Luxuriantly ashen, with a set design that (inadvertently, I would assume!) honours Poe's 'Philosophy of Furniture'. Worth watching with headphones to give the experience the intimacy of a radio play. Having watched 'Summer with Monika' just the other month, I found it distressing to see Harriet Andersson, who is remarkable here, so cadaverous and wan - but gladdened to find she is now a happy healthy octogenarian!
Bergman was an absolute genius that could turn his hand to anything and make it important, while at the same time we are able to call this cinema. In this film, there are uncomfortable scenes and a burgeoning tension throughout, but his genius is in showing us something real without ever throwing us out into the wilderness. As long as you allow yourself to be transported by a film, then no one beats Bergman's vision.
From the image of three white-clad women in the red room whispering, Bergman constructs a painful, fascinating and beautiful reflection on death. On the physical and biological disappearance of the human being. A great and disturbing film that never ends with indifference, either for its formal beauty or for the timeless richness of its theme, served by a portentous cast.
There’s a lot of suffering and pain and all that, but what I remember the most is a particular tracking shot nearing the end of the film that could be in contention for one of Bergman’s immortal moments. It’s hard to put into words, but it’s the maid walking to the dead sister’s bedroom, and it is so shockingly composed and silently human that it awes completely.