This blog has since 2006 to provide resources for Bible teaching and study, a forum for the arts of writing and film, and a space for ranting about politics. Barbara G. Tucker is the mind and heart behind this blog and solely responsible for the content, which
does not reflect the views or mission of her employer, church, or affiliations. She has many personal (wife and mom to start with) and professional roles (related to higher education and writing.) Enjoy and participate.
Autumn Sonata, Ingmar Bergman film
Today was Ingrid Bergman day on TCM,
and she made one film with Ingmar Bergman, Autumn Sonata, which was shown
earlier this evening.This is film at
its best, one to watch over and over except not at close intervals because the
emotion is so raw and real.
My husband asked me if that was common
between mothers and daughters.I said
some, but not most.I don’t think that
is the point, that this is a microcosm of all mothers and daughters.It’s about this one, a “selfish” woman
(subjective) who put her career as a classical pianist on tour before being at
home with her children, one of whom is disabled in some way (the disease is so
vaguely portrayed that it comes across metaphorical rather than real).The other adult daughter is suffering from
grief (from death of child), depression, anxiety, and some deep abandonment
from her mother that she interprets as hate.I am not sure it really is hate, though.She wants her mother’s love and maybe her mother to suffer to, as if
another person’s suffering would make right, wash away, or redeem our own.
In the end, the daughter writes a letter
to the mother asking forgiveness for unloading her “hatred” on her(in what is the central scene of the movie)
during a visit by her mother.She says
something profound that made me pause and think hard and feel even harder.
“The important thing in life is to take
care of each other . . . . I will never let you vanish out of my life again.
I'm going to persist. I won't give up, even if it is too late. I don't think it
is too late. It must not be too late.”
I was reminded of a hero of mine,
HenriNouwen, a theologian and scholar
who left public and successful ministry to take care of the disabled in a
community in Ontario.
More than a totally realistic portrayal
of a mother and daughter, I see the film as an exploration of how deeply we can
be hurt, beyond rationality, by our parents but also how pain is not always an
outside force that impinges upon us without our own complicity and our own
enlargement of it.The daughter did not,
in her cruel diatribe against her mother, take any responsibility for her own
unhappiness; she framed herself as a total victim, and doing so closes us off
completely from recovering, control, forgiveness, and freedom.
On of the posters on IMDB called it
misogynistic dreck because the women actors were “forced” to say lines that
portrayed female stereotypes of the depressed, meek daughter under her
patriarchal father and husband pitted against the career woman b----
mother.It’s an interesting take, except
that the actresses could have said no to the script (rather than being forced,
which makes a director sound like a rapist), and seeing them as archetypes
rather than particulars is unnecessary.
And of course the acting is
superb.Ingrid Bergman always had such
an expressive face, so sensitive and malleable to the emotion.I don’t think any other female actor had such
a face for emotion.
I hope to watch more Bergman’s, having
only seen The Seventh Seal (a
while back and not understanding it!), Wild
Strawberries (brilliant) and this one.
Addendum: I also watched the Passion of Anna or just Passion. It was not as touching to me and I didn't connect with the characters.
How's that for a title? Thought it might get some hits. However, this post is dead serious. Last night I taught, for the first time, this fascinating "tale," which might be called an allegory. I taught it in conjunction with "A Good Man is Hard to Find" by Flannery O'Connor. Both must be read in light of the Christian world view or metanarrative, that of perfect creation, fall, redemption through Christ, and an eventual return to a perfect creation. As I told my students, different churches interpret that sequence differently but all hold to the same basic sequence.
But of course, they are very different stories. "Young Goodman Brown" is set in the Puritan landscape and more specifically in Salem. This is not just any New England town in the 17th century, but the site of the hysteria and hypocrisy of the witch trials, a time engrained into American consciousness especially through The Crucible and the McCarthy times. (These are, of course,…