This movie directed by Ingmar Bergman is not what you’d call upbeat. It’s a sad tale of repression of human emotions in the presence of a terminal illness of one of three sisters. Only the maid servant freely expresses her love for the dying sister. Reconciliation of the two living sisters seems to occur at one point only to disappear again at the end. Bergman clearly doesn’t think much of well healed self-satisfied people who he believes often live inauthentic lives of hypocrisy and repressed self-hatred.
There is an interesting interview of Bergman and his friend, Erland Josephson, done in 1999, on the DVD. I enjoyed this discussion very much between the two wise old artists (Bergman was 82 at the time and Josephson was 77), and the interviewer, Malou von Sivers, was very good. She asked them probing questions about their lives, loves, and views on death. Ingmar was not so concerned about his own death whereas his friend Erland was not at all looking forward to it. Bergman died in 2007 and Josephson in February of this year, 2012.
Here’s an excerpt from the interview that says a lot to me:
von Sivers: I think of Strindberg, whom you both love, of his play Thunder in the Air. There are in the accounts of ageing a feeling of reconciliation, together with the pain. I get the same feeling when listening to you. I don’t know if this is just my impression. Is it wishful thinking on my part, that ageing brings reconciliation?
Bergman: (To Josephson) Do you want to start, or shall I?
Josephson: You start. I can carry on.
Bergman: We should talk in chorus, as we both feel the same way about growing old. We were never told it would be so hard. It’s hard work. It’s very hard work. Especially when you feel yourself waning, and your ailments begin to take over. Ridiculous, slightly humiliating ailments begin to take over. Before you get used to this, and they become part of your life, you have a hard time. Ageing is strenuous work. It isn’t something often talked about. We should talk more about it. Ageing in itself is a full-time job. Making yourself function in a reasonably dignified manner. We’ve talked about this.