They chart a cycle of thought and reaction to the Atomic Age, of desire for complete retreat within the artistic psyche, the terrors within that psyche, and the effect of finally being unshelled and destroyed by a violent world.
Each film centers on an artist who has retreated from the world.
Here, Alma learns, or rather fails to learn, that Elisabeth’s enigmatic silence offers a mirror that can seem both infinitely open and endlessly malevolent; Alma can write anything she wants onto eternally attentive features, but finds they sink like stones in a pool.
Bergman fills the film with framings that feature reflections in mirrors and lakes.
Bergman intercuts between the two women packing to leave, but only Alma actually gets on board the bus to go.
The film breaks down again, returning to boom cranes, cameras, and a fading arc light.
In could be Bergman’s most aggressively abstract film.
Essentially, nothing happens, and yet a lot seems to go on.
In the night, Alma awakens from a terrible dream to the sound of someone calling Elisabeth’s name; this proves to be Elisabeth’s husband (Günnar Bjornstrand) who’s blind, and thinks Alma is Elisabeth.
Ingmar Bergman’s death last week was an event that swept with unusual speed and prominence through the news services.
Yet, the bleakly amusing thing about many of the commentaries on his passing was the statement, or confession, by many critics of his rapidly fading importance.
Moments of sexually charged intensity are rife between them.
One night, Elisabeth comes into Alma’s room and embraces her, caressing her hair as they gaze at themselves in a mirror.
She leaves a shard of glass for Elisabeth to walk on.