Several things in the film stood out for me, enough to merit my ruminating on them. I'll start by saying that I enjoyed it. There's something about period Bergman that feels so authentic and real, I cannot imagine cameras and a crew standing around as the action takes place. The same is true of period Kurosawa, though, so maybe it's just a combination of a language I don't understand and a setting I'm not familiar with (unintentional historicization, except it works counter to the Brechtian effect because I become less aware of the camera, of the work's artificiality, rather than more aware).
To start at the beginning, I feel like Ingeri is very much a vessel for the viewer; a few other characters also serve this purpose, namely the boy (we get some POV shots with him), but we identify with Ingeri's perspective most often. The film has a very cinematic opening, with Ingeri blowing on the fire, the light growing brighter as she does, and the flame starting in the foreground, which I associated with a projector starting up: Ingeri ushering us into the film. As the film continues, we are probably alone with Ingeri more than any other character (her preparing the food, her flight from the old man, etc); I don't even know if we see any other character alone, with brief exceptions like Von Sydow wrestling the birch tree down.
The other notable scene with Ingeri is of course the rape and murder of Karin, where we play voyeur with Ingeri while it takes place. Not only are we watching, but we are having roughly the same reaction as Ingeri: a strong desire to see it stopped, possibly some guilt, possibly some excitement. Ingeri holds a rock and we want her to use it, but we do not stop what's going on on-screen and she does not stop what's going on in front of her -- she lets the rock fall (and it tumbles into the water, and I wonder whether this is connected to the image of water at the end). Our actions mirror Ingeri's. (The scene itself is remarkable, mostly for the moment immediately following the rape).
The other detail that struck me most profoundly had to do with Von Sydow's revenge. I was fascinated by the ritualism of the act. He did not murder them in haste or fury, but went about it very deliberately, took down the birch and bathed in the sauna, arranged the things on the table, sat in his chair (like a throne). The act almost comes across as human sacrifice, it's so measured, as though following some practiced routine; this has interesting implications considering the paganism/Christianity duality in the film.
The routine also felt familiar, after reading The Kalevala recently. Finland has a very different mythology than Sweden, but I noticed a few distinct similarities (saunas, emphasis on preparation, peasant/farmer protagonists). As traditional or mythological folk texts, this story and the stories from The Kalevala felt similar, in some ways.
Other, miscellaneous tidbits:
-As I mentioned, the rape scene and the scene with the birch left an impression. The monologue the man tells to the boy also stands out, and the strange man/mystic/shaman in the woods.
-For those who may not know, the crow in the woods is not some arbitrary creepy bird. The crow is the messenger bird of Odin, the god Ingeri beseeches when she asks for Karin's misfortune.
-The frog in the bread baffled me. Does this have some significance I'm not aware of? Or is it just a bad practical joke that results in a slightly awkward moment preceding the rape? I get the hint of some meaning, but in the end it just seems kind of absurd to me.
And to wrap up my post, the ending. I'm not sure I can describe my reaction to the titular event, as Narshty calls it. The water began flowing and at that moment my body effervesced -- that's the best I can explain. It's the feeling people call breathless or speechless, that strange and sudden lightness that can come over you. It's not rare for me to react this way to a shot or a moment in a film, but it is rare to feel it so intensely as I did this time. The moment is swift and unobtrusive, maybe sublime. It came so unexpectedly, and the resemblance between her hair and the water seemed like an in-camera transition, beautifully woven together, giving a distinct visual connection between Karin and the spring.
Nearly every Bergman film I've seen seems to have one single supernatural element, and I find the technique interesting (examples include Death in The Seventh Seal, the dream in Wild Strawberries, the dead sister talking in Cries and Whispers).
I see it as a perfect fusion of the two, an acknowledgement that these people will forever contain both religions within themselves (and perhaps suggesting that the one cannot or should not exist without the other). This is best exemplified when Ingeri baptizes herself in the water, which seems to be an acceptance or an expression of both religions in equal measure.isn't it possible to interpret [the spring] as a favourable nod towards paganism instead of christianity?
So ends my random spiel of the day.