Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Through a Glass Darkly (1961)

Questions Without Answers

Bergman always does this—asks tons of questions about life and God but never even attempts to answer them. What's his point? None really. His photographic style of cinematography is interesting, and his very sparse use of music as well. He tends to use rooms to great advantage by leaving them sparsely furnished with wooden floors so that the sound is very lively in them. Every movement is heard, and this almost negates the need for musical enhancement in his films. Bergman has great style, and his questions about the world are substantive, but if a man has no answers and goes through life with no opinions, he best stay out of filmmaking.

There are some people of the low-brow liberal variety who won't like me stating the obvious, but Bergman is a highly overrated director/writer. His movies are very cold and lifeless.

Seance on a Wet Afternoon (1964)

Bryan Forbes' Best Film

Forbes also wrote this one (as he often did). It's hard to find any fault with this movie. You can't get much better than a film, not only written and directed by Forbes, but starring an unforgettable pairing in Kim Stanley and Richard Attenborough. Ms. Stanley didn't make too many movies, but this one is enough to show why she's often thought of as the best stage actress of the 20th century.

Just to tell a small bit of the story, it's about a woman and her husband who earn some money giving séances for people. It's unclear whether the husband, played by Attenborough, actually believes anything supernatural is going on, because as the story progresses, what does become clear is that his wife, played by Stanley, is having, or has already had, a serious break with reality.

A word of warning to those thinking this is a movie about the supernatural given the film's title—it is not, although some may see something of the supernatural in the wife's delusional mode of existence. The film is actually about something entirely different—the kidnapping of a young girl. Very suspensefully done from beginning to end.