Through a Glass Darkly (film)
|Through a Glass Darkly|
The original Swedish poster
|Directed by||Ingmar Bergman|
|Produced by||Allan Ekelund|
|Written by||Ingmar Bergman|
Max von Sydow
|Music by||Erik Nordgren
Johann Sebastian Bach
|Editing by||Ulla Ryghe|
|Distributed by||Janus Films|
|Running time||89 minutes|
Through a Glass Darkly (Swedish: Såsom i en spegel) is a 1961 Swedish film written and directed by Ingmar Bergman, and produced by Allan Ekelund. The film is a three-act "chamber film", in which four family members act as mirrors for each other. It is the first of many Bergman films to be shot on the island of Fårö. Fårö is part of Gotland, the largest island in Sweden.
The title is from a biblical passage (1 Corinthians 13) in which seeing through a glass darkly refers to our understanding of God when we are alive; the view will only be clear when we die. The Swedish title literally means As in a Mirror, which is how the passage reads in a 1917 Swedish translation of the Bible.
Bergman described Through a Glass Darkly as a “chamber film,” an allusion both to the chamber plays of Strindberg (Bergman's favorite playwright), and to chamber music in general. In line with the “chamber” theme, the film takes place in a single 24-hour period, features only four characters and takes place entirely on an island.
The story takes place during a twenty-four hour period while four family members take their vacation on a remote island, shortly after one of them, Karin (Harriet Andersson), who suffers from schizophrenia, was released from an asylum. Karin's husband Martin (Max von Sydow) tells her father, David, that Karin's disease is almost incurable. Meanwhile, Minus (Lars Passgård), Karin's 17-year-old brother, tells Karin that he wishes he could have a real conversation with his father, and cries because he feels deprived of his father's affection. David (Gunnar Björnstrand) is a novelist suffering from a "writer's block" who has just returned from a long trip abroad. He announces he will leave again in a month, though he promised he would stay. The others are upset, and David gives them unthoughtful, last-minute presents. He leaves them and sobs alone for a moment. When he returns, the others cheerfully announce that they too have a "surprise" for David; they perform a play for him that Minus has written. David takes offense (although approving on the outside) at the play, which can be interpreted as an attack on his character.
That night, after rejecting Martin’s erotic overtures, Karin wakes up and follows the sound of a foghorn to the attic. She faints after an episode in which she hears voices behind the peeling wallpaper. David, meanwhile, has stayed up all night working on his manuscript. Karin enters his room and tells him she can't sleep, and David tucks her in. Minus asks David to come with him out of the house, and David leaves. Karin looks through David's desk and finds his diary, learning that her disease is incurable and that her father has a callous hunger to record the details of her deterioration.
The following morning, David and Martin, while fishing, confront each other over Karin. Martin accuses David of sacrificing his daughter for his art, and of being a self-absorbed, callous, cowardly phony. David is evasive, but admits that much of what Martin says is true. David says that he recently tried to kill himself by driving over a cliff, but was saved by a faulty transmission. He says that after that, he discovered that he loves Karin, Minus and Martin, and this gives him hope.
Meanwhile, Karin tells Minus about her episodes, and that she is waiting for God to appear behind the wallpaper in the attic. Minus is somewhat sexually frustrated, and Karin teases him, even more so after she discovers that he hides a men's magazine. Later, on the beach, when Karin sees that a storm is coming, she runs into a wrecked ship and huddles in fear. Minus goes to her and she grabs him. Though the act is not shown the film suggests that Karin has sexually seduced her brother.
Minus tells the other men about the incident in the ship and Martin calls for an ambulance. Karin asks to speak with her father alone. She confesses her misconduct toward Martin and Minus, saying that a voice told her to act that way and also to search David's desk. She tells David she would like to remain at the hospital, because she cannot go back and forth between two realities — she must choose one. While they are packing to go to the hospital, she runs to the attic, where Martin and David observe her actions. She says that God is about to walk out of the closet door, and asks her husband to allow her to enjoy the moment. The ambulance, a helicopter, flies by the window, making a lot of noise and shaking the door open. Karin moves toward the door eagerly, but then she runs from it, terrified, and goes into a frenzy of panic. Karin vanishes, and, reappearing in a frenzy, is sedated. When she stands, she tells them of God: an evil-faced spider who tried to penetrate her. She looked into God's eyes, and they were "cold and calm," and when God failed to penetrate her he retreated onto the wall. "I have seen God," she announces.
Karin and Martin leave in the helicopter. Minus tells his father that he is afraid, because when Karin had grabbed him in the ship, he began leaving ordinary reality. He asks his father if he can survive that way. David tells him he can if he has "something to hold on to." He tells Minus of his own hope: love. David and his son discuss the concept of love as it relates to God, and the factor of human father-child relationships in the perception of God, in the stretching final chapter of the film. Minus seems relieved, and is tearfully happy that he finally had a real conversation with his father: "Father spoke to me."
Through a Glass Darkly is the first film in a trilogy focused on spiritual issues (together with Winter Light and The Silence). Bergman writes, "These three films deal with reduction. Through a Glass Darkly – conquered certainty. Winter Light – penetrated certainty. The Silence – God's silence – the negative imprint. Therefore, they constitute a trilogy." In an interview in 1969 Bergman stated that these three films had originally not been intended as a trilogy, he only regarded them as such in retrospect due to their similarity.
The spider god may be an allusion to Dostoevsky's character Svidrigailov in Crime and Punishment who wonders of the afterlife, "But what if there are only spiders there, or something like that?" Karin’s reaction to the wallpaper in the attic may also be taken as an allusion to Charlotte Perkins Gilman’ short story, “The Yellow Wallpaper.”
In 2004 producer Andrew Higgie persuaded Bergman to allow a stage version of the work, initially intended for a production by Andrew Upton and Cate Blanchett at the Sydney Theatre, but Upton relinquished the project to Jenny Worton, dramaturg of the Almeida Theatre, London, where it was presented in July 2010, starring Ruth Wilson in the lead role of Karin.
- Winter Light
- The Silence
- List of films featuring mental illness
- List of submissions to the 34th Academy Awards for Best Foreign Language Film
- List of Swedish submissions for the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film
- "The 34th Academy Awards (1962) Nominees and Winners". oscars.org. Retrieved 2011-10-29.
- "IMDB.com: Awards for Through a Glass Darkly". imdb.com. Retrieved 12 February 2010.
- [Through a Glass Darkly DVD Inner Sleeve]
- "Bergman om Bergman", Stockholm 1970
- Jury, Louise (25 June 2010). "The curious case of Blanchett and Bergman". Evening Standard (London). Retrieved 29 August 2010.
- Billington, Michael (17 June 2010). "Through a Glass Darkly". The Guardian (UK). Retrieved 14 July 2010.
- "Almeida – Through a Glass Darkly". Retrieved 28 August 2010.
- Bergman, Ingmar; Worton, Jenny (2010). Through a Glass Darkly. London: Nick Hern Books. ISBN 1-84842-123-0.
- Frank Gado, "The Passion of Ingmar Bergman," Duke University Press, 1986.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to: Through a Glass Darkly|
- Through a Glass Darkly at the Internet Movie Database
- Through a Glass Darkly at AllRovi
- Through a Glass Darkly at the Swedish Film Database
- Criterion Collection essay by Peter Matthews
- Synopsis, reviews and commentary at Bergmanorama: The Magic Works of Ingmar Bergman
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