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Ingmar Bergman Trilogy (Through a Glass Darkly / Winter Light / The Silence) (Criterion Collection)

5 out of 5 stars 15 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Actors: Harriet Andersson, Gunnar Björnstrand, Karl-Arne Bergman, Leif Forstenberg, Ingrid Thulin
  • Directors: Ingmar Bergman
  • Producers: Allan Ekelund
  • Format: Box set, Black & White, DVD-Video, Subtitled, NTSC
  • Language: Swedish
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 1 (US and Canada This DVD will probably NOT be viewable in other countries. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 4
  • MPAA Rating: UNRATED
  • Studio: Criterion
  • Release Date: Aug. 19 2003
  • Run Time: 410 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars 15 customer reviews
  • ASIN: B0000A02TX
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #8,019 in DVD (See Top 100 in DVD)
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Product Description

Product Description

At the beginning of the 1960s, renowned film director Ingmar Bergman began work on what were to become some of his most powerful and representative works—the Trilogy. Already a figure of tremendous international acclaim for such masterworks as The Seventh Seal, Wild Strawberries, and The Virgin Spring, Bergman turned his back on the abundant symbolism and exotic imagery of his ‘50s work to focus on a series of impacted, emotionally explosive chamber dramas examining faith and alienation in the modern age. Utilizing a new cameraman—the incomparable Sven Nykvist—Bergman unleashed Through a Glass Darkly, Winter Light, and The Silence in rapid succession, exposing moviegoers worldwide to a new level of intellectual and emotional intensity. Each film employs minimal dialogue, eerily isolated settings, and searing performances from such Bergman regulars as Max von Sydow, Harriet Andersson, Gunnar Bjornstrand, Ingrid Thulin and Gunnel Lindblom in their evocation of a desperate world confronted with God’s desertion. Drawing on Bergman’s own severely religious upbringing and ensuing spiritual crisis, the films in the Trilogy are deeply personal, challenging, and enriching works that exhibit the filmmaker’s peerless formal mastery and fierce intelligence. The Criterion Collection is proud to present The Ingmar Bergman Trilogy: Through a Glass Darkly, Winter Light, and The Silence.


Between 1961 and 1963, Ingmar Bergman released a remarkable trilogy of so-called chamber dramas, each one concerned with the futility of sustaining faith in God, family, love, or much else. The series proved transitional for the internationally renowned Swedish filmmaker, securing his crucial collaboration with cinematographer Sven Nykvist (with whom Bergman would go on to make his many masterpieces--including Persona and Cries and Whispers--of the '60s, '70s, and early '80s), and underscoring a new preference for intimate, relationship-driven stories, austere settings, and haunting tones of emotional isolation and despair.

Through a Glass Darkly concerns a psychologically fragile woman, Karin (Harriet Andersson), who seeks recovery from a nervous breakdown while on a remote-island vacation with her family. Unfortunately, her father (Gunnar Björnstrand), a successful writer, regards her with clinical detachment, her husband (Max Von Sydow), a doctor, feels unavailing in the effort to treat her, and her brother (Lars Passgard) is wrapped up in his own quest for sexual fulfillment. Karin's descent into further loneliness and delusion exacerbates the heretofore unspoken alienation at the heart of this entire family, and drives the characters to brood over the existence of God (or, in Karin's case, imagine that God is the chilling spider hidden behind an attic door). Through a Glass Darkly is a heartbreaking, powerful work of art.

Winter Light reunites Björnstrand, this time playing a pastor suffering a crisis of faith while ministering to a shrinking congregation, and Von Sydow as a parishioner lost to acute anxiety over the possibility of a nuclear holocaust. Neither man can help or heal the other, or even inspire renewed confidence in practiced rituals and older, more certain views of the world. Set on a chilly, Sunday afternoon, Winter Light's heavy stillness, lack of music, preference for intense close-ups and distancing long shots, and barren setting all lead us inescapably into the core of a profound silence, an echo chamber in which love can't grow and religion rings hollow.

