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The Ingmar Bergman Trilogy (Through a Glass Darkly / Winter Light / The Silence) (The Criterion Collection)

4.8 out of 5 stars 39 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

At the beginning of the 1960s, renowned film director Ingmar Bergman began work on what were to become some of his most powerful and representative works—the Trilogy. Already a figure of tremendous international acclaim for such masterworks as The Seventh Seal, Wild Strawberries, and The Virgin Spring, Bergman turned his back on the abundant symbolism and exotic imagery of his ‘50s work to focus on a series of impacted, emotionally explosive chamber dramas examining faith and alienation in the modern age. Utilizing a new cameraman—the incomparable Sven Nykvist—Bergman unleashed Through a Glass Darkly, Winter Light, and The Silence in rapid succession, exposing moviegoers worldwide to a new level of intellectual and emotional intensity. Each film employs minimal dialogue, eerily isolated settings, and searing performances from such Bergman regulars as Max von Sydow, Harriet Andersson, Gunnar Bjornstrand, Ingrid Thulin and Gunnel Lindblom in their evocation of a desperate world confronted with God’s desertion. Drawing on Bergman’s own severely religious upbringing and ensuing spiritual crisis, the films in the Trilogy are deeply personal, challenging, and enriching works that exhibit the filmmaker’s peerless formal mastery and fierce intelligence. The Criterion Collection is proud to present The Ingmar Bergman Trilogy: Through a Glass Darkly, Winter Light, and The Silence.


Between 1961 and 1963, Ingmar Bergman released a remarkable trilogy of so-called chamber dramas, each one concerned with the futility of sustaining faith in God, family, love, or much else. The series proved transitional for the internationally renowned Swedish filmmaker, securing his crucial collaboration with cinematographer Sven Nykvist (with whom Bergman would go on to make his many masterpieces--including Persona and Cries and Whispers--of the '60s, '70s, and early '80s), and underscoring a new preference for intimate, relationship-driven stories, austere settings, and haunting tones of emotional isolation and despair.

Through a Glass Darkly concerns a psychologically fragile woman, Karin (Harriet Andersson), who seeks recovery from a nervous breakdown while on a remote-island vacation with her family. Unfortunately, her father (Gunnar Björnstrand), a successful writer, regards her with clinical detachment, her husband (Max Von Sydow), a doctor, feels unavailing in the effort to treat her, and her brother (Lars Passgard) is wrapped up in his own quest for sexual fulfillment. Karin's descent into further loneliness and delusion exacerbates the heretofore unspoken alienation at the heart of this entire family, and drives the characters to brood over the existence of God (or, in Karin's case, imagine that God is the chilling spider hidden behind an attic door). Through a Glass Darkly is a heartbreaking, powerful work of art.

Winter Light reunites Björnstrand, this time playing a pastor suffering a crisis of faith while ministering to a shrinking congregation, and Von Sydow as a parishioner lost to acute anxiety over the possibility of a nuclear holocaust. Neither man can help or heal the other, or even inspire renewed confidence in practiced rituals and older, more certain views of the world. Set on a chilly, Sunday afternoon, Winter Light's heavy stillness, lack of music, preference for intense close-ups and distancing long shots, and barren setting all lead us inescapably into the core of a profound silence, an echo chamber in which love can't grow and religion rings hollow.

The Silence is the most abstract entry in the trilogy, a somewhat eerie story of two sisters, Esther (Ingrid Thulin) and Anna (Gunnel Lindblom), and the latter's son (Jörgen Lindström), all traveling by train to Sweden but forced to stay in a foreign country when Esther's chronic bronchial problems require her to rest. A stifling atmosphere, a desolate hotel, encounters with a troupe of carnival dwarves, Anna's anchoring illness, and an empty sexual encounter for Esther underscore the unnerving feeling that God has abandoned these characters to dubious salvation in their own connection. A highly memorable film. --Tom Keogh

Special Features

  • Includes the following films:
  • Through a Glass Darkly, 1961 (91 minutes)
  • Winter Light, 1962 (80 minutes)
  • The Silence, 1963 (95 minutes)
  • Ingmar Bergman Makes a Movie, 1963 (146 minutes) - a 5-part documentary produced by Swedish television detailing the making of Winter Light
  • New high-definition digital transfer of all films with restored image and sound
  • New video discussions with Bergman biographer Peter Cowie
  • Essays by film scholars
  • Poster gallery & trailers

