Saturday, August 6, 2011
Bergman Trilogy 1 - Winter Light
I wish I could explain my relationship with Bergman and his films. I really like them after while I watch them, and I really like thinking about them afterward. I often don't want to start watching them, though, and I sometimes don't want to write about them at all. It makes me feel like I dislike something about Bergman, but who knows what. I obviously like him, though. I have some sort of Bergman...problem.
Winter Light, which he directed in 1963. I quite liked it - the cinematography was a little more complex and interesting, and it was done very well. The story is interesting as well. I'm not sure why I so like Bergman's films that explore and question religion so much. I'm not a religious person, and perhaps his harsh investigations into religion ring true to me. I always find myself really interested in some of the observations that come out of these movies, and this one was no exception.
A summary from IMDB, since I've got another Bergman post to do: "On a cold winter's Sunday, the pastor of a small rural church (Tomas Ericsson) performs service for a tiny congregation; though he is suffering from a cold and a severe crisis of faith. After the service, he attempts to console a fisherman (Jonas Persson) who is tormented by anxiety, but Tomas can only speak about his own troubled relationship with God. A school teacher (Maerta Lundberg) offers Tomas her love as consolation for his loss of faith. But Tomas resists her love as desperately as she offers it to him."
I think a plot about people struggling with their faith could be sort of boring, but Bergman handles it really well and makes it really interesting. I like that it is about the silence of God, but also about the silence between the characters, as well. It makes the movie more complex and gives the characters more depth. It also makes their feelings about religion more interesting, because I sort of was wondering if some of them were projecting their general unhappiness onto their religion. God is silent to them only because of the silent people they are in relationships with - if they are being rejected by others, maybe they perceived that God was rejecting them as well.
The cinematography was amazing. There is one difficult scene, one unbroken shot, where Marta, for six minutes, reads aloud a letter that she wrote. Ebert says that it has the potential to become dull, which is true. However, it never does - we get that Bergman is studying her face, that her emotions and expression are interesting enough. It's so...human. I loved the sense of intimacy it created, as well. and it really added a lot to the letter she was reading. It would be expected and dull to hear a Marta do a voiceover as the letter is read, but to see her emotions and facial expression is much more powerful. The whole film just looks great. It's really full of closeups, focusing on people's emotions and thoughts, and to me, showing the sort of cluttered and claustrophobic feeling of their stress.
I thought this was a really thought-provoking movie, and I really liked it. For some reason I always find Bergman's religious observations to be really interesting. Someone shares their feelings on how much Christ suffered emotionally. Another observes that if we deny the existence of God, it makes cruelty easier to explain. They're just...interesting. I don't know, I just really enjoy them, and I can't quite place why. Maybe I find them unique, or they gave a voice to something that is hard to put into words. I don't know, I just like it.
Ebert's Great Movie Essay on Winter Light
Buy it on Amazon