|Harriet Andersson plays Karin in Ingmar Bergman's Through a Glass Darkly (1961)|
Through A Glass Darkly (1961)
d. Ingmar Bergman
Criterion Collection #209
Part of A Film Trilogy by Ingmar Bergman (four discs) Criterion Collection #208
There is A LOT of Bergman to work through within the Criterion Collection. The three of the four films I've watched thus far, The Seventh Seal(1957), Cries and Whispers (1972)& Persona (1966)are big hits, but I dig all of his movies. I haven't really dug into the non-hits but I am most eager. I believe that you can divide Bergman into three main periods: His films of the 50s are what you might call his "expressionistic" period, with ponderous medieval settings and heavy use of allegory. In the 60s he made a transition to more "realistic" film making, with heavy use of natural lighting and plots that were typically contemporary. And then in the 70s there was a late shift into more "modern" looks- using color and more graphic sexual material.
So through A Glass Darkly is from the beginning of that second period, and it has a theme that resonates with other Bergman sixties films like Persona. Through A Glass Darkly was part of a trilogy of films Bergman made between 1961 and 1963. Through A Glass Darkly was the first film, followed by Winter Light (1962) and The Silence(1963). Although none of Bergman is what you would call "light" all three films from this period are very "heavy" and did poorly at the box office, according to the interview with Bergman biographer/film scholar Peter Matthews, because they broke with audience expectations.
Personally, I found Through A Glass Darkly, with it's theme of Artists cannibalizing their loved ones for material particularly appetizing because I actually spend a good amount of time thinking about the relationship of the Artist to his/her environment and how that impacts the resulting art. In Through A Glass Darkly, Bergman seems to be copping to the fact that such a process is inevitable, and to a certain extent, simply unforgivable. There is no redemption at the end of Through A Glass Darkly, only sadness.