haunting, Somber Movie That Stays With You Long Afterwards
Bergman's haunting, somber feature "Through a Glass Darkly" is the kind of distinctive, sometimes uncomfortable, and carefully-crafted movie that can stick in the minds of its viewers long afterwards. Its combination of images, scenery, characters, and themes provides plenty of things to think about, more than could be assimilated in any one viewing. Bergman is one of the very few film-makers who had the knack for making this kind of feature coherent and memorable at the same time.
The story could hardly be more efficient. The very small cast and the tight scenario place a premium on the writing, acting, and photography. The characters have a good balance of similarities and differences that makes for a wide range of possibilities, and the story makes good use of them. The seaside setting is used nicely, with the beautiful scenery and thematic images both complementing the story. The old shipwreck is skillfully worked into a psychologically harrowing sequence.
The setting is combined with the family relationships, biblical allusions, philosophical questions, and much more, to raise a wide range of interesting and thoughtful questions. Although "Through a Glass Darkly" does not feature the extensive use of unusual imagery found in Bergman features like "The Seventh Seal" or "Persona", or the dream sequence from "Wild Strawberries", in its own way it is also effective.
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