Product Details

  • Actors: Harriet Andersson, Gunnar Björnstrand, Ingrid Thulin, Gunnel Lindblom, Birger Malmsten
  • Directors: Ingmar Bergman
  • Writers: Ingmar Bergman
  • Producers: Allan Ekelund
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Box set, Black & White, NTSC, Subtitled
  • Language: Swedish (Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono), English (Unknown)
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 4
  • Rated:
    Not Rated
  • Studio: Home Vision Entertainment
  • DVD Release Date: August 19, 2003
  • Run Time: 410 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (39 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0000A02TX
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #42,321 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "The Ingmar Bergman Trilogy (Through a Glass Darkly / Winter Light / The Silence) (The Criterion Collection)" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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While "The Seventh Seal," "Wild Strawberries," and "Cries and Whispers," are better known, Ingmar Bergman's "Trilogy," variously known as the "Faith Trilogy" or the "Chamber Film" trilogy, is for my money Ingmar Bergman's supreme achievement, approachable only by "Persona" and "Shame" later that decade. Casting a penetrating eye on the zeitgeist of the mid-Twentieth century and the concurrent loss of faith in traditional notions of authority and truth, Bergman created some of the most spellbinding works world cinema and the twentieth century ever produced.
It may be more fashionable now for film followers to say they prefer Bresson, Fassbinder, or von Trier--Bergman was so highly praised in the 1960s that it's almost chic to deride him these days--but "The Trilogy," particularly the second and third film in the set, remain unparalleled achievements. "Winter Light" and "The Silence" are breathtakingly dramatic, and, despite what you might have heard, not at all contingent upon an interest in Christian theology.
One of my close friends is a Muslim-raised atheist from Iran, and when I brought up "Winter Light" to him a month or so ago he said: "My God! That's one of the most intense films I've ever seen! You can't breath while you're watching it, it's so powerful!" He's right. And despite initial fears that this DVD edition would just reissue the previously released censored versions of these films, Criterion has happily gone back to Sweden and re-mastered the director's own, original cuts of each for this boxed set.
If you decide that you can only be bothered to own only the twenty best movies ever produced on DVDs, this set should count as one of the twenty. Von Trier, Kubrick, Dryer, Bresson, Kiarostami, Kurosawa, Ozu, Fassbinder, Renoir... None of them ever hit the heights Bergman achieved with "The Trilogy."
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I consider Bergman's work from this period (early 60s) to be among his finest, so I pre-ordered this set and have now watched all four (not three) DVDs. And I find that The Silence as presented here restores two of the Gunnel Lindblom-Birger Malmsten scenes, parts of which are absent from the Home Vision Cinema video, in case you were wondering.
For the uninitiated, the trilogy is heavy stuff. If you haven't seen any Bergman, you might want to start with the Criterion DVD of Wild Strawberries and go on from there. As for myself, I'm always amazed at the consistency of Bergman's vision, the depth of the performances here, the beauty of the writing and complete mastery of light and sound. The cinematographic compositions, especially in Through a Glass Darkly and The Silence, are frequently awe-inspiring.
The fourth DVD is entitled Ingmar Bergman Makes a Movie. It is a five-part documentary filmed by Vilgot Sjöman for Swedish television and it details the making of Winter Light, from beginning to end. Roughly 50% is made up of interviews with Bergman where he discusses the themes of the film, the challenges of bringing a completed script to the screen, his relationship and working methods with his cast and crew, and his reaction to critics (presumably Swedish) upon the film's premiere. The other 50% of the documentary shows Bergman and crew at work scouting locations, building the sets, selecting costumes for Ingrid Thulin and Gunnar Björnstrand, blocking, rehearsing and shooting an early scene in the film, later editing another scene, mixing the sound, then screening the finished product. It is an invaluable document for Bergman lovers and film students and I'm happy to have it in my collection.
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The three films in this box set represent some of the best of Ingmar Bergman's work in the 'chamber drama' format. As the director's interest in classical music grew, the art house scene saw more and more films from Bergman with just a few characters interacting within one location, like the instruments in a string quartet. In __Through a Glass Darkly__, __Winterlight (aka __The Communicants__), and __The Silence__, Bergman exorcises the spiritual demons of his childhood within a very modern, every-day context. The themes that he deals with are the same ones which drove such classics as __The Seventh Seal__ and __Wild Strawberries__; however, while such movies were theatrical and featured archetypical characters, the films in the trilogy (and most of Bergman's subsequent works) are realistic and feature psychologically nuanced and complex characters.
In __Through a Glass Darkly__, a vacationing family is forced to deal with its own disintegration. The daughter, Karin, played masterfully by Harriet Anderson, battles schizophrenia and attempts in vein to stay in touch with consensual reality, while her father David, played by the stoic Gunner Bjornstrand finds himself unable to resist the urge to use her illness as a means to drive his artistic and intellectual work as a novelist. Max von Sydow plays Karin's loving and simple husband, while her brother, Minus, played by Lars Pasgard, comes to represent the anxieties and insecurities of the family's next generation. This is a difficult film to watch. Emotionally, it is overwhelming (though Bergman never strays too far from his characteristic subtlety).
The next offering in the trilogy is __Winterlight__.
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