Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBB.
Original title: Sasom I En Spegel
Sweden, 1961. Svensk Filmindustri. Screenplay by Ingmar Bergman. Cinematography by Sven Nykvist. Produced by Allan Ekelund. Music by Erik Nordgren. Production Design by P.A. Lundgren. Costume Design by Mago. Film Editing by Ulla Ryghe.
Four characters deal with God, love and insanity on a remote Swedish island in this pristinely beautiful film by Ingmar Bergman, his second of three films to win him the Academy Award for Best Foreign-Language Film. Harriet Andersson is superb as a young woman recovering from a nervous breakdown, terrified that she will have a relapse that will confirm her doctor’s diagnosis of incurable schizophrenia. Her husband (Max von Sydow) does his best to be patient and provide her with care, but she is pushed over the edge when she finds out that her father (Gunnar Björnstrand) has been using her illness as fodder for his latest novel. Meanwhile, her younger brother (Lars Passgård) is struggling with adolescent angst and unable to get through to his father because of his sister’s madness taking centre stage in the family’s collection of dysfunctions. Bergman’s writing and direction are as solid and confident as they would ever be, but for some reason the characters never really pierce the surface the way they do in later films such as Persona and Autumn Sonata. An intelligent and worthy film that is entertaining as drama but never fully convinces you to care about its subjects, it is mostly rewarding for Sven Nykvist’s magnificent camerawork. The gorgeous island it is filmed on eventually became Bergman’s home where he lived until his death.
The Criterion Collection: #209
Berlin Film Festival: In Competition