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284 MOVIES (released titles only)

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Queue Numbers

#50- Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown

#100- Black Swan

#200- Mysteries of Lisbon

Last- Once Upon a Time in Anatolia

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Winter Light

Winter Light (1963)
Written and Directed by Ingmar Bergman
Starring Gunnar Björnstrand, Ingrid Thulin, Max von Sydow

A day in the life of a disillusioned pastor, set in the icy cold of Sweeden

This was an incredibly beautiful movie.  I'm glad that my woman didn't watch this because it represents everything she hates about these sorts of films.  It's slow, deliberate, and very little happens.  It's not like an Italian movie in that way, exactly, but it's got a small cast of characters doing largely mundane things based on outside influences which aren't entirely under their control.

One of the scales on which I judge a foreign film is how completely it causes me to forget that it's in a foreign language, how easily the subtitles become dialog.  The acting alone is enough to keep the viewer riveted to the words; from the perspective of engagement everything else is a bonus. All the principles live these parts in what's an incredible example of naturalism.  Björnstrand and Thulin are pretty equal in terms of establishing a level of gravitas which is well deserved.

From the perspective of art there's a lot more on display here.  The stark beauty of the scenery is crucial to a good emotional understanding of the characters, and we get all that in droves.  Bergman puts the camera in all sorts of interesting places, looking up at the communion wafer, looking through the trees at a river.  He lingers on a painful face just long enough, then too long, then longer still, then the pain is almost shared.

Watching this movie need not be an exercise merely for completists.  It's a beautiful piece of cinema.

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