Cinema: Birth of a Dark Hope

Through a Glass Darkly (Svensk Filmindustri; Janus) is one of the best and certainly the ripest of Ingmar Bergman's creations, a film as subtle as Wild Strawberries but solider in substance—the first film in which Bergman creates a hero who can love and characters for whom the spectator cannot help but care. "The other pictures I have made," says Bergman, "have been only études. This is Opus I."

Bergman's Opus I is constructed conscientiously as a quartet, a thematic analysis of four lives. The lives are those of a well-known novelist (Gunnar Bjornstrand), his...

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