In To Joy, which takes its name from Beethoven’s An die Freude, Bergman is beginning to break away from the embittered nihilism of his early work. Life is a terrible adversary, but man’s spirit is indomitable. The film begins with its young musician protagonist, Stig, learning that his wife has been burned to death in a fire at their flat. His baby son survives, but his life is in ruins. He recalls the idyllic love that began seven years previously, and the remainder of the film consists almost entirely of a single flashback. The lovely interlude in the archipelago has more visual poetry than the sum of all Bergman’s previous work and shows that he is beginning to formulate what will emerge as his overriding philosophy: that there are brief instances in life which are of such exquisite beauty that they compensate for all the misery and unhappiness.
Black and white.