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Winter Light (Criterion Collection)
Winter Light
Criterion Collection
Actors: Gunnar Björnstrand, Max von Sydow, Ingrid Thulin, Gunnel Lindblom
Director: Ingmar Bergman
Genres: Indie & Art House
NR     1hr 21min


Movie Details

Actors: Gunnar Björnstrand, Max von Sydow, Ingrid Thulin, Gunnel Lindblom
Director: Ingmar Bergman
Genres: Indie & Art House
Sub-Genres: Indie & Art House
Studio: Criterion Collection
Format: DVD - Black and White - Subtitled
Run Time: 1hr 21min
Screens: Black and White
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 12
Edition: Criterion Collection
MPAA Rating: NR (Not Rated)
Languages: Swedish

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Director: Ingmar Bergman
   NR   2004   1hr 23min

Movie Reviews

Deserves to be better-known
(5 out of 5 stars)

"This, the second in Bergman's "Faith" trilogy, is a dark, brooding tale of a clergyman who has lost his faith in God. Indeed, it is doubtful at all if he ever had it, for his vision of God is quite selfish. The action takes place on a single Sunday in November, where the town pastor (Gunnar Bjornstrand in an excellent performance) is finishing a service in front of a tiny congregation. During this day, the pastor will be forced to examine himself and to try to reach out for some human contact to replace the spiritual depletion within him. Also starring Max von Sydow, Gunnel Lindblom, and Ingrid Thulin as the schoolteacher who unselfishly offers herself to the pastor but is rejected in favor of the memory of his dead wife. This film has a subtle, deeply wrought poetry to it and should be seen by all lovers of intelligent cinema."
Moving Portrayal of Religious Conflict
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Of Bergman's religious trilogy, this one stands out to me because it seems to focus on the nature of religious crisis, and not the how and why. Bergman said of the film that "The surgery had finally been completed" -- that is, the removal of God as the suspender of ethics and purpose, but not the removal of the holiness of man's cause. Taken in its most positive terms, the film is humanist and secular in its message.The story is of a despondent small-town priest (Gunnar Bjornstrand). It opens with a gruelling church service: This is astonishing to me, because while revealing the routine monotony and empty ceremony of the service, Bergman does not lose the audiences's attention for one moment. There is something grim and beautiful in the film's opening: the telling quietness of the service, the sparse attendance, the disenguousness of the priest who has himself never reached God: every time I see this film, it never ceases to amaze me how such an inherently boring situation becomes so fascinating. It is some of the most brilliant cinematography in Bergman cinema, in my opinion; the camera hardly moves, making it natural and simplistic, but probing and intensifying. The way the camera follows every small, seemingly insignificant gesture (as the priest's moving his hands along a table's surface, for instance), are drained and exposed for all their telling beauty.After the service, the priest tries to console a young father who is obviously contemplating suicide, ostensibly for the sole reason of Chinese nuclear power. The priest's obsessions with the man causes something of an emotional chain reaction, a mini-odyssey of a man tortured by ennui and indifference, unable to reach God, finding only instead the thematic "Spider God." Gunnar Bjornstrand gives his finest performance, the type of magic that occures so rarely (as Sjostrom in Wild Strawberries). A particular scene, when he visits the suicidal man's family, moves me to no ends: its not his emotion, but his genuine lack of emotion that is so interesting.There is a scene, however, that I don't think particularly worked out; the letter-reading scene. I think this is the first time Bergman employed the trick (later used in films like Autumn Sonata and From the Life of the Marionettes, to better effect) of a single camera poised on an extreme close-up of the face of the author of the letter, as they read it as though they were speaking directly to the receiver. Its a somewhat extended scene in the film, and most others I've talked to find it intoxicating: I disagree. Its too long, and I think in this case it would have been better served to have showed Gunnar's reactions as he read the letter, rather than the uneventful reverse. This is a small quibble, though, and I think most would disagree with me.This film will always occupy a special place in my heart, but it remains among the most unconventional works Bergman did, at least pre-70s. Take that for what you will, the film is inarguably a somber and sober masterpiece which still inpires me to great reflection: For the thinking person's collection."
A perfect film.
Richard Mills | San Francisco, CA | 11/16/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Few people are familiar with this Bergman film--"Wild Strawberries," "The Seventh Seal," and "Persona" are better known--but this may very well be his best. The action takes place essentially in real time over just several hours on a winter afternoon, and every note is hit perfectly. Sven Nykvist's cinematography is superb, and the soundtrack (which, as I remember it, has no music at all) is devised to fit the atmosphere perfectly (in particular, the rushing stream in the suicide scene).There really is no one better than Bergman in addressing serious metaphysical issues while maintaining a sense of the mystery and ambiguity of human existence (except for Kieslowski, whose "Decalogue" and "Red/White/Blue" trilogy make an interesting counterpoint to Bergman's trilogy of "Through a Glass Darkly," "Winter Light," and "The Silence"). The film leaves many questions unanswered but affects the viewer long after it has been seen. Immensely depressing on the surface, it somehow confirms the value of human experience while at the same denying it."
Winter Light is outta-sight!
Bill W. Dalton | Santa Ana, CA USA | 05/31/2001
(4 out of 5 stars)

"I saw Winter Light in an "art" theater when it first played in the U.S. What I remember best about it was the absolutely stunning black-and-white cinematography! The image on the big screen was sparkling crisp and clear and the light on the snow and the rushing white water of the river almost hurt one's eyes! It was a beautiful job of film photography. I haven't seen this movie on TV or video, but I know that on a small screen this effect would be lost and only the story would be left.And the story is a typical Bergman tale of nihilism, in this case a small village parish priest has lost most of his congregation and his own faith, and is unable to deal with his own problems, let alone those of his flock. But he still carries on, an empty shell unwilling to leave the church and face the world, or the love of the woman who cares for him. Winter Light is remarkable mostly for the outstanding filmwork by cinematographer Sven Nykvist. Still, I'd like to see it again if and when it becomes available on DVD."