Monday, March 19, 2007

Bergman is Dead.

OF "Winter Light", its Director, Ingemar Bergman says that one of the meanings of the film is "that at all costs one must do what it is one's duty to do, even if it can seem meaningless." This dreary film, referred to as a masterpiece, is elusive. Its simple storyline is sodden and pondering. Bergman seems to confirm his film's meaning about persisting, by finishing this film in the face of so much meaninglessness.

So goes the seventh of twelve films in the Monday night Bergman film retrospective at the Charles Theater! This one was not over soon enough. So far it is the only unsatisfying film in the series for me.

Bergman has told us at other times that where there's love then there's God. I think of the Seventh Seal, where the man and woman proceed through the frightening woods in their fragile wagon, trusting themselves to each other's love. The winds howl, creatures lurk, they are afraid and nearly blown away, but they come out on the other side of the forest at peace and more surely in love.

So in "Winter's Night" we have Marta's declared love, which Tomas, the Pastor, cruelly rejects. It is seemingly a love that is just not enough. Then there is Jonas (gorgeous Max von Sydow), severely depressed, who agrees to seek Thomas' counsel, only to be assured by Thomas that god is, er, sort of dead. Fortified with these words, Jonas leaves the pastor and kills himself at a river's edge. After helping load the dead body into a vehicle for removal, Tomas returns to his church and begins his regular service. Agony.

The film does not hint of light at any time. All is dark, gray. cold. One must imagine what winter light could be.

The filmmaker, Sergio Trasatti, points out how "Tomas can't accept Marta's love and he cannot save Jonas' life because he can't give love to them; and this lack of love is the real silence of God".


(click on pictures to enlarge them)

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