I sat on the rough rock staring out onto the ocean. The sun warmed by face, arms, and legs as a light breeze caressed my face. The waves were calm as they pressed up against the rocks, the ebb and flow was peaceful. I looked at the rock I was sitting on and pondered the small crevices and the crabs hiding within them. There was and still is something very unique about the ocean and the beaches its water washes up on. At times it can be harsh and violent yet at others so peaceful and soft. It is a place of mystery.
The waves, the water, and the rock combined reminded me that I wasn’t the only one whose mind had been drawn to this natural mystery. This section of the world also intrigued Ingmar Bergman it seems. This is evident by the numerous ocean and beach settings within his works. As I sat on that rock that sunny Sunday afternoon I pondered the different images of the shore Bergman evoked and what they meant for him, for me, and for the films they are apart of.
What is it about the beaches of Ingmar Bergman?
Persona on the surface (there are many, many layers) is about two women: an actress who has ceased speaking and the young nurse who is charged to take care of her. As a form of therapy the nurse takes the actress to an isolated beach cottage in hopes that she will regain her voice. They don’t go to the mountains nor do they journey to the desert. No, Bergman sends his two female protagonists to the beach.
It’s rocky, jagged, and pointed. The stormy weather leaves puddles everywhere. It is a devastating wasteland. In the most telling scene the nurse wonders out loud to her patient if life has any purpose. While describing existence without meaning Bergman cuts away from the two women and shows the audience images of the barren beach using it as a visual metaphor for existence. By taking a place and stripping it of not only its preconceived beauty, but also of its basic meaning Bergman has given the viewer insight into the meaning of this demanding film.
Through a Glass Darkly is the first film in Ingmar Bergman’s unofficial trilogy of faith. Each of the films have very distinctive settings: Winter Light is set in a small isolated village while The Silence is set in a maze-esque hotel. Through a Glass Darkly takes place on an island surrounded by rocky beaches; there is no sand to be found here either…..