Honestly, it took two films on the 1001 list before I stumbled into another one that featured incest as a plot point. I know that, when posting about Before the Revolution, I said I would rage quit the next time it happened, but this is a Bergman film and I was enjoying it too much to let some off-screen incest make me reach for the remote. Also, at least this film doesn’t feature an slalom for the director as one of the incestees – so I guess that’s progress?
I don’t know if I have ever watched a Bergman film and found it an enjoyable experience. I find them moving, challenging or profoundly interesting, but I cannot say that I’ve come across a film of his that I could label as fun. Through A Glass Darkly continues this run with an evocative and engaging look at mental illness – specifically a woman with schizophrenia and how her husband, father and brother deal with their own demons in relation to her.
Starting out, we know that many of the relationships are strained. Some because of Karin’s schizophrenia and others because of the father’s inability to form emotional connections with those around him. By the end, Karin’s had a complete relapse leaving her father and somewhat ignored brother left to ponder the meaning of life and the existence of God if such things are allowed to happen. It’s heavy stuff, but Bergman gives us hope through the final words of the film “Papa spoke to me”.
As with all Bergman films, Through a Glass Darkly is beautifully directed and is able to be incredibly thoughtful whilst dealing with some exceedingly dark topics. He also gets brilliant performances from the central four actors, especially Harriet Andersson whose descent during the 90 minutes is fascinating and heart-breaking. There’s also a lot of subtle nods to family histories which only hit you after the film has finished, which just goes to show how much this film can make you think.
The next time I’ll be watching a 1001 film will be on the flight to Hong Kong (assuming there’s no travel warning put up between now and then). I really hope it’s going to be an incest-free movie, but with a title like The Quiet Man I don’t know what to expect anymore.