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Winter Light [DVD] [1962]

Ingrid Thulin , Gunnar Björnstrand , Ingmar Bergman    Parental Guidance   DVD
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
Price: £9.98
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Product details

  • Actors: Ingrid Thulin, Gunnar Björnstrand, Gunnel Lindblom, Max von Sydow, Allan Edwall
  • Directors: Ingmar Bergman
  • Writers: Ingmar Bergman
  • Producers: Allan Ekelund
  • Format: Import, PAL
  • Language: Swedish
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: All Regions
  • Aspect Ratio: 4:3 - 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Classification: PG
  • Studio: Tartan
  • DVD Release Date: 19 Nov 2001
  • Run Time: 80 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00005RY95
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 32,118 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)



The second of an Ingmar Bergman trilogy, 1962's Winter Light is a deliberate repudiation of the "God is love" message of its predecessor Through a Glass Darkly. Gunnar Bjornstrand stars as Tomas, a pastor in a remote parish tending to a dwindling congregation, as tense and distracted as David--the novelist Bjornstrand plays in Through a Glass Darkly. He finds himself trying to counsel a local fisherman Jonas, who is plagued by a sense of impending atomic doom but realises that the religious platitudes he consoles him with--"put your faith in the Lord"--are mere drivel. He himself is wracked by religious doubts, unable to tolerate "God's silence" and unable to prevent the fisherman from committing suicide. He finds himself taking out his inner woe on his eczema-riddled mistress, played by an unflatteringly made up Ingrid Thulin.

Described by Bergman's own wife as a "dreary masterpiece", the synopsis to Winter Light seems almost comically miserable, yet this passion play is gripping in its unsparing bleakness, bathed in the stark illumination implied by the title, ironically akin to the light of a religious epiphany. Released at the height of the Cuban Missile Crisis, its preoccupations and all-pervasive anxieties are especially apt.

On the DVD: Bergman's own notes reveal that Winter Lightis among his own favourites and he explains the evolution of the film's ideas at some length. Critic Philip Strick's background notes reveal that Gunnar Bjornstrand was exhausted and ill for much of the making of the film, which doubtless enhanced his anguished performance here. --David Stubbs

Product Description

United Kingdom released, PAL/Region 0 DVD: LANGUAGES: Swedish ( Dolby Digital 2.0 ), English ( Subtitles ), SPECIAL FEATURES: Filmographies, Interactive Menu, Production Notes, Scene Access, Trailer(s), SYNOPSIS: On a cold winter's Sunday, the pastor of a small rural church (Tomas Ericsson) performs service for a tiny congregation; though he is suffering from a cold and a severe crisis of faith. After the service, he attempts to console a fisherman (Jonas Persson) who is tormented by anxiety, but Tomas can only speak about his own troubled relationship with God. A school teacher (Maerta Lundberg) offers Tomas her love as consolation for his loss of faith. But Tomas resists her love as desperately as she offers it to him. This is the second in Bergman's trilogy of films dealing with man's relationship with God. ...Winter Light ( Nattvardsgästerna )

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Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
4.2 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars a brilliant, if flawed, meditation on faith 29 Nov 2001
By A Customer
Winter Light is one of the starkest of Bergman's films. The film opens with prayer, but it seems to be futile. The austere camera work and mercilous frraming points to a word in which God no longer listens, and His people no longer believe they will be heard. But on closer reflection, the film can also be viewed as an attack on the outward view of the main character of the pastor, a man so complacent in his own assumptions of God that he has rendered Him unreal and irrelevant. Gunnar Bjornstrand gives an emotionally powerful performance, as the pastor struggling to find comfort in a world that has become bereft of hope. Lacking many highly dramatic moments, the film can appear brittle, but it is always beautiful and is, at times, almost unbearably moving.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
By Nicho
Ingmar Bergman directed over 60 films in his life, including a number of TV movies in the latter part of his career and is regarded as one of the finest directors in the history of world cinema. My own introduction to him came at a showing of his weird and wonderful `horror' Hour Of The Wolf [DVD] [1968] at the Barbican but Winter Light is the best film of his that I have seen to date and most certainly a gem. The film is, like Wong Kar Wai's In The Mood For Love [2000] [DVD], the middle chapter of a very loose trilogy. As with Wong Kar Wai's film, it is stand-alone and so there is no requirement to ever see the other two (Through A Glass Darkly [DVD] [1961] and The Silence [DVD] [1963]) though they are both work checking out and share a theme with this; Faith.

The plot and setup of this film are extremely simple as there is really very little action to speak of; the ideas and themes that are presented however are a different kettle of fish entirely. The film follows a day in the life of a pastor, Tomas, played wonderfully by Gunnar Björnstrand (one of several Bergman regulars amongst the cast) as he struggles to complete his duty struggling to come to terms with the silent God that he serves. Faith and religion are major themes throughout Bergman's career and the faith trilogy is often seen as his attempt to address his own doubts about his faith and his own concerns at God's silence.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Classic Bergman. 17 April 2006
The second part of Bergman's trilogy of films on the existence of God, Winter Light depicts a village pastor whose faith is crumbling. The film follows his inability to find a way help a parishioner who is struggling with depression and a profound sense of futility, and his abortive and loveless relationship with the local schoolmistress. This is a sombre film with some wonderful performances, and was one of Bergman's favourites of his own films.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Powerful Bergman 20 April 2014
This bleak, sparse film from Ingmar Bergman focuses on a disillusioned, increasingly skeptic Lutheran priest called Thomas (Gunnar Bjorstrand, who's excellent) administering the gospel in a Swedish village to a very small congregation. He's unable to accept the love offered him by the plain school teacher Marta (Ingrid Thulin, also very good), and incapable to offer the conviction of his faith to save from suicide a fisherman called Jonas (Max von Sydow) troubled by the prospect of a nuclear war(incidentally, this was filmed just before the Cuban missile crisis).

This must have been a very personal film by Bergman (the son of a stern Lutheran priest, the director lost his religious faith as a young man). There are a lot of biblical allusions and religious discussions (we have a doubting Thomas, a fisherman called Jonas). One can nitpick here and there (one could wonder why the younger Marta is so attracted to the middle aged, aloof Thomas, or whether Jonas motivation to kill himself is credible), but if you are willing to suspend your disbelief, the minimalist direction and the great acting made for a powerful movie. Reportedly this was Ingmar Bergman choice as the favorite film he made.
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9 of 13 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Agonised look at a draining of faith 19 Nov 2000
By Nettlewine VINE VOICE
Format:VHS Tape
This is the second in Bergman's "Faith" trilogy, bracketed by Through A Glass Darkly and The Silence.
It is perhaps the most downbeat of the three, with Bergman spinning out a yarn of a preacher attempting to fulfil his duties to a remote parish. The emptiness (of the church, for one) is excruciating, and the embarrassment of performing the old rituals to two or three people brings the preacher's torment to the fore. In his back room he quietly reveals to a close companion that he has no more faith.
The suicide of a lonely soul in his parish drives the nail home and the preacher is unable to continue without some tortuous self-examination, helped by some unsymapthetic parishoners.
An excellent performance by Gunnar Bjornstrand, who battled through a life-threatening illness to finish [and indeed carried on or many years], and an inspired piece of work, if a little desperate at times. But where would we be without the desperation?
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