palimpsest — n., reading the old together with the new.
Augustine and the Subtracted Collective in Winter Light
. . . if God never gave any answers from the human temple, but only thundered out revelation from the sky.
— Augustine of Hippo, Teaching Christianity prol.6
Ingmar Bergman’s controversial 1963 film, Winter Light, outlines a hauntingly laconic world in which both a transcendent God and the cosmic coherence guaranteed by such a deity are put radically into question. The movie opens onto a sparsely attended Eucharistic service held on a wintry Sunday in the small-town church of Mittsunda in post-war Sweden. Pastor Tomas Ericsson (Gunnar Björnstrand) recites the “words of institution” — Jesus’s words during his final meal in the narrative of the synoptic gospels — while the camera pensively lingers on those few people in attendance: fisherman Jonas Persson (Max von Sydow) and his pregnant wife Karin (Gunnel Lindblom); Tomas’s ex-mistress, the avowed atheist and school teacher Märta (Ingrid Thulin); church sacristan Algot Frövik (Allan Edwall), who is conspicuously deformed (because of a railway accident, as we learn); the brazenly irreverent church organist Fredrik Blom (Olof Thunberg); church warden Knut Aronsson (Kolbjörn Knudsen); and widow Magdalena Ledfors (Elsa Ebbesen). Read more . . .