Admit that it's a little hard to comprehend that Victor Sjöström's office glimmered in different shades of brown; that the dress Ingrid Thulin sported for the conferment ball was light blue or that Bibi Andersson's chins took on a becoming reddish hue. Here's an update for you: reality had colour even when black and white films such as Wild Strawberries were shot.
But sometimes it happens that we'll get to see a behind-the-scenes colour still, that a preserved costume is on display in a museum or that a colourful prop is found in an archive somewhere – and suddenly we're reminded of the fact that most of reality, including that of the past, comes in colour.
From these kind of musings, there is but a small step to counterfactual history speculations: what if e.g. Through a Glass Darkly was in colour! Actually, it was pretty close. In February 1960, Swedish daily Dagens Nyheter announced that Bergman's next film was to be in colour:
'Max von Sydow and Gunnar Björnstrand are already contracted for parts in the colour film, which only has four parts. The working title for the as yet unwritten film is "The Wallpaper", which is all Ingmar Bergman wants to reveal, except that this wallpaper is green and of importance to the story.'
We are happy to be able to confirm this last note! That the wallpaper was green, that is. Because on the very same day Criterion published their colour stills from classical black and white movies, our colleagues of the Swedish Film Institute library stumbled upon an interesting item in their holdings: the wallpaper which would have named the film. Design: the one and only P A Lundgren! As we speak, we're having a small meeting room at Film Institute redecorated into a cozy nervous breakdown space.
Through a Glass Darkly is a nice title, what with the reference to St. Paul and everything. But at least today we wouldn't have minded the title Bergman had in mind when he had jettisoned 'The Wallpaper' (but had to exchange upon discovering a recently published Swedish novel by Olle Hedberg had the same title): 'True Colours'.
PS. Stand-in for Harriet Andersson above is Ola Törjas of the Swedish Film Institute library.