Monday, November 26, 2018

THROUGH A GLASS DARKLY (Ingmar Bergman, 1961, Sweden)

On which side of the darkened glass does Karin stand? Is she trapped forever in the spidery murk, the crippled light of hope a taunting reminder of her temporary lucidity; or does she exists in a light that is only sometimes eclipsed by her shadowy fugues? Karin is a shipwreck whose damaged empty hull offers little respite from the coming storm, where her vexing sexuality seeks to destroy her brother: a god’s incestuous love like that of a Black Widow who eats her mate.

Director Ingmar Bergman seeks the inner demons through his four characters that stumble precariously upon the rocky shores of faith, surrounded by the pounding surf, like the slow timeless erosion of the human spirit. Karin is suffering from a sever mental illness while her father David uses her disability as a crutch for his own creativity, his alchemical intent to purify her anguish and transform it into literary gold. His son Minus subtracts from the family, a burgeoning playwright whose own attic is obscured by metaphysical cobwebs; he is a young man who desperately need a father’s love. And Martin is Karin’s faithful husband, his tremulous grip upon hope for his wife’s recovery slipping away in a quicksilver flash of lightening, and the thrum of a gasoline powered deity.

Karin crosses the nebulous boundaries between worlds, the thin peeling wallpaper separating her from god’s presence, and in a dilapidated forgotten room she experiences a true psychotic epiphany. She finally chooses her world and is taken away while David and Minus gaze over the ocean’s cold horizon: David speaks of god as true love, an abstract ethereal concept that infuses creation with false hope…while Minus is only concerned that “Papa spoke to me”. All have chosen and become lost in their own tiny worlds.

Final Grade: (A)

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