- Ingmar Bergman spent much of his career making films about marriage- To Joy fights nicely into his oeuvre even if it is undeniably minor Bergman.
- This is already Bergman’s eighth (8th) film- and still before his international breakthrough. This “a story of marriage” told in a flashback.
- Victor Sjöström plays the conductor- perfect casting for the imposing authoritative figure. Surely, a conductor of an orchestra has much in common with a film director- which Sjöström was of course. This is notable for being a Sjöström acting performance in a Bergman film seven years before 1957’s Wild Strawberries.
- This film is also notable for being the first Erland Josephson archiveable film- even if he is in a tiny, uncredited role here. Josephson would work with Bergman often throughout his career including on Bergman’s last film Saraband in 2003 over a half century later.
- Bergman uses the work of Mozart, Mendelssohn and Beethoven for the film- and it makes sense with Sjöström’s character conducing a classical orchestra. Bergman spends plenty of time luxuriating in the beautiful music (it seems as much as 15-20 of the 99-minute running time are spent on the orchestra playing music).
- This is some of Bergman’s finest writing to this point in his career- “The secret of real art is it’s created when you’re unhappy”. “I prefer extinction”. These are indeed scenes from a marriage long before 1973’s Scenes from a Marriage “we said no fighting in front of the kids”. Acidic- pulls no punches.
- A newspaper critic calls a musician’s solo “an unnecessary suicide”- that is Bergman’s writing for sure.
At the 19-minute mark Bergman shows off his talent for capturing multiple fields of depth—Marta (Maj-Britt Nilsson) is laying in the foreground with her head foreground right with Stig (Stig Olin) laying in the field behind her with his head on the left of the frame- it is like he is laying on top of her as they talk- a variation of Bergman’s trademark shot with faces blocked on top of each other.
- At the 21-minute mark- these are just isolated heads in the frame now- Marta is in the foreground facing right.
- There are some formal miscues. After three years, while still in flashback, the voiceover takes the perspective of Sjöström’s character- it pops up without being set up, and then drops off again as quickly as it (unwelcomely) came.
A strong composition at the 83-minute mark- an old man with a stroke and Sjöström in the foreground at the sides of the frame as Nelly (Margit Carlqvist) and Marcel (Birger Malmsten) flirt in the center of the frame at background depth.
- The film ends with music as the flashback ceases and disaster strikes
- Recommend but not in the top 10 of 1950