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
Here's a film which will tweak your sensibilities. The family...yes the family, center of all great and good. An early sixties Swedish family has gathered in an isolated summer vacation spot on the sea to examine itself and its ties. The two male adults are intellectuals of sorts and the female is both the daughter of one and the wife of the other. She is also the sister of her writer/father's adolescent son. Love is at the center of familial relationships and this film makes no bones about it. Yes, love is the tie. It is also the tie between Man and God, or so it would seem to have been told, especially to those in the West and specifically in Sweden: those who have fallen for a Christian message.
We see in "Through a Glass Darkly" a family in strife. A daughter and wife who is just back from an insane asylum; a teenage son who is unsure of himself, most grievously because of the lack of fatherly love; a husband who is part of this family and yet remains apart from the family and a father who has been running away from familial love since the death of his wife, the mother of the son and daughter. He has been running away from loving responsibility under cover of his "art".
What can be made of this strange brew is made well by Bergman, a man who questions the authority of God, the Family and Patriarcy; but who still comes up on the side of love?
Bergman was a complicated man who made complicated movies. He shocked a lot of critics and audiences in the early 60s. Essentially, his cinematic art was a window through which one could vicariously watch Bergman question his faith and the meaning of life and by extension, his audience could participate in this philosophical exercise. Bergman said once:
"My fear of death was to a great degree linked to my religious concepts. Later on, I underwent minor surgery. By mistake I was given too much anesthesia. I felt as if I had disappeared out of reality. Where did the hours go? They flashed in a microsecond.
"Suddenly I realized, that is how it is. That one could be transformed from being to not-being -- it was hard to grasp. But for a person with a constant anxiety about death, now liberating. Yet at the same time it seems a bit sad. You say to yourself that it would have been fun to encounter new experiences once your soul had had a little rest and grown accustomed to being separated from your body. But I don't think that is what happens to you. First you are, then you are not. This I find deeply satisfying. That which had been formerly been so enigmatic and frightening, namely, what might exist beyond this world, does not exist. Everything is of this world. Everything exists and happens inside us, and we flow into and out of one another. It's perfectly fine like that."
What does love mean to those who are obviously imperfect? How can one pursue love when the way is blocked by either madness or fear or lust or all of these forces to one degree or another?
These are questions which Bergman examines in "Through a Glass Darkly". See it.
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