Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBB.
Original title: Nattvardsgasterna
Sweden, 1963. Svensk Filmindustri. Screenplay by Ingmar Bergman. Cinematography by Sven Nykvist. Produced by Allan Ekelund. Music by Evald Andersson. Production Design by P.A. Lundgren. Costume Design by Mago. Film Editing by Ulla Ryghe. National Board of Review Awards 1963.
‘Yes Ingmar, it’s a masterpiece,’ Bergman’s then-wife Kabi Laretei told her husband, ‘But it’s a dreary masterpiece.’ No better description could be made of the second in the Swedish auteur’s ‘faith’ trilogy, preceded by Through A Glass Darkly and completed by The Silence. Gunnar Björnstrand is solid as a priest whose conversation with a monumentally depressed fisherman (Max von Sydow) forces him to face a crisis of faith in which he realizes that his vocation was inspired by a desire to please his family, not a firm belief in God. Ingrid Thulin gives an earth-shattering performance as the lonely woman with whom he was once in love but has now abandoned despite her desperate attempts to have him love her again. Gritty, textured photography and the usual excellent dialogue that only Bergman can write (theatrical yet never pretentious), but while it is a sobering and enlightening experience, it’s never a pleasant one (not even for fans of the sobering, enlightening dramas that Bergman often made).