Unforgettable Scenes #4: “We find it difficult to talk to each other…”

Unforgettable Scenes is a feature here at Southern Vision that hasn’t popped up for a few weeks, so I’ve decided to bring it back as I love writing these posts. If you haven’t read any of these before, than the title should be self-explanatory.

This week’s Unforgettable Scene is the Letter scene from Ingmar Bergman’s 1962 film Winter Light. The only one of his films that he was ever really truly happy with, Winter Light is easily one of his top three greatest works, and perhaps the most impressive because it achieves this greatness without glamour, showy visuals or an extravagant plot, simply a situation. Bergman presents us with a situation and leave us to ponder it, hammering home the seriousness of his protagonists’ predicament with dialogue that is sharp and brilliant, at times even terrifying.

There are so many memorable scenes in this short 82 minute film that to pick one is difficult, but when I first saw it there was one scene so incredible, so daring that it stuck in my mind immediately and to this day sends a shiver down my spine to watch. It is startling because of how incredibly long Bergman holds a single, static shot of actress Ingrid Thulin’s face as she reads a letter written by her to the character played by Gunnar Bjornstrand. The letter is savage. It is brutally honest. It speaks volumes about the relationship between her, the volatile atheist and him, the unstable pastor, than I expected, and it is impossible to tear your eyes from the screen. Since the whole scene is just words, there’s really little left for me to say, and I encourage you, whether you’ve seen the film or not, to watch this scene and tell me what you think.


Posted on April 23, 2012, in Movies, Unforgettable Scenes and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 8 Comments.

  1. I had the incredible pleasure of seeing this one on the big screen and that is definetly the finest and most memorable scenes from the film. Thulin is amazing here and it’s truly the kind of actress one can marvel at even if she is just looking directly at the camera, saying words. Fantastic choice!

  2. Christian Hallbeck

    They tried their best to make Ingrid Thulin “ugly” in this film. It proved to be an impossible task!…

    Filmmaker/author Vilgot Sjöman wrote a book called “L 136: Diary with Ingmar Bergman” (1963), about the making of “Winter Light”. It is very interesting reading for those who love this film. (It was not an easy film to make.) I think you would have liked it (i.e. been consumed by it). Sadly, it’s not translated into English. Sjöman made a documentary too, about the making of this film.

    • I think this is one of Thulin’s best performances (though it’s hard to beat THE SILENCE and CRIES AND WHISPERS). I wish she’d made more movies with Bergman.

      I heard that Sjöman made a documentary about the making of Winter Light, though I haven’t seen it.

  3. Christian Hallbeck

    In Sweden we’re going to have a new set of bank notes 2015. I think you’ll appreciate the 200 kronor bill. We will have death talking to Ingmar Bergman on one of them.


  4. This scene knocks the wind out of me everytime. Every. Time. Thanks for highlighting it!

    • Apply what you just said to the whole film. That’s how I feel about WINTER LIGHT. The whole thing knocks me off my seat every time I see it. This is only one scene of many.

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