Many times in the film, Ingmar Bergman uses a red screen to fade in and fade out, and then again a few seconds later as the transition between scenes. I’ve also seen other directors using red, especially Pedro Almodóvar and his Átame! (aka Tie Me Up! Tie Me Down!). Unlike Almodóvar’s passionate red, Bergman’s red is blood, disease, and the dying despair and grief.
Karin and Maria stayed at Agnes’ bedside to look after their dying sister. Though as real sisters, Karin, Agnes and Maria kept in distances from each other. They had their own problems that they couldn’t speak about. Maria’s boredom and impatience toward life made her infidel to her husband. Karin’s depressing life and intense relationship with her husband drove her to self-mutilation. Sometimes they could hear a vague cry from afar. The house they lived was with red walls, red carpets and red curtains, like a metaphorical hell. The louder you cry, the harder to make others listen to you.
Anna (reading an entry from Agnes’ journal):
Wednesday, the third of September.
The tang of autumn fills the clear, still air but it’s mild and fine. My sisters, Karin and Maria have come to see me. It’s wonderful to be together again like in the old days, and I am feeling much better. We were even able to go for a little walk together. Such an event for me, especially since I haven’t been out of doors for so long. Suddenly we began to laugh and run toward the old swing that we hadn’t seen since we were children. We sat in it like three good little sisters, and Anna pushed us, slowly and gently. All my aches and pains were gone, the people I am most fond of in all the world were with me, I could hear their chatting around me, I could feel the presence of their bodies, the warmth of their hands. I wanted to hold the moment fast and thought, “Come what may, this is happiness. I cannot wish for anything better. Now, for a few minutes, I can experience perfection. And I feel profoundly grateful to my life, which gives me so much.”
Here is an interesting comment from IMDB:
“Just think what a brilliant film it would be with a good car chase, or some funny moments; imagine what Cries and Whispers could have been with Angela Jolie playing Karin or Anna by Cameron Diaz…”
I could only say, some films are only for some audiences.