Starring: Harriett Andersson, Gunnar Björnstrand, Max von Sydow
Director: Ingmar Bergman
Running Time: 90 mins
Through A Glass Darkly (Såsom i en spegel) is a Swedish film about a young woman suffering from schizophrenia who reunites with her family on an isolated island, where she begins to see visions of God.
As ever with Ingmar Bergman, there’s a lot to process with Through A Glass Darkly. And as ever when I watch Ingmar Bergman, about 90% of the real dramatic depth goes over my head. So, as I said in my review of The Seventh Seal, this isn’t the place for an in-depth analysis of the countless transcendent themes the legendary director offers up here, but rather a more run-of-the-mill perspective on the film for the casual moviegoer.
As I said, of the Ingmar Bergman films I’ve seen so far, I’ve only managed to really crack two of them (or so I think). Those are Wild Strawberries and Fanny And Alexander, which are truly fantastic films, and shows just how much you can get out of watching an Ingmar Bergman movie if you really get to grips with its main ideas.
However, I can’t say that I managed the same with Through A Glass Darkly. Bergman definitely touches on familiar themes of faith, searching for purpose in life and mental anguish, but there’s clearly something more to this film that I’m missing out on.
As a result, I must say that I was never entirely enthralled by the film. I’m certain that, with more rewatches over the years, I’ll understand more about it, but on first viewing, I really struggled to grasp its core drama, making the director’s typically slow and often abstract style more of a burden than should really be the case.
If you are a casual viewer, and haven’t seen any of Bergman’s films before, then Through A Glass Darkly most likely isn’t the place to start for you. Though it features striking cinematic style and a committed lead performance from Harriett Andersson, the film is complex, abstract and filled with dramatic depth that’s far too much for someone like me to fully appreciate in just one viewing.
In short, Through A Glass Darkly is worth the watch for its style, the performances and the almost daunting challenge of picking your way through Bergman’s complex thematic web. However, I can’t say that I was able to fully grasp the movie in the way that I’ve managed with other films, so I’ll reserve full judgement on the film until later. For now, I’m giving Through A Glass Darkly a 7.4 overall.