After his divorce and a short time in prison, Andreas Winkleman (Max von Sydow) lives a solitary life until, first, he sleeps one time with a lovely neighbor (Bibi Andersson) and, second, he begins a romantic liaison with the damaged Anna (Liv Ullmann). A Passion, not The Passion of Anna, is the actual title of this 1969 Ingmar Bergman film when it is correctly translated, with passion as a synonym for suffering. Needless to say, this being a Bergman movie, Andreas and the other characters do suffer.
What is more, Bergman was impressed by the observation of a particular philosopher that people live strictly according to their needs, both positive and negative. He means for his people here to verify that. At the end of the film, the needs of Andreas conflict with each other and there is painful irresolution. A limited profundity is in this, but much more can be found in A Passion, which is also about isolation and the lies we tell to make it seem there is less isolation.
The film is brilliant, especially visually, but is yet another excessively talky Bergman piece. Predictably, the acting is magnificent. Max von Sydow was never more incisive, more soulful. As well, however, Bergman is the same old skeptic about religion (unlike me). He never—and I mean never—understood it. A Passion is easier to take than the Swedish artist’s other movies, excepting Winter Light, but I finally cannot accept it.
(In Swedish with English subtitles)