Tomas Ericsson (Bjornstrand), the pastor of a nearly-empty little church in rural Sweden, performs the service although he has a cold and is undergoing a serious crisis of faith. Later he tries to counsel a suicidal fisherman, Jonas Persson (Von Sydow), but can hardly get beyond his own tortured feelings about life. A spinster schoolteacher named Marta (Thulin) offers Tomas her love to console him for his loss of faith, but he cannot accept it, and shoulders on with his daily tasks. Writer-director Ingmar Bergman presents an austere and minimal tale that is bleak, simple, yet taut with frustrated energy. Less accessible than some of his more famous movies, this 1963 study of desperation and depression is nevertheless powerful and rewarding for those with the patience to meet it on its terms.
This report prepared by David Loftus