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
Harriet Anderson's performance is beyond brilliance. She has a very difficult role, but there seems not the hint of acting on her part. It is a role where the character seems to be acting and is having a very rough time. Her performance is transparent and haunting. I saw this film most recently a few years ago (and have seen many movies since then), but i still recall vividly three of her scenes. The photography is magical and while not as praised as Wild Strawberries, Persona or Winter Light ( and a few other Bergman classics), its power and its passion reach inside your soul and dares you to resist living the story and the characters of the film. Also, Max von Sydow is brilliant as usual--he is certainly the most underrated actor of all time--theater, television or cinema. I highly recommend this film and then your viewing t he 1971 Passion of Anna, also with Max v.S. and a performance by Liv Ullmann that rivals Harriet's in Thtorug a Glass Darkly. The theme of Darkly is the human predicament in a world of suffering and illness. How does man survive if he actually "lives" his/her life, rather than just sports through life without any experience of art and the spiritual (good or bad). This film is part of a loose trilogy that includes the magnificent Winter Light and The Silence, though each can be viewed separately with no loss of discovery and enjoyment. When I was in college at UCLA from 1968-75 (under and grad school), Bergman was the rage with many people. He seems to be lost in the mists of time. But if go back and watch his films from the late 50's to the 70's, you will see cinema at its boldest and its greatest. Buy the films or rent them (Netflix has a good collection.). Darkly will shake your world and cause ripples of thought and feelings that move for a long, long time inside your mind, and if your fortunate your soul.. See this film.
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