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Through A Glass Darkly [DVD] 
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Ingmar Bergman's Oscar-winning first part of a trilogy (which was followed in 1963 by 'Winter Light' and then 'The Silence'), traces a schizophrenic young woman's (Harriet Andersson) descent into madness as she spends a holiday on a remote holiday island with her father, brother and husband. Her husband is a doctor but feels helpless, her father seems to watch her disease with fascination and keeps a journal of her condition, whilst she seduces 17-year-old brother when she discovers he is a virgin
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Although the film is a classic I do find the cruelty of the father a bit much, as is the necessary plot device of having Karin read his very cold journal entry about her, by prying. Perhaps I just wanted it not to be about something so painful, because her decline seems as inevitable as the sister played by the same actress (Harriet Andersson) in Cries and Whispers, who in that film is dying of cancer. Bergman deals too much with these themes, I think, or at least, with added cruelties in the setup that make it too much. I also found the way of directing light onto characters' faces rather unnatural in effect. They are usually shot in poor daylight or not very dark night, with the artificial light illuminating them more than they would actually be, but the effect is a bit disorientating, even chilling. Perhaps this is of a piece with the themes, but it makes the film a rather stark, unremitting night and day, compressed into 86 minutes.
god?, What's the meaning of art?, etc.) but now on a much more human
level. The preachiness is gone, and the characters are no longer
archetypes. Just human beings struggling with the difficulties of
Phenomenal, understated performances all around, and beautiful
cinematography more than compensate for occasional hints of staginess
in this chamber drama with just 4 characters; a father, his son and
schizophrenic daughter, and her husband who loves her in spite of her
All the characters are human, identifiable, occasionally ugly, and
true. And somehow this led to me thinking much more deeply about my own
life then the impressive, but more on-the-nose cosmic questioning of
'The Seventh Seal' or even 'Wild Strawberries'.
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Most recent customer reviews
Harriet Andersson's haunting performance is utterly breathtaking.Read more
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