Traveling through an unnamed foreign country on the brink of war, two sisters - the intellectual Ester (Ingrid Thulin) and the carnal Anna (Gunnel Lindblom) - along with Anna's small son (Jorgen Lindstrom) are forced to stay at a baroque hotel until Ester recovers from a sudden illness. Ingmar Bergman's stark film is startling in its simplicity and yet, as usual for Bergman, rich in layered complexities. Not unlike L'AVVENTURA, the film explores the inability to communicate as a sort of emotional malaise or disconnect of modern society. In one scene, after having had sex with a man she doesn't know and doesn't speak her language, Lindblom's Anna notes how lucky it is that they don't understand each other. Ironically, Thulin's Ester is a translator. When it first opened in 1963, it was quite controversial for its sexual frankness but there's not a bit of eroticism in the film. Sex is just another attempt to "communicate" with someone. On a visual level, it may be the most interesting of Bergman's films due in no small part by Sven Nykvist's liquid camera work.