[Rough Draft]

A weblog about god, doubt, insomnia, culture, baseball

5.11.2004

2nd of three

just watched winter light, the second film in bergman's faith trilogy (the 3rd's on my coffee table) that i talked about in an earlier post. i was too verbose in my review of the first film, which i thought was technically, aesthetically and narratively superior to this one, but never let it be said that i don't finish what i start!

the story is that of a lutheran minister in a remote swedish village who is losing his faith @ an exponentially increasing rate. his wife's death 4 years earlier started the decline (although one scene intimates he always lacked the conviction of a minister and entered the profession only to please his parents), and the suicide of a parishioner sends the minister off the precipice. allusions to jesus and to his crucifixion abound. the minister accuses god of forsaking him; as an imdb commenter noted, the movie occurs b/tw noon and 3, the hours of the crucifixion, on frostmas; and the minister's lover, marta, recounts a rash on her hands which calls to mind stigmata. interestingly, marta, who bears the stigmata of sorts, is an atheist, although she prays for the minister; the minister himself almost never prays except to castigate god for his silence or some other perceived slight.

i'll just mention one thing that i think the film implied, although it's the "faith lost" leg of the trilogy. marta offers so much to the minister, but he is blind to god's gift in the relationship. the parishioner who shoots himself is terrified by the prospect of the chinese developing nuclear weapons, and he misses god's gifts of a loving wife, three children and another on the way. w/ the exception of one member of the cast -- the sexton, whose faith is in many ways much more real than the pastor's -- none of the characters apprehend god in and among themselves in this remote stone church. they haven't the eyes to see the "splendor in the ordinary," to steal a phrase from tom howard's book of that title. and this is a danger for us 40 years later, as well. god meets us in the guise of strangers, family, friends, even cats (my own idiosyncratic theology, i'm quite sure), but we so seldom are awake to the thrill of it all, this everyday life of ours. in a world suffused with grace, we still cry out for meaning and revel in our blindness. bergman's film shows us how isolated and bereft of feeling we can become when we look for god in all the wrong places, as he is, all the while, right in front of us.

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