Movie Review – Winter Light

Posted: January 14, 2014 in Movie Reviews
Tags: ,

Bergman has this unique quality to make you tense while watching the movie. He did it to me while watching Persona and Wild Strawberries but when he makes movies on Christianity he goes to a whole new dimension. I’ve never been interested in religion but still seventh seal was stirring. There were so many interlinked stories, themes and allegories to look into. Winter lights was something I expected to be on that level. Having known that it’s one of the favorite movies of Tarkovsky I wanted to watch it immediately. But to my surprise it didn’t intrigue me. I didn’t want to put up a review as soon as I finished watching it so waited for a few days to think about it. When I look back now my opinion still remains the same. Not that I complain.


The length of the movie is 80 minutes and the movie happens in a time span of 3 hours. It’s an intense movie which requires immense concentration. Of the 80 minutes the first fifteen minutes goes in a prayer/service which happens in a single place. We get to know that it is going to be the story about the Pastor. Along with Pastor there are three to four characters who are around there. The only happy being is the music player. Rest all are either sad or depressed in one level or the other.

When Marta (Ingrid Thulin) enters to comfort a sad Tomas (Gunnar Björnstrand) I thought that she’s an illusion. No one looks at each other except the pastor. While all are stone faced only Marta shows some emotion, the same sad emotion but on a different level. That was the only confusion I had in the film but got clarified in a while.

The winter setting is quite harsh. It gets on you without giving a hint. The melancholy goes to a new level because of that setting. Whenever you see the snow you see it so close to you. Be it on a window pane or when it’s on the glass door of the car its always noticeable but without our knowing.

There are four main confrontations in the film, one with Marta, one with Jonas (Max Von Syndow), the suicide and the letter scene. I loved the one with Jonas. That was the one which had Bergman written all over it. Initially you see Tomas in close up then the camera focuses on Jonas too then Tomas moves away. And all this time the cropping is close and both of them are in focus. Don’t know how Bergman achieved this. That close cropping increases the intensity of the scene to a great level.

Similarly during the suicide scene you see people from a long distance which shows that the pastor is not actually interested in what happened and doesn’t exactly grieve for the death but is there just like any other day being distant from emotions. That’s how the intense turmoil of the pastor was shown in the film.


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