A masterpiece, one of Bergman's most lasting, influential and radiantly photographed. A timeless tale involving themes such as morality and religion, told through complex, subtlely understated emotions and relationships. Theatrical and stylised at times, Bergman manages to bring all the elements together to create a compelling drama both credible and visually captivating.
Bergman's first film with cinematographer Nykvist is a beautiful looking adaptation of a medieval Swedish ballad in which a father seeks revenge for the brutal rape and murder of his cherished daughter. Bergman was greatly influenced by Kurosawa at the time and the forest setting in which the crime takes place has echoes of Rashômon. The Great Swede considered the film a failure but he was wrong: it's a masterpiece..
An effective, luminescent revenge tragedy, but as a morality play it feels somewhat distant and most of it leaves me cold, other than Karin and the Boy, who share a bracingly honest, wide-open screen presence. Gorgeous and admirably thoughtful, but the disparate themes never gel and what could be a quietly harrowing experience feels merely like a quasi-historical intellectual exercise.
Why was she sent alone (ok she was with her maiden, but that's 0 protection)? At least 2-3 guards should have been with her. Is there an explanation in the book? How stupid can you be to try to sell the clothes of your victim to their parents? They knew their adress, she told them.The father was right to take matters into his own hands (I would've tortured them), but he went too far when he killed the innocent child.
Simple, unostentatious and actually not intellectually insulting, it is precisely for these reasons that this is easily Bergman’s solitary film of worth. Spirituality is wrestled with honestly through moral ambiguity of doubt and affirmation but not wielded into certain religious dogmas via abusive symbolism like the usual modus operandi. God is beyond feeble humanistic understanding, answering directly to no one.