Two estranged sisters, Ester and Anna, and Anna's 10-year-old son travel to the Central European country on the verge of war. Ester becomes seriously ill and the three of them move into a hotel in a small town called Timoka.
In the midst of a civil war, former violinists Jan and Eva Rosenberg, who have a tempestuous marriage, run a farm on a rural island. In spite of their best efforts to escape their homeland, the war impinges on every aspect of their lives.
A young woman, Karin, has recently returned to the family island after spending some time in a mental hospital. On the island with her is her lonely brother and kind, but increasingly desperate husband ('Max von Sydow'). They are joined by Karin's father ('Gunnar Björnstrand'), who is a world-traveling author that is estranged to his children. The film depicts how Karin's grip on reality slowly slips away and how the bonds between the family members are changing in light of this fact.Written by
absolutely touching and penetrating, tragic and sad
this is one of bergman's most serious and devastating, sometimes horribly depressing and (it's only flaw) a little too heavy handed for even the toughest and healthiest viewers. it is fascinating to watch bergman come to terms with the absence of god and man's tragic isolation in an indifferent universe through the art he uses like no one else could or does, the art of film. karin is a mentally disordered young woman, intensely loved by her family and well cared for but nonetheless subject to bouts of extreme madness and delusions of divinity that are so convincing and well performed as to be hard to watch (particularly the scene where she is convinced that a deity disguised as a spider is going to crawl out of a closet). although it ends on a semi hopeful note, the film's atmosphere is largely one of sterility, emotional dryness, impoverishment and despair. karin lives on an isolated island just as we inhabit a vast, incomprehensible universe that is essentially little but a doomed speck of dust in a monstrous cosmos that does not care. i think there can be little debate as to the correct interpretation of this movie, which is the utter void at the center of false human beliefs and illusions of happiness or omnipotence. order is a lie and religious belief is founded on deliberate self deception. a masterpiece of the most passionate artistry and integrity.
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