|The original film poster, 1961|
Well, this was intense viewing. A chamber film as Bergman, the writer and director, defines it. Divided into three acts, within a 24-hour period with just four characters set on a single small Swedish island. Suffocating and claustophobic to say the least... so it's no wonder each character is suffering with inner turmoils of varying levels. Most notably Karin, who has only recently been released from a mental institute and still competes with her demons. Her husband, seemingly the most stable of the four, claims her illness is incurable and as the day wears on we see Karin gradually succumbing to these voices and her belief that she can speak to God.
In addition to Karin's verging psychosis, we see her younger brother, Minus, battling with the inevitable, the nearing approach of manhood. He is a curious character, fragile but highly opinionated - possibly denying his descent into his adult years by writing-off the opposite sex... thus reclaiming a boyish innocence. However, it's not that easy as he acts as Karin's mentor, or at least her confidante. From inaudible voices heard by Karin, to voicing her anxieties to Minus, we see a trapped young man reaching out to his father, David, for advice and guidance. He is however failed, as David too is preoccupied by his own voice; his creative writing aspirations and the looming writer's block. So thematically Bergman draws on the idea of communication and lack of communication between a close-knit family; the idea of complete individualism, loneliness and prospect of never reaching the goal of happiness. This is supported by the origin of its title - it's taken from a biblical passage, in which it refers to our lack of understanding of God and life, something that cannot be fulfilled until death when the darkness clears to reveal the truth. I don't believe in God, but then that could be my misinterpretation of our realities... who knows? Only time will tell.
Sven Nykvist's beautiful cinematography adds an urgent sense of doom, with its atmospherically lit interior shots and the conscious inclusion of music from Bach. Just need to prep myself for the other two of the triology. Christ.
|She bloody loves that wallpaper.|
|See, she loves it.|