A movie log formerly known as Bookishness / By Charles Matthews

"Dazzled by so many and such marvelous inventions, the people of Macondo ... became indignant over the living images that the prosperous merchant Bruno Crespi projected in the theater with the lion-head ticket windows, for a character who had died and was buried in one film and for whose misfortune tears had been shed would reappear alive and transformed into an Arab in the next one. The audience, who had paid two cents apiece to share the difficulties of the actors, would not tolerate that outlandish fraud and they broke up the seats. The mayor, at the urging of Bruno Crespi, explained in a proclamation that the cinema was a machine of illusions that did not merit the emotional outbursts of the audience. With that discouraging explanation many ... decided not to return to the movies, considering that they already had too many troubles of their own to weep over the acted-out misfortunes of imaginary beings."
--Gabriel García Márquez, One Hundred Years of Solitude

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Winter Light (Ingmar Bergman, 1963)

Tomas Ericsson: Gunnar Björnstrand
Märta Lundberg: Ingrid Thulin
Karin Persson: Gunnel Lindblom
Jonas Persson: Max von Sydow
Algot Frövik: Allan Edwall
Fredrik Blom: Olof Thunberg

Director: Ingmar Bergman
Screenplay: Ingmar Bergman
Cinematography: Sven Nykvist
Production design: P.A. Lundgren
Film editing: Ulla Ryghe

I have to admit that I was seduced into nostalgia by the opening of Winter Light, as the liturgy and communion service brought back memories of my Methodist childhood. But the mood vanished swiftly as the chill reality of the film took hold: The church is cold and nearly empty, most of its congregants brought there by necessity or duty. The pastor is a hypocrite with a head cold, unable to muster enough enthusiasm for his faith to keep a man who comes to him for counseling from blowing his head off with a shotgun or even to console his widow. His former mistress, the local schoolteacher, is as comfortable in her atheism as he is uneasy in his attempts to believe. It's Bergman at his bleakest, though paradoxically filled with a kind of existential affirmation. The message boils down to: Don't sweat the big stuff. That is, don't let theology get in the way of going on with your life. You can respond to this kind of message in three ways: With stubborn denial, with an exhilarated sense of liberation, or with a painful feeling of loss. Winter Light is a talky film, one that sometimes seems more fit for the stage than for the movies, but its characters are alive and complex, its performances uniformly superb, and its images -- supplied by the great Sven Nykvist -- sometimes even more articulate than its dialogue.

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