There is a sweeping range of emotions in this film. Almost every character finds their way from the heights of joy to the depths of brokenness and despair. It is remarkable that so much richness and frivolity can find their place in one film, often from one scene to the next.
Bergman reveals deep spiritual realities in this film, and none of them are easy or straightforward. In the vast landscape of this film, despondency hides tremendous joy while forthrightness brings forth great pain and fear. But not merely so. The adult characters are reaching out for more than they can hold in their arms at once.
I love the shots that scroll and pan amongst dozens of family members. There are compositions that contain many characters at once and seem to encompass the whole world – everything we can see within the frame and everything we cannot see.
Of course, I didn’t include any screenshots of those scenes here 🙂 and I’ve already put the disc back in the mail or I would find some – I opted instead for these quieter moments that I found stunning at the time I was viewing.
It turns out I did have a couple of other screenshots saved. Here is the family on Christmas morning listening to the story of Christ’s birth. And another image of the children praying for their family members before bed time. These compositions remind me of the kind Stanley Kubrick used in almost every shot of Barry Lyndon. Natural light and highly stylized images. I wish I knew more about what these shots are doing – I’m at the limit of my understanding… They look like, uh, classical paintings.