A Swedish pastor fails a loving woman, a suicidal fisherman and God.
A Swedish pastor fails a loving woman, a suicidal fisherman and God.
Lying beneath the arches and mosaics of the moderately decorated architecture, the dusty half empty pews, and the flooded natural sun leaking down over the congregation is a clandestine struggle quietly waging war within us. In a Bergman film, this is merely setting the stage.
Winter Light is an example of a perfect film at least in the Bergman vocabulary sense. For a film designed almost in a theatrical concept for its minimalism, it remains largely cinematic and achieves a great deal over the course of a hour in real time and only an afternoon in film time. In the space between morning congregation and afternoon ceremonies, the lives of a small group of individuals is tested in the most…
"I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing." (John 15:5)
Second part of the auteur's trilogy dealing with man's relationship with God. It is literally impossible to relate with this masterpiece's protagonist unless you are a son of God. "But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name." (John 1:12)
What is so absolutely accurate and brilliant about the movie is the fact that it states how agnostics, atheists, etc. lose their credibility in God based on the actions of humans, not…
As the light reaches in through the windows, those who pray cower in their respective pews. Although the sun shines, everyone understands that the outside world is one of shivering bitterness and modern gasps of fear. Clinging, clinging, clinging to someone who will listen, quietly hoping for a reply within the shattered chambers of the church. The silence gives way to hardened spouts of regret and anguishing periods of hopelessness, but then again, does that even matter when one still happens to listen and the snow continues to descend?
"Suffering is incomprehensible,
So it needs no explanation."
And neither does this film.
It shouldn't be explained.
It should be experienced.
Possibly Bergman's finest.
A cinematic crisis of faith.
I am going to ramble until I make sense of my thoughts on this:
It is no coincidence, I think, that the one person in this film to have a deeper understanding of Jesus and his own faith does so through open compassion. Algot, who is apparently physically disabled, dismisses the physical pain of Jesus in favor of the spiritual and emotional pain of being abandoned, citing it as the more severe form of pain suffered during the Passion. His insight into Jesus' suffering is in contrast to the faithless and broken Tomas, who has failed (in a manner that is, to me, a personally devastating manner) to reach out with compassion to anyone (in the course of the film).…
Technically and thematically, Winter Light is a masterpiece, it is full of great scenes and challenging questions. For the first ten minutes we are shown the closing moments of a service held by pastor Tomas (Gunnar Björnstrand), attended by only a few people. The service is depicted as more of a routine, with Tomas speaking on a flat and mechanical tone. Several moments like a child getting bored, the organist constantly looking at his watch while performing, the collected money on the table, make this supposedly solemn and spiritual activity feel less glamorous, taking away its pomp. The small attendance gives an idea what kind of world Bergman has prepared for his characters, a pretty bleak and aimless one. The…
"Sitting calmly on a ship in fair weather is not a metaphor for having faith; but when the ship has sprung a leak, then enthusiastically to keep the ship afloat by pumping and not to seek the harbor - that is the metaphor for having faith."
-Søren Kierkegaard (Concluding Unscientific Postscript to Philosophical Fragments)
Ingmar Bergman's Winter Light is a cinematic examination of religious struggles, a chamber play of sorts that presents only the events of one afternoon and features just a handful of characters.
The main protagonist - brilliantly played by frequent Bergman collaborator Gunnar Björnstrand - is a pastor in a small rural Swedish town that is dealing with a crisis of faith following the death of his…
Faith is a paradox: sometimes losing it is the only way to truly have it. We realize that the struggle of holding onto it is actually part of the process of strengthening it.
There are about 3 locations in this movie yet it contains so much in its exploration and portrayal. I don't always love Bergman's deliberate plotting and shoegazing philosophy, but the connection to Christ and His loneliness made unexpectedly by a secondary character was intensely moving.
Once and for all I must escape this junkyard of circumstance. You would think I'd love this one the most--and there are, for sure, sequences which are not just moving but thrilling. Bjornstrand, quickly becoming for me the standout actor of Bergman's troupe, throws himself into the barrenness of the priest; and I'll come away, I think, with two scenes indelibly lodged in my memory. First is the drive back from the fisherman's suicide--
What is it we keep on living for, if not for love and all of its complexities?
I dont think Bergman has ever failed to delicately insert a needle into my heart.
"If God didnt exxist, would it even make a difference?"
Basically, Bergman looked at the reaction to The Seventh Seal and said, "oh, you didn't see that as the secret ahem *black* comedy it was? ill just get Sven and Gunnar and Max and some others and we'll make that look like a Marx brothers movie."
It occurs to me now that seeing this at a formative time when I was about 19/20 made a really huge impact on me as a filmmaker. I think this was one of those moments with Bergman - and ive had a couple dozen with him if not more - where I thought, "I didnt know you could do *that*" and it changed how…
One of the most heartbreaking films I have ever seen.
Bergman has a way of surprising you after you’ve given up. I was tired for this one; I started nodding off during solemn scenes of Catholic mass (all the more bleak because they try to be funny) and existential uncertainty — the usual fare. My consciousness fluttered in and out of Ingrid Thulin delivering a testimonial to Gunnar Björnstrand on their relationship... and then things came back into focus for the remainder of that marvelous scene, and for the rest of the picture.
Winter Light is elegant, its power rooted in that one conversation between Thulin and Björnstrand in the classroom, seated at children’s desks.
You’re gonna feel every one of these 81 minutes. The impenetrable guards put up by the characters in Winter Light make this a bit of a chore. Their insistence on shunning the very connections they so desperately desire perfectly reflects my attitude towards wanting to carry on watching them. There is some humor, and a tiny sliver of hope at the end. Really love the speech about Christ’s suffering and pain given by Frövik.
Watching The Silence and can’t stop thinking about Winter Light. Rating upgraded to four stars.
This is how church should be: rote, joyless, mostly empty, devoid of any belief.
Dave Vis 250 films
The Letterboxd Top 250 movies, based on the average weighted rating of all Letterboxd users. I chose to remove all…