I had to learn the hard way, that there are less than "perfect" renditions of this DVD out there to be sold. The first I bought was one of these. I won't go on to "name call", but paying extra for the Criterion Collection is a must for any Bergman fan. The poor film quality and subtitles (to the point they are distracting from the film and at times so bad they are humerous) make paying anything at all a sheer waste of money for a Criterion Collection substitute.
I don't agree that Autumn Sonata is a mediocre film. I think Bergman did understand women well, and portrayed this mother/daughter relationship nicely. He was able to show in his dialectically opposite approach, the vulnerabilities of the narcisstic artist and the self depreciating/ martyr. They exposed themselves, faced off and retreated to their comfortable life positions by the end of the movie. The use of the unnamed ailment of the younger daughter represents the other side of mother who often cries as a baby of her back pain, but at least is left whole enough to express herself also in her music. The death of the son at age four I think represents the symbolic death of the innocence in all of the "chamber music" of characters in this film (mother, daughters and husband) which Bergman uses in many of his movies. The sparing use of scenery and number of protagonists adds to the reality of the despair here. Anyway, I could go on too long....enough said. I think this movie is worth a watch and a long ponder.