The Silence is the most abstract entry in the trilogy, a somewhat eerie story of two sisters, Esther (Ingrid Thulin) and Anna (Gunnel Lindblom), and the latter's son (Jörgen Lindström), all traveling by train to Sweden but forced to stay in a foreign country when Esther's chronic bronchial problems require her to rest. A stifling atmosphere, a desolate hotel, encounters with a troupe of carnival dwarves, Anna's anchoring illness, and an empty sexual encounter for Esther underscore the unnerving feeling that God has abandoned these characters to dubious salvation in their own connection. A highly memorable film. --Tom Keogh

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Perhaps the most amazing thing about Bergman's huge body of work is how his style continued to grow and evolve, even
as he was drawn again and again to the great questions in life; is there a God? How do we face death? What is the
meaning of being here? Can we be happy? Can people be kind to each other, or are we doomed only to cause harm? Is love real?

Yet, while the themes stay consistent, how he approached them varied wildly over 50 years of film-making, from the uber-experimental,
groundbreaking poetic surrealism of "Persona", to the highly symbolic "Seventh Seal", to his later works, more grounded in naturalism and
day-to-day realism, but no less profound for it. Pieces like "Scenes From a Marriage", or "Cries and Whispers".

These three films, which I've heard referred to as "the Faith Trilogy", "The Silence of God" trilogy, or simply "The Trilogy" as Criterion labels
them, represent a paradoxic step forward from his earlier work. On one hand they are more poetic, subtle, works - even the highly surreal
"The Silence" is more fragile and etherial than, say, the earlier "Virgin Spring". The film making is more stylized, from the never moving camera
of "Winter's Light" with it's very self conscious framings, and six minute long monologues, to the almost Fellini-esque "The Silence".

On the other hand, the performances themselves are even more grounded in the kind of understated hyper-realism that was Bergman's ever
growing trademark.

While not my personal favorites of Bergman's work (I am most attached to his later pieces) these are still must-see, if not 'easy' films, for any
fan of grown up thoughtful film-making.
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Of late, I have developed an interest in Bergman movies. I can't seem to get myself away from them, as the "artfullness" of Bergman's movies transcend time and even Bergman's weightly "popularity". When he was allowed to pursue his "art" by being given the "poetic license" of his popularity i.e. he could write, direct, attract stars that he wanted, I feel he produced what one would hope, all he was capable of as an artist.
Yes, this sounds grandiose on my part to give such an uninhibited glowing review of what would seem to be such stark movies. But folks, these DVD's are worth it, because the viewer is given the opportunity to see the behind the scenes making of the movies, and more than a peek at Bergman himself. Bergman appears to be an artist not afraid to look at himself beyond the curse of Narcissus. What he was able to see and show through these movies is remarkable.
I bought these DVD's with some trepidation, thinking that I may be pursuing my interest to nurture my proclivity to wallow in depressive affect or worse to try to in my older middle aged years imbibe as much art as I can tolerate as the trash that is produced and maketed by the media is exponential. I'm afraid to say that much of the "art" sits on my bookshelves or in a pile here or there, gleaned once and put away for another time. I could not do that with these movies, or any other Bergman DVD's that I have watched. I bring up the DVD issue, as the VCR versions are nice, but do not offer the "extras" of the DVD's i.e. interviews with Bergman, etc. I have VCR versions of some of his movies, but will buy DVD as well of some of them i.e. Persona when they are available. Enough said, anyone with an interest in Bergman should own this exceptional Trilogy plus "Ingmar Bergman makes a movie".
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As with Beckett's trilogy of novels _Molloy, Malone Dies and The Unnamable_ this trilogy of novels seems to imitate Baroque music in its structure--at the time, through Bergman's marriage with Kabi Laretei (sorry if this is misspelled), Bergman became even more interested in Baroque music, especially the music of Bach. Bach was a master of chamber music--that is, music with few musicians that give the viewer/listener a sense of intimacy. And the trilogy seems to have, in its three films, the three movements of a traditional chamber concerto. And Bach's music figures prominently in at least two of the films--in the first, with the soundtrack lifted from Bach, and in the last, with one of the few moments of communication centered around Bach's music. (I am not sure if the organ music in the second film is also Bach; it seems a reasonable hypothesis.) The trilogy represents a cinematic break for Bergman from the large, intricate productions exemplified by _Wild Strawberries_ and _The Seventh Seal_.
But the trilogy seems to represent a transition for Bergman from problems of theology to those immediate problems people experience. This is the reason for the necessity of cinematic intimacy--to be close to these people's problems, one must first be close to the people represented.
I have attempted, here, to avoid obscurities. The interpretation of such details has gone on apace, as with all Bergman's films. But these obscurities are often not too dificult to understand, as Bergman often uses the same themes of religion and despair in all his films.
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