Andreas Winkelman (Max von Sydow) has deliberately sought out the seclusion of an isolated island since his wife left him. Anna Fromm (Liv Ullmann), too, is alone after her husband (also named Andreas) and her son were killed in a car accident while Anna was driving. They soon come together. However, Anna is plagued by feelings of guilt and persuades herself that she had led a perfect marriage. She is supported by her friends Elis Vergérus (Erland Josephson), a cynical, misanthropic architect, and his wife Eva (Bibi Andersson), whose plans and schemes for her life are squashed in the bud by Elis. The film pursues the complex relationships between the four protagonists, who are forced to deal with the burdens of their individual pasts.
In EN PASSION Bergman delves into the abyss of the human soul. A symbol of this is an increasing number of cases of cruelty to animals, caused, the island inhabitants believe, by a reclusive old man. Red-tinted night scenes alternate with the pale green of the exterior shots in Bergman’s second feature film in colour. Bergman also uses alienation effects such as interviews with the actors about their parts or political images that reinforce the themes. EN PASSION is a story of love and pain, humiliation and oppression, self-deception and self-contempt.