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SPECIFICATIONS
  • 1.33:1 Standard
  • English Dolby Digital 1.0 Mono
  • Swedish Dolby Digital 1.0 Mono
  • English subtitles
  • 1 Disc
FEATURES
  • Exploring the film: Video discussion with Ingmar Bergman biographer Peter Cowie
  • New essay by film scholar Peter Matthews
  • Original theatrical trailer
  • Optional English-dubbed soundtrack

Through a Glass Darkly


Reviewed by: Chris Galloway

Directed By: Ingmar Bergman
Starring: Harriet Andersson, Gunnar Björnstrand, Max von Sydow, Lars Passgård
1961 | 89 Minutes | Licensor: Svensk Filmindustri

Release Information
DVD | MSRP: $79.95 | Series: The Criterion Collection | Edition: #209
RLJ Entertainment

Release Date: August 19, 2003
Review Date: June 4, 2019

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SYNOPSIS

While vacationing on a remote island retreat, a family's already fragile ties are tested when daughter Karin (Harriet Andersson) discovers her father has been using her schizophrenia for his own literary means. As she drifts in and out of lucidity, the father (Gunnar Björnstrand), along with Karin's husband (Max von Sydow) and her younger brother (Lars Passgård) are unable to prevent Karin's harrowing descent into the abyss of mental illness. Winner of the 1962 Academy Award® for Best Foreign Language Film and featuring an astonishing lead performance by Andersson, Through a Glass Darkly presents an unflinching vision of a family's near-disintegration and a tortured psyche further taunted by God's intangible presence.

Forum members rate this film 8.5/10

 

Discuss the film and DVD here   


PICTURE

The Criterion Collection presents Ingmar Bergman’s Through a Glass Darkly on DVD in the aspect ratio of 1.33:1 on a dual-layer disc. Because of the aspect ratio the image has not been enhanced for widescreen televisions. Released in 2003, the presentation was taken from a then-new high-definition restoration, scanned from a 35mm fine-grain master positive. It is available exclusively in the four-disc box set A Film Trilogy by Ingmar Bergman.

This is another one of Criterion’s DVD titles that has held up incredibly well over the years. Some problems are a bit more evident, but I have to say even when upscaled the picture still looks pretty striking. Detail is especially good, managing to do an okay job delivering textures along with the finer points in long shots. A dark sequence that takes place in the underneath of an shipwrecked boat near the end of the film does well in regards of shadow delineation, and the blacks manage to come off rich and inky without crushing out the details.

Compression is nicely managed, though watching it again I could see more obvious noise in the tight woven pattern of von Sydow’s sweater in some shots. Still, it’s clean and not distractingly noisy. The source is also in great shape, with very little in the way of damage remaining, mostly a few stray bits and some scratches, along with some mild fluctuations. Though the new Blu-ray still offers a substantial improvement, the DVD really did an exceptional looking image at the time that still looks pretty damn good today.

7/10

All DVD screen captures are presented in their original size from the source disc. Images have been compressed slightly to conserve space. While they are not exact representations they should offer a general idea of overall video quality.

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AUDIO

Criterion presents the film with two Dolby Digital 1.0 mono audio tracks: the film’s original Swedish track and then an optional English-dubbed track. The Swedish track is the better one of the two, sounding to have been polished up a little more. It sounds clear, is free of distortion, and showcases some decent fidelity. The English track is a bit edgier and has noticeable background noise. Some moments featuring screaming/yelling sound particularly harsh. As an English dub, though, it’s not too bad, and does, for the most part, feel organic to the film.

Of the two the Swedish track is the better one and it’s the one most will probably stick with anyways.

6/10

SUPPLEMENTS

Though part of lovely looking set, the release overall was a bit underwhelming thanks to a scant collection of supplements. Each title in the set received a couple of extras and then an insert. The big feature on Through a Glass Darkly (and the other titles in the set, Winter Light and The Silence) is an interview with film scholar Peter Cowie, who is a regular on most of Criterion’s Bergman releases. During this 11-minute segment Cowie explains why this film and the two other films in this set are considered to be all part of a trilogy, linked by their religious themes (though he admits Through a Glass Darkly doesn’t get even remotely religious until closer to the end). He also talks about how Bergman’s style changed with this film, which led to a drop in the box office. It’s not terribly in-depth (a commentary from Cowie would have been very welcome) but as an introduction to the trilogy you could do a lot worse.

After this the disc then closes with the American Janus trailer. Each film in the set also receives their own individual insert, this one featuring an essay on Through a Glass Darkly by Peter Matthews, along with a short introduction to the trilogy that also features quotes from Bergman.

Though Cowie’s contribution to this set is appreciated I’ve always felt underwhelmed by it as a whole, and each individual title, and coming back to it I’m still surprised how scant this thing is overall.

3/10

CLOSING

Solid standard-definition presentation that still holds up well, but the lack of significant supplementary material make this title (and the set as a whole) feel underwhelming.


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