Agnes is dying of cancer at the end of what one imagines to be late 19th Century, and is taken care of by her sisters Karin (Ingrid Thulin) and Maria (Liv Ullman), and the maid Anna (Kari Sylwan). This is one of the purest and most horrifying films I believe Bergman has ever made. A shade of the color red dominates throughout the film, and brings an immediate and naturally convincing mood. All actors contribute with a powerful and chilling intensity, especially actress Harriet Andersson--whose pain as Agnes is very believable, even enchanting--and are more than well supported by the amazing camera work of Sven Nykvist. To prove that this is the work of a brilliant, highly skilled director, and professional actors and crew, the movie was shot on location in only six weeks!
The Criterion disc features a 52-minute interview with Ingmar Bergman and Erland Josephson (who appears briefly in the movie), taped for Swedish television in 2000. Interviewed by Malou von Sivers, Bergman and Josephson discuss life, death, and love. Bergman, here at age 82, proves to be a down-to-earth and young-at-heart guy. The sound in the interview (surprisingly enough for a Criterion disc), distorts a bit, and can be quite distracting at times, but is not so bothersome that one wouldn't want to continue listening to what these masters of film and cinema have to say (even if the topics barely touch upon their work and careers).
Optional subtitles, as well as an English-dubbed soundtrack are available. The dubbing is surprisingly accurate to the picture, and is done by the actors featured in the movie. At times this accuracy may convince you that the movie was made in English. Still (despite this stunning surprise), I would suggest watching this in Swedish, as intended - at least the first time around.
I watched this movie with a pair of good head-phones, in a comfortable chair, and alone in the dark at three o'clock in the morning. I recommend others to watch it under similar conditions - it adds to the intensity, and one can appreciate the intended mood of the film better if there aren't distractions. I seriously doubt that this picture will disappoint any true fan of good cinema.