Film Micrœview #128: Winter Light (1963)

08.29.2014 § Leave a comment

Winter Light

Rating: Good.

Here Bergman is trying to go more naturalistic, less symbolic as he was in, say, The Virgin Spring. He deals with contemporary issues directly — the suicide of this film is explicitly due to the Cold War. Plus the pastor represents Bergman’s own father (a recurring presence in his films, such as in Fanny and Alexander later) and his own wife had a skin condition as does the schoolteacher. And yet at the same time Winter Light does stand for something much greater: a crisis of faith in all of humanity, the doubt surging through our religious support. What I felt was sort of a combination of these things: the central character so distraught in the face of the silent unknowable, yet to the face of this person who is weak relative to him, rather than empathizing with that weakness (she wants to live for him in the way he wants to live for God), he brings his wrath down on her. The guilt Bergman feels personally is palpable here. The plot and camerawork is as brutally empty as the church the pastor keeps.

Faces are the heroes here. Perhaps I think this mostly because I’m reading Bresson’s Notes on Cinematography…


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