27 August 2010

Winter Light

As a growing fan of Ingmar Bergman, I would place this one at the top of the films I've seen so far. In one word: Severe. Bergman is just so on top of his game with this movie, that you almost don't realize there's someone behind the camera. From the austere cast, to the troubling plot, to the somber characters, filled with dread and ennui over the future moreso than the present.

Gunnar Björnstrand plays Pastor Tomas, whose shaken faith (over these last four years since his wife's passing) has driven everyone from his flock, reducing the congregation to a mere handful of people. His performance is masterful, even weaving his own malady (he was sick during a few days of filming) into the character's hubris.

Ingrid Thulin (Marta) takes the biggest emotional beating during the Pastor's harsh and unrelenting screed half-way through the film. I am stunned once again at Bergman's ability to write for women. Just jaw-dropping.

For me though, it is Allan Edwall, as the Hunchback (Algot) who steals the film with his one soliloquy in the final moments of the movie. I won't ruin it for you, but his dissection of the "Passion" as it pertains to physical and spiritual pain is what really finally sews the film together.

Allan makes Tomas look like a chump.

Fantastic film.