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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars a brilliant, if flawed, meditation on faith
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...
Published on 29 Nov 2001

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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
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...
Published on 19 Nov 2000 by Nettlewine


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10 of 11 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
This review is from: Winter Light [DVD] [1962] (DVD)
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
4.0 out of 5 stars Powerful Bergman, 20 April 2014
By 
Andres C. Salama (Buenos Aires, Argentina) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Winter Light [DVD] [1962] (DVD)
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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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Winter Light (Ingmar Bergman, 1963, Sweden, 81mins), 4 April 2011
This review is from: Winter Light [DVD] [1962] (DVD)
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.

The film opens on the final ten minutes of Tomas' morning service which may sound laborious but is in fact riveting. We see the mostly empty rural church and all of it's inhabitants as Tomas performs; some people cannot muster up the enthusiasm to even hum along with the hymns, one person sings with great depth and feeling, the man playing the organ yawns and checks his watch and a child dozes on a pew much to the consternation of his mother. It is very clear as only a handful of the attendees approach the front for communion that Sweden is fast becoming a more secular society and that those people still attending church don't want to be there but feel obliged.

And thus the scene is set for Tomas to have his existential crisis and this is prompted by the visit of Jonas and his wife after the service. Jonas (played by Max von Sydow) is having a crisis of his own which manifests as a fear of nuclear attack from China due to a radio interview he had heard. This threat of destruction is a cause of constant fear in Jonas and it is when he wonders why he needs to stay alive that Tomas is truly effected by him. The crisis of faith that Tomas is having is no new thing, he has lost all reverence for a God that would allow his wife to die four years earlier and it is clear that he has been struggling in his role for this period - it is all brought out by Jonas though.

When he is visited by his would be wife Martha, Tomas is behaves cruelly towards her despite her attempts at affection and through this we begin to simultaneously investigate the theme of love and what love is through Tomas' relationships with Martha and his deceased wife culminating in the brutal scene in the schoolroom.

The performances in this film are fantastic as is usually the case with Bergman's films; Björnstrand is perfect as the deeply troubled pastor attempting to shepherd his dwindling flock despite his own lack of faith. The scene in the schoolhouse with Martha towards the end is a terrifically cold and callous piece of performance as he lays forth a stream of insult. He is also equally matched by Ingrid Thulin as Martha who perfectly balances the fussy nature of the character whilst still imbuing her with the deep love that she feels for Tomas; the scene in which she reads the letter directly to camera is an ingenious device from the director and an unforgettable moment from Thulin.

Despite being a chamber-peice and thus largely set in the same place, the film is also beautifully shot by Sven Nykvist, a number of my favourite moments being the opening service (the whole ten minutes), the beautiful shot of Tomas as the light pours in through the window and he wonders Why hast thou forsaken me?, the whole scene by the river bank and the shot (above) as Tomas walks into the chapel and stumbles on the step while Martha stands watching by the window.

Despite the somewhat heavy and perhaps unattractive subject matter, this is a very easy film to get into and to love. A masterpiece of a film with great camera work, universal themes and pitch-perfect performances.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Classic Bergman., 17 April 2006
By 
David Welsh (Oslo, Norway) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Winter Light [DVD] [1962] (DVD)
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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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 
This review is from: Winter Light [VHS] (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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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The second in Bergman's 'Silence of God' trilogy., 21 April 2012
By 
K. Gordon - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)    (REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Winter Light [DVD] [1962] (DVD)
On first viewing I was less affected by this than by `Through a Glass Darkly', which opens the trilogy, though a number of critics
rank it higher, and a couple call it one of the greatest films ever made. So I owe it a re-see.

Certainly, once again the acting is terrific, and the cinematography superb. More even than `Through a Glass Darkly' this film mines
the subtle shadings of the human face to an almost supernatural degree.

But this film returns to Bergman's early tendency to be very on-the-nose with his themes. Here it's the story itself. A pastor has
lost his faith, in the face of God's silence at the dark things of life. But in this story, just about everyone has surrendered to that
sort of hopeless depression, so the film feels more one note, more talky and `heady' than `Through a Glass Darkly', if more quiet
and subtle in its approach than the early Bergman works.

It's not just that the characters don't change that bothers me, its that it feels clear from the outset there is no hope of change, which
made me feel I'd already gotten the power of the film's questioning and aching loss (which is still considerable) long before its final moments.

None-the-less, how rewarding to see any film that is about the big questions, and addresses them in a serious, beautifully made way.
And I do find it haunting me since I've seen it.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars heavy going but a worthwhile film, 14 Aug 2013
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This review is from: Winter Light [DVD] [1962] (DVD)
the dvd arrived on time in perfect condition. I would use this seller again. thank you.

this film would be good for anybody interested in the human condition, and our relation to god, if there is one. it's heavy going in places and would shock anybody who has total faith in the faith of church clergy. i'd recommend it to 15 and over as it would be boring to anybody else.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A crisis of faith, 10 Aug 2013
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This review is from: Winter Light [DVD] [1962] (DVD)
Take of a country pastor struggling to maintain belief in the Christian faith he is expected to preach to his flock. His struggle with his own personal problems also limits his ability to offer comfort to parishioners why seek his advice. However the film ends with an enlightenment -of sorts!
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Bergman at his best., 4 Aug 2013
By 
L. Cole (belgium) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Winter Light [DVD] [1962] (DVD)
Hope they keep distributing good old movies. A must for all those who have an interest in theatre and movies.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great film, offering good points of view, 7 July 2011
This review is from: Winter Light [DVD] [1962] (DVD)
A great film that is in my Bergman top three..the film questions faith, in my opinion it gives reasons as to why people keep faith, and reasons why some lose it when it comes to God.

Powerful film.
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Winter Light [DVD] [1962]
Winter Light [DVD] [1962] by Ingmar Bergman (DVD - 2001)
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