List Film

Bergman: The Faith Trilogy (4 stars)

(15) 260min (Tartan DVD retail)

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DRAMA

As with much of Ingmar Bergman’s work this trilogy of early 60s films on the issue of faith are really chamber pieces, where a sense of claustrophobia weighs heavily on the characters’ lives. Whether that’s the island in Through a Glass Darkly (1961), the small town in Winter Light (1962), or the hotel in The Silence (1963), there is a sense that there isn’t quite enough space for the characters to avoid confronting their souls. In Through a Glass Darkly a young woman is clearly losing her mind, but how are the three men in her life – her husband, father and brother – dealing with it? In Winter Light a priest debates his usefulness to his dwindling congregation as he muses over his own relationship with God.

If the first film deals with madness, the second with belief, The Silence concentrates on illness. One sister lies ill in a hotel bed, and the other finds solace in casual sex, all the while the latter’s son looks on as tanks rumble through the streets outside. Bergman’s genius has always been to generate cinematic spaces that force the characters into conflict with each other, and for their inner turmoil to come to the surface. These are three fine examples of that gift. Extras include video introductions from Bergman and a booklet of collected essays by Philip Strick.

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