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Ingmar Bergman's Cinema, 12: Through a Glass Darkly
SPECIFICATIONS
  • 1.37:1 Standard
  • Swedish PCM Mono
  • English subtitles
  • 1 Disc
FEATURES
  • Exploring the film: Video discussion with Ingmar Bergman biographer Peter Cowie
  • Interview from 2012 with actor Harriet Andersson
  • Introduction by Ingmar Bergman
  • Original theatrical trailer

Ingmar Bergman's Cinema, 12: Through a Glass Darkly

Blu-ray
Reviewed by: Chris Galloway

Directed By: Ingmar Bergman
1961 | 89 Minutes | Licensor: Svensk Filmindustri

Release Information
Blu-ray | MSRP: $299.95 | Series: The Criterion Collection
Sony Pictures Home Entertainment

Release Date: November 20, 2018
Review Date: October 5, 2019

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SYNOPSIS

In honor of Ingmar Bergman’s one hundredth birthday, the Criterion Collection is proud to present the most comprehensive collection of his films ever released on home video. One of the most revelatory voices to emerge from the postwar explosion of international art-house cinema, Bergman was a master storyteller who startled the world with his stark intensity and naked pursuit of the most profound metaphysical and spiritual questions. The struggles of faith and morality, the nature of dreams, and the agonies and ecstasies of human relationships—Bergman explored these subjects in films ranging from comedies whose lightness and complexity belie their brooding hearts to groundbreaking formal experiments and excruciatingly intimate explorations of family life.

Arranged as a film festival with opening and closing nights bookending double features and centerpieces, this selection spans six decades and thirty-nine films—including such celebrated classics as The Seventh Seal, Persona, and Fanny and Alexander alongside previously unavailable works like Dreams, The Rite, and Brink of Life. Accompanied by a 248-page book with essays on each program, as well as by more than thirty hours of supplemental features, Ingmar Bergman’s Cinema traces themes and images across Bergman’s career, blazing trails through the master’s unequaled body of work for longtime fans and newcomers alike.


PICTURE

Continuing on through Criterion’s box set Ingmar Bergman’s Cinema, disc 12 presents the first film in Bergman’s Trilogy, Through a Glass Darkly. The film is presented on this dual-layer disc in its original aspect ratio of 1.37:1. The 1080p/24hz high-definition presentation is taken from a 2K restoration, scanned from a 35mm interpositive.

Criterion released the Trilogy on Blu-ray recently, upgrading their DVD set. The presentations found in that Blu-ray set used the same masters found here so the presentations, unsurprisingly, looks the same. From the review for that set’s disc:

[In comparison to the old DVD] definition is far better, as one would hope, the image looking razor sharp from beginning to end, allowing for an astounding level of detail in long shots, even in the darker shots in the boat near the end of the film. This improvement in detail over the DVD is notable in the close-up shots when von Sydow’s sweater is in view, the woven pattern appearing much sharper and clearer, where you can even make out the individual threads, which all comes off far more limited and fuzzier on the DVD thanks to its compression.

Black levels and contrast also look better, blacks looking inky without destroying shadow detail. The gray levels transition smoothly as well, giving the picture a more photographic look (aided by the fine film grain that is rendered gorgeously). Restoration work has also cleaned up most of the damage that remained on the DVD, including a slight flicker that could pop up in places, along with a number of marks and scratches. There are still a few bits of dirt that pop up here and there, which ends up sticking out because the film is spotless the rest of the time. There is also the appearance of stray hair on occasion. Those “issues” are easy to overlook, though, and the image comes out looking stunning.

8/10

All Blu-ray screen captures come from the source disc and have been shrunk from 1920x1080 to 900x506 and slightly compressed to conserve space. While they are not exact representations they should offer a general idea of overall video quality.

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AUDIO

Like the original DVD release and the box set Blu-ray release, the film yet again comes with two audio tracks: the original Swedish in lossless PCM 1.0 mono, and the English dub, presented in Dolby Digital 1.0 mono. The Swedish track sounds the better of the two, cleaner with less noticeable distortion, and range is actually decent. The English track sounds to be the same one found on the original DVD, coming off flat and weak, with some noticeable noise and edginess. I prefer the Swedish track in the end but as far as English dubs go it’s not bad.

6/10

SUPPLEMENTS

I was expecting this disc to be the same as what was found in the Trilogy box set but much to my surprise it’s missing a couple of features found in that edition. Things still start out with 2003 introduction recorded with Bergman by filmmaker Marie Nyeröd while making Bergman Island. Introductions were recorded around this time for television airings of his films and Criterion has been including them on their reissues and new editions for Bergman’s films since. This simple 2-minute one differs from the others (which usually feature the two in a screening room) and primarily features Nyeröd talking about Faro Island and it being featured in Through a Glass Darkly, before it then jumps quickly to the screening room.

Making its way over from the DVD yet again is a 2003 interview with film scholar Peter Cowie, who is a regular on most of Criterion’s Bergman releases. During this 11-minute segment Cowie explains why this film and the two films that follow in this set (Winter Light and The Silence) are considered to be all part of a trilogy, linked by their religious themes (though he admits Through a Glass Darkly doesn’t get even remotely religious until closer to the end). He also talks about how Bergman’s style changed with this film, which led to a drop in the box office. It’s not terribly in-depth (a commentary from Cowie would have been very welcome) but as an introduction to the trilogy you could do a lot worse.

Cowie is the followed with an excerpt from a 2012 interview with actor Harriet Andersson, filmed at the Midnight Sun Film Festival in Sodankylä, Finland, where she first jokes about how she was married to a farmer at the time (which she figures is hard for some to imagine) before talking about coming on board to do Through a Glass Darkly. It’s a fun conversation and she has a couple of good stories, including an amusing one about how her stomach wouldn’t stop gurgling during one scene. It runs 8-minutes with some behind-the-scene footage and clips from the film.

The disc then closes with the film’s American trailer. The set’s included 247-page book also features the same essay by Catherine Wheatley, covering the trilogy.

They’re a good set of features but the disc is oddly missing material that was found on the box set’s disc: two audio interviews, including one with Sven Nykvist and the other with Gunnar Bjornstrand. The Nykvist interview can be found on the last disc of this set, but I don’t see (or at the very least, come across) the Bjornstrand interview listed anywhere else. It was a good interview with the actor, so it’s a bit of a shame if it’s not to be found here.

6/10

CLOSING

Missing a couple of features that can be found on the individual box set’s disc (though one of them can at least be found elsewhere in this set) it’s a fine disc for the film, delivering a sharp looking presentation.




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Purchase From:
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