It's really quite a shame that this movie didn't work. It's so Shakespearean! The first 4/5ths is quite good. The ending seems tacked on later as almost an afterthought. Seems like someone from Hollywood came in and threw together a happy ending. Of course he made another run at similar material with 'The Rite', which is surprisingly daring and good for a TV movie.
A fantasist, convincing and slightly subversive evil-ish, weird comedy. Ingrid Thulin is extraordinary, as usual and Max Von Sydow is colder and more enigmatic than ever. Bring things close to his movie The Devil's eye with the add of scarily mesmerist cinematic influence from Dr Mabuse and stuffs from Browning.
Bergman lends to film a somewhat abstract visual reproduction of classical theatre. His consistent retelling of quiet female suffering, and a deep-seated fear of the fool [whether due to his classical style or autobiography] might fall short if it weren't for his excellent directing skills. Overall, in the context of the rest of his work, I'd say this is the best.
This is about how science, in its effort to search for the truth everywhere, can go too far. Sometimes it even pushes itself to prove art could be fraud, to the point of making fun of it. But here, for eight minutes, in the same way as in many classic gothic 'horrors', it's an artist's magic itself that provides an accordingly comic 'means' to deliver the humiliating offender his deserved nemesis
One of his best from his early period. "I've prayed one prayer in my life: Use me, Oh God! But He never understood what a devoted slave I'd have been. So I was never used... But that too is a lie. Step by step you go into the dark. The movement itself is the only truth."